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The Levellers - Levelling The Land: 25th Anniversary Edition album review

Hot on the heels of the 2011 box set edition

The Levellers Levelling The Land album cover

While it’s always been easy to sneer at the earnestness of The Levellers, the band themselves possessed enough self-awareness when they sang, ‘And all the problems of this world won’t be solved with this guitar.’ Yet that said, it’s difficult to ignore the evidence that The Levellers veer wildly from hopeless naivety to righteous outrage.

When they get it right – see the folk-punk indignation of The Game or the alcoholic lament that is Fifteen Years – they combine insight and commentary with a musical verve that still sounds exciting this far down the line. These are songs aimed for the feet as much as for the head, and they’re a heady brew that evokes the days of party as protest in the early 90s.

When they get it wrong, as on the arse-clenching whimsy of The Boatman, they come across as gormless dreamers, yet there’s no denying the justified anger at the still potent Battle Of The Beanfield. Topped off with a live CD and a DVD shot at Brixton Academy in 2011, this edition is really for completists and newcomers only.

Julian Marszalek is the former Reviews Editor of The Blues Magazine. He has written about music for Music365, Yahoo! Music, The Quietus, The Guardian, NME and Shindig! among many others. As the Deputy Online News Editor at Xfm he revealed exclusively that Nick Cave’s second novel was on the way. During his two-decade career, he’s interviewed the likes of Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Ozzy Osbourne, and has been ranted at by John Lydon. He’s also in the select group of music journalists to have actually got on with Lou Reed. Marszalek taught music journalism at Middlesex University and co-ran the genre-fluid Stow Festival in Walthamstow for six years.