And just as I ended the previous post with a plug, I can start this with one too: my new "friends" (by which I mean, people who said something nice about this blog once) over at 1p Album Club have just posted about this song's parent album Zeitgeist. It was the band's only chart-topper, though it got there almost by default when all eyes were on the Help! charity album that's represented a couple of times on Now 32 (and to which the Levellers themselves contributed). Its sales that week were by no means the lowest ever but it's a sign of the good times the album market was entering around this time that not until 2012 did another album top the chart on so few sales: in fairness, they'd probably sold more the week before when they were Number 2.Levellers were created as far back as 1988 and named themselves after a radical section of Oliver Cromwell's Civil War followers... Their hits to date have included 'This Garden', '15 years', 'Hope Street' and 'Just The One', this No. 12 smash from Christmastime 1995.
In fact, the album version of this number is a brief ditty of barely 100 seconds duration, tucked away in the middle of the second side, and when I borrowed the album from a classmate I thought it one of the highlights. For single release, however, the track was entirely re-recorded, with several additional verses and a piano solo by Joe Strummer, formerly of The Clash and perhaps more pertinently The Pogues. True to form, he didn't contribute to either of the Top Of The Pops appearances for this song. These additions stretch the running time by more than a minute, making it more radio-friendly, but in the end more seems to have been lost than gained. Fleshing out the storyline seems to remove a lot of the song's charm, somewhat undermining the lyric "The rest's a blank, and that's the worst/An empty head for an empty purse" in what remains the final verse. And the music lacks the light-hearted spontaneous mood it had in its original form. Still, it got them another Number 12 hit.
Also appearing on: Now 26
Available on: One Way Of Life - The Best Of The Levellers