Last May I was invited to go to Brighton for a secret mission – to contribute vocals to several songs on The Levellers‘ forthcoming acoustic album “We The Collective” (out on 9th March), produced by the legendary John Leckie. J O H N L E C K I E recorded my vocals.
NO BIG DEAL BIG DEAL! (and yes, he was lovely…and yes, I kept my cool to the point where I think he thought I didn’t know he’d worked with some of my favourite bands on some of my favourite ever records…so just before I left for the train home I told him I think he’s brill)
Having been lucky enough to tour with the band in 2014 around Europe and the UK (joining them on stage every night to sing “This Garden”), and subsequently playing SMW sets at two Beautiful Days festivals, it was a dream come true to be asked to do a duet with Mark. Of course, he guest starred on “Direction Of Travel” so fair’s fair 😉
“McGee” is a chilling song about undercover police and the long lasting effect they had on the new families they had while working. Ugh. It’s a privilege to be part of it.
Two days after I returned from my 7 week adventure to Indonesia last summer I drove down to Exeter to sing backing vocals for The Levellers’ Friday afternoon slot opening Beautiful Days and as we started the set with “Exodus” (the first song of theirs I ever heard, on a Shine compilation CD) and I sang the words “we the sound system, we the collective” I was overcome with pride to be part of their performance. It also felt very cool to be sitting on the same stage I first played with Viv Albertine 4 years previously. Sometimes life is circular in all the right ways.
Photo by Tracey C.
The set went down incredibly well, of course, the tent packed full of Levellers fans – amongst the most loyal I’ve seen on my musical journey so far (alongside the New Model Army family of course). And this was no ordinary gig – for this new album the band have deconstructed some of their biggest songs and reapproached them in brilliant new ways with the addition of achingly beautiful strings, a collaboration between Levellers violinist Jon Sevink and Moulettes cellist/singer Hannah Miller. Sadly Hannah wasn’t at the festival because Moulettes were on tour, but violinist Mike Simmonds (Alice Russell, Quantic), violist Anisa Arslanagic (Ghost Poet and loads more) and dep cellist Will Calderbank (Miserable Rich, Sons of Noel and Adrian) played an absolute blinder. I couldn’t help looking over and grinning at them throughout the set.
The picture below was taken shortly afterwards, celebrating the surreal and wonderful experience of singing on stage with some of my musical heroes by supping a lovely pint of Otter ale while the waves of crippling jetlag washed over me.
Thank you to The Levellers and their team for always making me feel welcome! Here’s to a wonderful album launch and a brilliant tour – they’re off round the country soon with the fabulous Ginger Wildheart in support – get your tickets now!
If you enjoyed this blog post, please consider supporting my independent musical project by pre-ordering my new album via PledgeMusic.
Get 5 free songs plus regular but never spammy information, gig news and treats by signing up to the mailing list.
Visit my website for photos, music videos and gig listings.
And for day to day news, thoughts and music recommendations please follow me on Twitter.