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Zeitgeist (Remastered)

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Album Review

Seven years on, fourth album in, and the Levellers sound like...the Levellers, which is no better or worse a fate than most groups have in store for them if whatever formula was established can work. It has to be said, though, that the weird sonic connection to the Mission UK from earlier releases reappears at points — the opening electric crunch then acoustic swirl of "Hope St." in particular sounds like something Wayne Hussey would have cooked up on Carved in Sand. That said, in the end the Levellers' particular sonic stew really is its own more and more, Chadwick's high, sometimes strained vocals, the reworking of various strands of folk styles, the anthemic pump-your-fist heft of so many of the songs. Al Scott, having done a solid job producing Levelling the Land, does the honors again here — for all the reputation for raggle-taggle, the Levellers themselves certainly value full-bodied arrangements and results. Friend once again gets a particular chance to shine with some of his smashing rhythm leads and soloing; he may never get the write-ups in guitar magazines, but there's little doubt that his performances on songs like the crashing "4 A.M." and "Fantasy" are strong stuff. This time around, the dancebeats suggest a little less of Madchester's long-dead approach and more of, say, the Afro Celt Sound System, but they're still there, cropping up from time to time but generally giving way for a straight-up rock drive at most points. Fellow aesthetic spirit Rev Hammer gets a nod with a cover of his "Maid of the River," but otherwise it's the Levellers doing their own thing. As a result, the album's as good a starting point as anything they've released, because whatever one's reaction to Zeitgeist is determined by what one thinks of all the other albums.

Customer Reviews

Excellent Album

The "official" review of this album manages to be non-committal towards what is actually a really great album. Rather than "sounding like everything the Levellers release" this album saw the Levellers take a firm step away from indie-folk and towards full-on stadium rock. Of course, the folk influence is still there, particularly in Men-an Tol (one of the best acoustic guitar riffs you're ever likely to hear) and Maid of the River, but for the majority of the album this is music designed to be played on a huge stage to the audiences of thousands that the band could draw at this point, rather than to a pub full of drunk punks and hippies. While the preceding (untitled) album was a great record, Zeitgeist cranks up the production values and songwriting licks to produce another record, like Levelling the Land, that sounds like a collection of singles: pretty much any of which could be a show opener. As ever, the Levellers wear their influences on their sleeve with snarly punk tracks like 4am and Fantasy, big hook-filled rock like Hope Street and Leave This Town and the odd bit of boozy pub-rock like Just The One. The dancy/dubby edge that appeared in Levelling the Land also makes a subtle resurgence on tracks like Exodus. Of the thirteen tracks on the original album, only PC Keen stands out as less than a winner. The love of droney late-era Beatles tracks that would marr their later records reared its ugly head on this one track before being swept away by Just The One. There's very little to complain about with Zeitgeist. It's a great record for anyone who likes rock music and is perhaps more accessible than the Levellers' earlier work for people who are a bit dubious about folk music.

The levellers

Brilliant cd been looking 4 it 4 ages after losing my cd great

Phenomenal!

This album is immense! Buy it and listen to it over and over. Forgotten ground is just stunning and uplifting. Long live the Levellers!

Biography

Formed: 1988 in Brighton, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The Levellers formed in 1988, bringing together five Brighton, England, musicians -- Mark Chadwick (vocals, guitar, banjo), Alan Miles (vocals, guitar, mandolin, harmonica), Jeremy Cunningham (bass, bouzouki), Charlie Heather (drums), and Jon Sevink (fiddle). Forging out a pseudo-hippie, slightly punky folk-rock with a Celtic flavoring, the band released two EPs on their own Hag label in 1989, which led to a contract with Musidisc. The band released their first album, A Weapon Called the Word, in...
Full bio
Zeitgeist (Remastered), The Levellers
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