Like ’em or not, The Levellers are one of the great motive forces in British rock. Formed in Brighton’s traveller scene in the late 80s, their rousing folk-punk rumpus not only spoke for a crushed crusty counterculture but captured the imagination of the mainstream too.
Their unlikely rise and appeal is examined here, chiefly through Jeremy Cunningham, their crimson-locked bassist and creative controller, as he gathers the threads of the band’s scattered archive.
With his nervous cackle echoing throughout, Cunningham and co – including his proud, scene-stealing parents – begin as Waterboys wannabes. Or, more specifically, McDermott’s Two Hours wannabes, who needle the British music press just by their very existence and lead to Cunningham sending the NME a turd in a box after another particularly snide review.
With the zeitgeist on their side, they achieved a consecutive run of seven gold albums and a Glasto headline – all despite the usual band tensions, desperate addictions and calling Michael Eavis a cunt. A good story, well told – respect is due all round./o:p