The Levellers - 'Levellers Collective: Together All The Way' Album Review
1. The Game
2. Down By The River 'O'
3. The Cholera Well
4. Together All The Way
5. Wake The World
7. Battle Of The Beanfield
8. Man O' War
9. Sell Out
10. Sitting In The Social
In 2018 The Levellers released 'We The Collective' a radical re-working of some of their more popular songs from their 30 year career. Fast forward five years and The Levellers have decided to give some more songs the Collective treatment. 'Together All The Way' marks the recording debut of Dan Donnelly in the Levellers ranks as well as returning collective members Hannah & Oli from The Moulettes. As a long time Levellers fan I’m really intrigued to hear what they’ve come up with time as We The Collective offered a very interesting take on songs that had become a huge part of my life.
The Game – One of the Levellers most popular album tracks that sets out how this album is going to be. The Game is re-imagined into a morbid slow death march and the polar opposite of the original track. There is some serious intensity going on here and it’s a real statement of intent on how 'Together All The Way' is going to be.
Down By The River ‘O’ – A newer take on the Rev Hammer song that the Levellers helped record many years ago and have played live numerous time. This song marks Dan Donnelly’s vocal debut and I’m actually surprised at how similar he sounds to Rev Hammer. Down By The River ‘O’ doesn’t stray too far from the original but you can hear the subtle differences to make it interesting. What I’m already enjoying about this album only 3 songs in is that this album is recorded live by the whole collective (it really shows the level of musicianship on play here) you also get to little bits of chatter between songs which makes you feel like you may as well have been in the room. So,
The Cholera Well – Here we go again with another very different take on what was originally a frantic Punk song. Other than the vocals you’d have no idea that this is the same song, there is some really haunting fiddle melodies at play here which serve as some haunting hooks.
Together All The Way - was always a really positive upbeat song with a great swing to it, I didn’t think it was possible to make it bounce even more but here we are with for me the Highlight of the album, Together All The Way has been given a countryfied twist (not the Nashville style) but the Folk style, The backing vocals of Hannah add a really touch to the song as do the guitar licks. Whilst not differing hugely from the original the collective have taken the best bits of the original and improved it massively.
Wake The World – originally a piano driven tune on Green Blade Rising (in fact the first real song where Matt Savage heavily featured). Wake The World now is an acoustic guitar/fiddle led song at a higher tempo with lots of vocal harmonies that again show that The Collective are serious about doing something different.
Wheels – Another song that was pretty full on in its original guise is stripped away and given a dark edge with some haunting strings and totally new fiddle melodies, what I’m enjoying most with these versions is when you expect to hear a fiddle melody you’ve known for years only to hear a different melody.
Battle of The Beanfield – This one caught me most by surprise (and I think it will for a lot of fans), Having heard Simon Friend belt this out so many times over the years you half expect to hear his voice. It totally threw me to hear Mark Chadwick take lead vocals on beanfield, Is Beanfield the most radical departure from its original? In some ways yes and other no, Beanfield is now totally strings and vocals but the intensity is still there & in some ways its even more brooding, the next logical step is for The Levellers to re-record Beanfield in its full on electric form but to add the darkness of the strings.
Man O' War – A new song so there is no comparison but that doesn’t mean we won’t eventually get to hear a different version (For All The Unknown from We The Extra’s EP eventually turned up as an extra full band track on Peace so we’ll keep an eye out). Man O War, is a sweet little ballad with some lovely picked rolling guitar and vocal harmonies.
Sell Out – Another huge Levellers track from Levelling The Land, it’s got to be difficult to do new versions of songs that have become such staples of The Levellers live set because you’ve got to get it almost perfect or you risk pissing fans off. So, have The Collective hit or miss with Sell Out? For this reviewer it’s a total hit, Opening with a very dreamy vocal courtesy of Dan before going into a nice swinging feel with that old familiar fiddle melody (good choice in sticking with it). The verses are sprinkled with piano touches & the slowed down pace of Sell Out works perfectly. Dan’s dreamy vocals return for what was the most intense part of the original which really works before a really nice fiddle outro ends the song.
Sitting In The Social – When is a new song not a new song? Answer when its on Together All The Way. For those eagle eyes or excellent hearing you’ll think I’m sure I’ve heard this song somewhere before and you’d be right. On The Levellers App there is a live concert from 1990 and right at the end there is a song called Sitting In The Social. The Collective have taken parts of the original and fleshed it out with some extra lyrics. The song is now driven by drums and it’s got a very danceable beat with small flourish’s of strings and a very catchy bass line – The thing that pisses this reviewer off the most about this song is its sentiment, its been over 30 years since this song was 1st written and in many ways things have got worse to the point where people need foodbanks.
At roughly 32 minutes long 'Together All The Way' never outstays its welcome in fact it's really frustrating to the point where you scream I want to hear some more tracks. The Collective have been very clever here in leaving you wanting more because they could have easily added another 4 or 5 tracks and the album wouldn’t have dragged at all. In a time where it seems to be the in thing to go back and re-record your album tracks The Collective have really hit upon a very interesting way of interpreting Levellers songs and clearly got into a groove. 'Together All The Way' is a huge step up from 'We The Collective' and I don’t know about you but I’d love to hear more takes of some real deep cuts from previous albums which shows you how highly I rate this collection of tunes.
Website - levellers.co.uk
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/levellersofficial
Review - Aleutia Shannon