The Compass Wednesday, Decembers, 1992 11
If these Celtic rockers don't pump you up
you may*be ready for a formaldehyde bath
Mark Chadwick, Simon Friend, Chariie Heather, Jon Sevink and Jeremy Cunningham
(left to right) make up the British Celtic rock group. The Levellers.
by J. Gary Brinn
Okay, so our printer didn't get it. Let's
try again. The name of this column is
"Edectic Beat." Eclectic because I'll re
view almost anything. Beat because
you're pretty beat if you don't read it. So
Today we cross the big water. That's
right, boys and girls, we're off to the U.K.
in search of a new sound. We find it in the
Levellers. This band is the embodiment
of Celtic Rock. Now, that may sound like
an oxymoron, but read on.
First a bit about the name and the
group's label-history. The Levellers were
a political party during the days of the
EnglishQ^ War. They had strangeideas
about all people being equal, about free
dom of speedi and religion, and other
such bits of poppy-cock. They wanted to
niake all things level, hence the name.
The group shares many of these same
absurd sentiments. Serious lyrics are
paired with delightful melodies in a deli
cate balance between sincerity and arti
fice. The group formed in1988, and a year
later they released two EP s on their ovm
label, HAG. In 1990 they released their
firstfulllength,i4 Weapon Called The Word.
The disc received rave reviews in En
gland, launching a bidding war between
the major British labels. The group settled
on China Records, a smaller label that
offered them more artistic freedom. The
result was l99VsLeoelling theLand. Elektra
Records has signed the group, and has
brought the '91 release out in thecoloiues.
strongly influenced by Celtic tradi
tion. Rock's requisite guitars and drums
are joined by a violin, with occasional
appearances by the banjo and the man
dolin. The Levellers put these instruments
to work. Unlike some groups of yank
musicians, this Celtic quintet gives its
traditional instruments center stage. The
violin plays lead in several numbers, and
the banjo wails on a nimiber of tracks.
Elektra describes the Levellers as being
somewhere between the Clash and the
Pogues, and while you can't often trust
promo sheets, the description is fitting. In
fact,LeoellingtheLand isonheavy rotation
on my personal album chart.
The disc opens with a rocker, a
darKeable tune called "One Way." The
fact is, all of this groups songs are
danceable. These songs should go as well
with the club scene as fish go v«th chips.
If you can't get pumped listening to this,
cratic sentiment, asserting the individu
ality of ways of life. Not surprising from
a group whose membership includes a
crusty. A crusty is a hippie-punk who
wanders the countryside in search of a
brew or a place to crash, or bleeding-good
The first mind-blowing fiddle break
shows up in "The Game." This is no
Charlie Daniels, fella! The song is a strong
indictment of political and religiouslead-
ers. I guess the Levellers have had enough
of Tories. If you hadn't figured out that
you were dealing with dyed-in-the-pro-
verbial-wool Celts, you know it by the
thiixl track, "The Boatman." It opens lyri
cally, it closes with a growling. In be
tween is a fine tune that conjures up a
Highland's dance- an exchange between
New Caledonia and Belfast- the fierce
independence of the Scots. The closing
bars of this song could make a fine stand
"Liberty Song" and "Sell Out" speak
specifically to freedom and democracy.
TTie crafty lads have muffled the back
ground vocals in the first of these tunes,
producing a sound reminiscent of the
BBC on a cheap telly. The latter of these
songs is the hardest rocker on the disc.
The group seems at their lightest when
they drop their political persona and be
come the wandering dance band that
they are. They do this in 'Tar From Home"
and "The Road." They remain light in a
song that otherwise has a heavy message.
"You'd take a drink from the Reverend
Jimmy Jones," they sing in "The
Riverflow." "You'd set the table for the
barber Sweeney Todd," they cry in this
rousing pub tune that looks at the
underclasses. They are less jovial in their
indictment of alcoholic beverage adver
tising. The husband of 'Tifteen Years"
doesn't understand why his wife has left
him, despite his alcohol addiction and
The Levellers are at their peak in the
disc's two tracks that deal vsdth things
uniquely British. In the "Battle of the
Beanfield" they address the horrific at
tack by the police on a group of nomads
known as the Travellers. In a more uni
versal vein, they touch on war in "An
other Man's Cause," a moving tune in
which it is revealed that Daddy was killed
in the Falklands, Brother was killed in the
Persian Gulf, and now the last son has
gone off to duty.
Levelling the Land is a fine disc. Pick up
two copies next time you hit the record
store, one for yourself, and one for your
favorite progressive rockei^s stocking.
Special effects bring Dracula's tale to life
®y J.J. Lewis and Melanie Harrington
I^ath has no power over true love in
Francis Ford Coppola's version of Bratn
Stoker's Dracula. This film is the story of
I'ow one man's love can overoonne even
^ certainty of death itself.
8*^ off to war leaving his beloved wife
Elizabeth at home. Believing her hus-
^nd to be dead, Elizabeth (Winona
her own life. Unable to accept his
''^'s death as payment for his service to
^ church as a warrior, Vlad renounces
God and claims vengeance on the world
itself. This transforms him into thea vam
pire that has the superhuman abilities
and a God-like presence.
By mere coincidence or fate, Dracula
finds the incarnation of his beloved in
1897 London. His quest to recaphire the
loveof Elizabeth, now Mina, takes Prince
Vlad into a battle for not just love, but
Setting, costumes, and special effects
enhanced this harrowing tie. Dracula's
quest takes the viewer from fifteenth cen
tury Transylvania to nineteenth century
London and back to Transylvania for the
in reality shot on a sound stage—were
authentic that the viewer feels as if he or
she is there.
Gary Oldman's ability to portray each
face of Dracula was excellent. However,
this would not have been accomplished
without the spectacular make-up and la
tex costumes. The costume designers
deserve special recognition for their mar
velous job. They transformed Gary
Oldman from a m^ieval knight to an old
man to an English gentleman to a
werewolf arwl finally to a huge bat.
The special effects enhanced the layout
and design of the movie. The scene deal
ing with the battle at the beginning of the
movie used camera angles to make a
spear look as if it actually went through a
Camera tricks were used in the scene
when Jonathon,( Keanu Reeves), was
investigatinga trunkin a forbiddenroom
in the castle of Dracula. Jonathon picked
up a bottle and opened it, but to his
surprise the liquid inside dripped up,
de^ng the laws of gravity. Dracula took
the ^ape of a glowing green fog in sev
eral scenes. In another, his shadow had a
life of it's own.
When Dracula was talkingto Jonathon,
his shadow was moving on it's owm ac
cord, acting out the real motives of it's
master. When put together each of these
components created the perfect atmo
sphere for a vampire film.
Overall, Bram Stoker's Dracula was an
exdting, dramatic movie that enthralled
it's viewers and lead their emotions in a
cor\stant circle of sympathy, fear, love,
suspense, and even hatred. ...