All trouble

Darkness Falls Playlist: The Levons – a bluesy mix from the Merseyside musos
By Tempe Nakiska | Music | 29 December 2014

Still, video for ‘The Other Guy’ by The Levons

Above: Still from video for ‘The other guy’ by The Levons

Winter has descended and that means it’s time to delve into our latest mix series, with playlists from the bands featured in Issue 12. Next up is The Levons.

Liverpool’s The Levons took their name from Levon Helm, lead singer of The Band – a fitting nod to the who’s who of rock ‘n’ roll names that make up their meaty list of references. Still, their own music writes its own code. Modernist blues strains are shaken up and chucked back at your ears in a catchy wall of guitar riffs and relatable lyrics. The response to their recent EP has been appropriately encouraging. “Everyone’s been so sound,” says lead singer Nathaniel Cummings. “The reaction to it has been boss, so supportive and complementary, we appreciate it so much.”

Here the boys have put their heads together and knocked out a playlist full of the tracks that have been rattling their speakers on rotation of late. From Scott Walker to Nat King Cole, it’s a soulful trip that we’re taking as a welcome gift in time the festive period. ‘Cos there’s no better way to bring in the new year than to the sexy strains of Marvin Gaye.

Why Can’t I Be Loved? by Alicia & The Rockaways, selected by Nathaniel (vocals / rhythm guitar)
“An obscure doo-wap song from 1956 by a band called Alicia & The Rockaways; they came to my attention whilst watching a documentary on Lou Reed, during which they were cited as one of his favourite bands growing up.”

I Love You for Sentimental Reasons by Nat King Cole, selected by Nathaniel
“An infamous tune with hundreds of versions available to hear online, but this is my favourite. The vocal is infatuating and it credits a wonderfully charming song with the subtlety and sentiment it truly deserves.”

Where the Boys Are by Connie Francis, selected by Nathaniel
“Somewhat ashamedly this song was recommended to me by my grandmother as one her sister would sing to her family when they were growing up. Again, another resounding vocal, this time from Connie Francis, this one’s a real heart-breaker.”

St. James Infirmary by Louis Armstrong, selected by Nathaniel
“Recommended to me by a friend from a local orchestra, the rhythm is instantly identifiable, full of sorrow and remorse. It’s a stark contrast to the predictably joyous pieces for which Louis Armstrong is most famous.”

Tennessee Waltz by Sam Cooke, selected by Nathaniel
“Sam Cooke is one of the most under appreciated songwriters of all time in my opinion – I happen to think he’s one of the greatest. Although he recorded his version of this classic almost 20 years after it was originally penned in 1946, his rendition is laden with such trademark class and individuality that one would easily be mistaken in thinking this was the original. Again, the vocal is breathtaking and the subject suitably relatable.”

Right On by Marvin Gaye, selected by Danny (vocals / lead guitar)
“Great tune off ‘What’s going on?’  with The Funk Brothers grooving along.”

Green River by CCR, selected by Danny
“Opener to Green River album, boss guitar riff and impressive vocals from John Fogherty.”

One Drop by Bob Marley, selected by Danny

Que Vida! by Love, selected by Danny
“I’ve been listening to this a lot recently along with the rest of the album ‘Da Capo’ Love Arthur Lee’s melody and the flute!”

Mississippi Train by Fred Neil, selected by Danny
“One of my favourites off Bleecker and Macdougal.”

Just Like The Rain by Richard Hawley, selected by Phil (drums)
I’m a huge Richard Hawley fan, and this is possibly the stand-out track on the album ‘Coles Corner’,” says Phil. “He has a great voice, and the melodies in his songs are infectious.”

The Night by Franki Valli and The Four Seasons, selected by Phil
I love the bass and drums at the start of this tune, and it’s just a great upbeat Northern Soul tune.”

Revolution Blues by Neil Young, selected by Phil
“One of my favourite songs by Neil Young – the boss bass and drum groove created by Rick Danko and Levon Helm from The Band contribute a lot towards the overall tune.”

The Old Man’s Back Again by Scott Walker, selected by Phil
“Another tune noticeable for it’s superb bass playing – this is a haunting song about the ghost of Stalin in the USSR! Taken from the album Scott 4, released in 1969.”

The Trouble by The Levons, selected by Phil
For our own song, I’ve chosen one from our debut EP. It is the first song where Danny and Nathaniel both sang a lead vocal in the same song, something which we’ve been looking to do more as a band when writing our new songs.”

The Levons’ debut self-titled EP is out now. Follow The Levons on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud.


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