Release Date: May 26, 2017
Record label: Sony Music
Genre(s): Electronic, House
Dance acts transferring their ability to thrill beyond one off 12"s to the long playing format was a relatively new thing, and a trick not yet mastered by many; only Underworld's Dubnobasswithmyheadman, Orbital's Brown Album, The Prodigy's Music For The Jilted Generation and Fluke's Techno Rose of Blighty had really pulled it off at the time, though each now enjoys 'classic album' status. While many played up the rock-y angle of Underworld, the soundtrack geekery of Orbital and nu-punk of The Prodigy, Leftfield proved to be the most purist of these acts, and Dubnobass... aside, this is the album that has aged best out of those it was lumped in with at the time.
While Leftism is rightly remembered as a seminal work of ‘90s house music from an English perspective, perhaps its most defining characteristic is its open, eclectic, fusion-like approach to the genre. Paul Daley and Neil Barnes were never purists, at least not in the dogmatic sense of the word. Their 1995 full-length debut as Leftfield found them tapping into diverse musical veins and unexpected collaborations, from John Lydon (formerly Johnny Rotten) to Curve’s Toni Halliday.
The 90s: was it really all about Knebworth and girl power? Clubs, house parties, school work, you name it: for many, it was soundtracked by electronica. The acid house explosion had matured into something deeper and broader, and while anonymous dance records were 10-a-penny, a small band of travellers capitalised on the waves of new fans, and turned it into an album genre like any other. Leftfield's Leftism was a major part of that, its 1995 release wrapping up and adding to several years of barnstorming singles.
Leftism was, in many ways, the absolute centrepoint of the 1990s, and represented the breaking of dance culture's second wave of mainstreaming. The first had come early in the decade with the likes of LFO, Altern-8, The Orb, Orbital and The Future Sound Of London proving that '90s electronic music was an album- and festival-friendly genre. In 1994, though, Underworld's Dubnobasswithmyheadman and The Prodigy's Music For The Jilted Generation went further.