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Leftfield: 'Leftism'

Here's a review I posted on TuneSocial when I joined Facebook a few years ago. This album is one of the finest creations in the world of debatable dance classics. (In my humble opinion!)

I fairly obviously do NOT write for a music magazine... Stuart Maconie can sleep soundly in his bed tonight and for the foreseeable future!

First things first; All due respect to my son, James, and his pals for thrusting this music into the shared home environment of low-key parties and soirées.
Second; I’ve avoided as much research as possible in order to retain the immediate but lasting responses which come from the music itself.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be doing this at all as it’s going to turn out far too personal for the likes of an objective review. Still, there are some things that demand to be shared – so here goes!
01. Release the Pressure
Let them in gently… First proposition - “Peace and Unity” – very nice. No pan pipes. Thank god, someone’s got hold of a blissed-out tin whistle player to add those plaintive notes. Follow up with a gentle nod to the beat which will accompany us on this journey and a burbling, bubbling collection of sounds more stylish and layered than a Nicky Clarke haircut. (This comes hard to a red-blooded male like me but, after a few listens, this familiar, intricate intro induces a dewy-eyed response in knowing appreciation of the delights which are only beginning.)
Quite a lot going on already but then (at 2 minutes 46 seconds for all our obsessive compulsive listeners) with a snappy double drop on a dustbin lid Leftfield nail their colours to the mast. We get the freely available, non-prescription bass and full-on beat which cures many ills. Conversation stops and the wiser among us will let the ears flap while the body responds with those semi-rehearsed yet involuntary movements in sympathetic syncopation.
Pressure release… DONE. (Thank you Gordon. Now fuck off out of my review!)
Best to stop at this one – can’t get much better… can it? READ ON!
02. Afro-Left
Ah! – so glad we persevered! This is world music with knobs on. Well, there’s a jingly-jangly string thing which Robert Plant could, no doubt, identify. (Where’s a rock deity when you need one? Strikes me Leftfield are rising to celestial spheres as we listen.) No frustration with the indecipherable African words. They just mix in with another welcome percussive element. (You will google lyrics in vain for most of this album but don’t fret – The beats the thing wherein you’ll catch the conscience of the King.) By the time this one’s over you realise that you’ve already been served up more varied electronic snaps, animal-skinned drum crackles and human hand pops than are heard from a Guinness World Record helping of Rice Krispies.
03. Melt
Bit like a Beethoven surprise movement, this one. More understated but just as compelling. I’m getting wide vistas laid down with broad brush-strokes but that’s just me mixing my musical and painting metaphors. Quick mug of Ovaltine recommended with this bit of comparative calm!
04. Song of Life
The previous melting moment isn’t immediately banished by this one. Maybe a juxtaposition of the placid and frenetic times in life. At any rate, after building nicely, Leftfield twiddle the knob of a shortwave radio and tune in to the equivalent of the Luton Girls’ Marching Band. They kick in with a beat so insistent that we witness the birth of a Formation Trance Team strutting on to the floor. Make an orderly queue for the ensuing placenta dinner!
05. Original
Young woman seeks life-reassurance from mum’s words. Somewhat dark and broody but where to find more vocal deliveries from this lady – Tasty!
Oh, well spotted – This did start with the sound-clip that Big Bro nicked for the first few series!
06. Black Flute
Short and sweet – (Shortest track and, hey, they’re all sweet!) If you’re listening to this while in charge of an internally combusted engine it might be best to give over control of the wheel to someone less susceptible to all-consuming spark-plugged beats.
07. Space Shanty
O.K., any risk assessment will by now have identified enough foreseeable hazards to make it imperative that you leave the vehicle and take all fellow passengers with you! Return to solid ground and conduct your jumping, twitching responses to this bounce-inducer where least harm will be done. For those sensible enough to be listening in the comfort of their own home, there are a sufficient number of percussive poundings to synchronise with the complaining banging from the unsympathetic occupants of the flat above!
08. Inspection (Check One)
On board with a fruity, cheery, cheeky chappie giving up a reticulated rasta/reggae/rap recipe. This is Shaggy with the addition of unassailable street-credentials. Bombastic!
09. Storm 3000

Just a tad more menacing than when the baroque barometer drops in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Drums thud out the thunder but just enjoy the soundscape as the meteorology metronome defines the mood.
10. Open Up
Next comes John Lydon’s fine (finest?) moment. Whose idea was this collaboration and have they received their knighthood yet? The intonation may not be faultless but that matters not a jot as Lydon whoops and hollers a punkture perfect damnation of all that is Rotten (sic!) with fame and celebrity. His utter delight to be involved is tangible as he joyfully consigns his fellow publicity seekers to the fires of Hell. Sizzling!
11. 21st Century Poem
The closer brings a take on “Blowin’ in the Wind”. It’s a sombre wake-up call but you’re left with the reassuring bass that has underpinned this whole work. It finally reasserts itself as the beating heart that we hear in the womb, subdued but ever-present and insistently life-confirming.
As a guide to my estimation of this album, I have played it almost as much as anything by Dylan, the Stones or the Beatles … and they are who I grew up with!
God knows what this whole creation sounds like blasting from a top-notch, bells and whistles club sound system. It demands a listen through the straining cones of your home equipment at the very least. If you’re not yet familiar with it, stump up the few requisite, worth-every-penny pounds and luxuriate in a sonic experience that will grab you and grind you into awed appreciation. (You will not be asking for a refund or an exchange!)”

 

 

 

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