Levellers “Truth & Lies”

Album Reviews | May 23rd, 2005

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Record Label: Eagle Records
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The Levellers are my favorite band of any genre and are just an incredible band to listen to. I discovered the Levellers two years ago, thanks to file-sharing (sorry but I wouldn’t have found out about the band then), and I now have every album they ever made, and then some. I even purchased stuff on their website to support the band and had to pay a ridiculous amount of money because of the stupid exchange rate but anyway…Truth & Lies is their eighth full-length studio record and it’s just, awesome!

I’m assuming some of you don’t know who the Levellers are so I’ll briefly describe their sound to you and give a little bit of history about them. They formed in Brighton, UK in 1988 and have been touring and making great albums ever since. Just imagine the Clash with a fiddler and you got the Levellers. Originally, they incorporated punkier sound but have slightly changed their music to a more folk rock style. They seem to get more mature with every release, which is good because they are exploring new things. They still seem to have that punk attitude with plenty of political filled songs and they certainly don’t hold back what they are trying to say. They aren’t all serious all the time though and have a lot of fun and enjoyable lighthearted tunes as well. There isn’t one band I could say they sound like because they have their own unique & original sound.

I probably listened to this album over 50 times already haha. That’s not an exaggeration either, I’m really getting obsessed with the band; almost to the point where I’m willing to spend a lot money just to fly over to the UK and see them perform at the Beautiful Days festival in August. The only thing stopping me right now is trying to find someone to go with me. Beautiful Days festival is hosted by the Levellers every year and is quickly becoming one of the biggest, if not the best music festivals in Europe. Too bad I can’t get my Yankee ass over there. I don’t know what the reason is why I like the band so much. Perhaps it’s the politically charged lyrics, or the folk & fiddle sound, or the warm felt singalongs and rock anthems or just all the elements combined. I’ve never listen to a band once a day until I discovered the Levellers.

Truth & Lies was produced by Mark Wallis, who also produced “Hello Pig.” The production for this CD is very similar to that, some instruments & vocals distorted, and it takes a second to get used to. “Last Man Alive” starts off the CD rockin’! I’ve heard the Levellers perform that song on a live CD, and it sounds very different to the studio version. The live version is more slower, and less distorted. It might have been an acoustical version, not entirely sure. I like both versions but not sure which one I prefer. “Make You Happy” is the Levellers’ newest single that’s creeping it’s way up the British charts and I think it’s a song that works for radio. It’s a catchy pop tune, that’s great for singing along to. I should know, because I’ve been singing along to this song in my car since I got the album. As I listen to the album over and over again, one thing I notice is the lack of fiddle or perhaps it’s just getting lost with all the other instruments. But I’ve probably listened to this album so many times, the fiddle parts just breeze over me because I’ve grown accustomed to the sound. “For Us All” is another enjoyable campfire singalong song, but this time Simon sings on the song. I’m not sure, but I don’t think Simon sang on too many tracks. Plus there’s a kazoo playing during the chorus. Not too many bands can get away with that and having it sound cheesy but the Levellers pull off the kazoo thing. “Knot Around the World” is a refreshing anti-war song, and is probably the standout political track of the CD.

“Steel Knife” was written about the British contractor guy who was beheaded in Iraq (at least I think that’s what it’s about). The song has a very haunting, yet disturbed sound to it. The piano/keys are quietly playing in the background with soft singing in the foreground. Towards the end of the track, there’s a great instrumental fadeout. “Wheels” seems the most contemporary or indie rockish on the album. It’s very similar to “Pretty Target” from Green Blade Rising, and this is one of my favorite songs from the album. It’s hard to pick out just one standout track from the CD because they are all equally good. But “Wheels” is another catchy song that I hope to hear the Levellers play live one day. That is, if I ever get to go over to UK to see them play or if they tour over in the States. I just got into the band when they toured here last so I missed them when they played in NYC. Continuing on, “Said and Done” is yet another excellent track with a catchy chorus. “All the things we’ve said and done, are not enough, so run child run.” I could see this being another single for the Levellers in the future. I think that track is that good to make it on the radio. I wished the U.S. Radio stations or Satellite radio would play some Levellers songs. Looks like I have to start badgering them to play their stuff! The last track that stood out in my mind was “The Damned.” Just a terrific, yet dark song that had me bopping my head to the beat every time I listen to it. “Sleeping” is still growing on me and I’m liking it more and more. I didn’t like “Wake the World” at first but now I’m in love with the song. So I’m sure “Sleeping” with be the same.

Holy moly, I think this is the longest CD review I ever did. I better stop writing and just end this review now. So in a nutshell, I love the Levellers and I’m so happy they have a new album out. I seriously can’t stop listening to this album and Leveller fans will certainly enjoy this album. If you kids like bands like Flogging Molly (playing the Beautiful Days festival by the way), Dropkick Murphys, The Pogues, Saw Doctors, and Billy Bragg; I highly recommend checking out the Levellers! Start with the album “Levelling the Land” and you’ll be hooked, trust me!

Bottom Line: Perhaps one of their best CDs. It’s different then their previous albums but I still love this CD.
Notable Tracks: Last Man Alive, Make You Happy, Confess, For You All, Knot Around the World, Steel Knife, Wheels, Said and Done, The Damned. OK EVERY TRACK!
Overall Rating: