Even as a huge fan of the Levellers, it would be churlish to deny that they've struggled to reach the heady heights that their earlier albums reached. Whilst I've enjoyed all their releases in the intervening period, more recent offerings have struggled to match the energy, vibrancy, relevancy and downright footstomping unforgetability of A Weapon Called The Word
, Levelling The Land (Remastered)
and even Zeitgeist
The release of Letters from the Underground in 2008 was a definite elevation of their intervening albums, but with Static on the Airwaves the lads have come up with a genuine contender for the material they were releasing twenty odd years ago - and seem to have united both fans and media alike, it's not very often that the Levs get a fair crack of the whip from the music press - but this time both defensive loyal fans and journalists alike have concurred that this is a fantastic recording by a band who still have something relevant to say and can do so surrounded by fantastic music.
From the dystopian Static On The Airwaves
it kicks straight into soon-to-be-released single 'We Are All Gunmen
' - an epic manifesto for how the world could be, before kicking into the first single 'Truth Is
' - a tremendously catchy anthemic reminder of the disparity between the different strata of society. 'After The Hurricane
' reels you back in to a calmer state before the harrowing violins jar you into a journey around 'Our Forgotten Towns
'. 'No Barriers
' lifts the mood again before a tender acoustic track 'Alone In This Darkness
' which leads into my favourite bit of the album...
'Raft Of The Medusa' is an almost sea-shanty-esque romp which tells the what turns out to be harrowing tale of the crew of the grounded French frigate The Medusa who were abandoned by their officers, 147 of them, on a crudely constructed raft that was supposed to be being towed by the boats reserved for those in command. This leads into the highlight of the album for me, 'Mutiny' tells the story of Jesse Robert Short, a veteran of frontline action in the First World War, he was sent to Étaples - a notorious training camp - where he was executed for his supposed part in a mutiny their by soldiers due to mistreatment by the leaders there.
We then trip through 'Traveller' - perhaps, if there is such a thing, the weakest moment on the album (maybe down to track ordering as much as anything) into the lively 'Second Life' a damning indictment into aspects of modern life before rounding off with the ludicrously catchy 'The Recruiting Sergeant' - a collaboration with Divokej Bill, and feels like a bunch of musicians having a great laugh whilst delivering a tremendous re-rendering of this classic song for more modern times.
A great album for fans of the Levellers, or perhaps those who had written the band off or have never considered them before.