A Life Less Ordinary
The Levellers celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2008 and released Letters From The Underground which debuted at 24 in the UK Album Charts. The album was released on their own label On the Fiddle Recordings and produced by Sean Lakeman (who is renowned for producing his brother’s Mercury-nominated and gold-selling albums). The album received critical acclaim with Mojo describing it as ‘an impressive return to the fray’ and the Daily Mirror as ‘one of the most politically committed and musically incisive albums of their career...’. A Life Less Ordinary, The Cholera Well, Burn America Burn and Before The End were all released as download singles from the album.
In May 2008, the band played three Beautiful Nights in Wolverhampton, Manchester and at London’s Brixton Academy, followed by festival and summer appearances including a picnic concert at Arundel Castle. There followed a tour of theatres in September including a memorable night at London’s most prestigious venue - Royal Albert Hall - where they performed a half electric / half acoustic set with guest musicians including a string section. They also embarked on extensive tours of the UK and Europe in November and December with support on the UK dates from Frank Turner.
2009 saw the digital release of Levellers Live at the Royal Albert Hall, although during the performance the year before, the recording equipment had crashed and so several songs were lost from the final recording. The band toured around the UK and extensively in Europe at the end of the year.
At the start of 2010, the band played an intimate UK tour to cities which were not on the usual ‘circuit’, including Crewe, Holmfirth, Brecon and Tunbridge Wells, which not surprisingly, sold out very quickly. They continued on this path with the announcement of a “grass roots” tour in November 2010, taking in 18 towns and cities around the UK to coincide with the re-release of their debut album, A Weapon Called The Word on their own label On the Fiddle Recordings in October 2010. The album was digitally re-mastered and included four previously un-released tracks from a BBC Radio 1 session and tour DVD, shot on a handy cam by the touring crew, dating from 1991.
As a way of documenting the tour and highlighting the release of A Weapon Called The Word, the band enlisted the help of film-maker and ex-Chumbawamba vocalist Dunstan Bruce. Dunstan’s company Dandy Films
is based at the Levellers Metway Studios.
He was the mastermind behind a blogumentary
of candid footage of the band on that tour in the provinces of the UK plus interviews with local groups, fans and location pieces. Dunstan has continued working with the band and is producing videos for the new album in 2012.
Mark Chadwick released a solo album, All The Pieces, on independent label Stay By Records in September 2010 followed by a 10 date UK tour in October. All The Pieces was definitely not a Levellers album. Whilst the voice is familiar, that is where the similarities end. Instead, this was an intensely personal collection of folk-tinged acoustic pop tracks, written and refined over the course of the last two decades. Brought to life by producer Sean Lakeman, Mark was joined by a number of guest folk musicians on the album.