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For other uses, see Leftfield (disambiguation).
Leftfield playing live at Brixton Academy, London in December 2010. From left to right: Earl 16, Djum Djum, Neil Barnes, Sebastien Beresford, Cheshire Cat and Adam Wren.
Background information
Origin London, England
Years active 1989–2002, 2010–present
Labels Infectious Music (present)
Outer Rhythm / Rhythm King, Hard Hands / Chrysalis Music, Columbia / SME Records (former)
Associated acts Earl Sixteen, John Lydon, Roots Manuva, Afrika Bambaataa
Website leftfieldmusic.com
Members Neil Barnes - keyboards, programming
Adam Wren - engineering, programming
Sebastien Beresford - drums
Past members Paul Daley

Leftfield is a British electronic project formed in 1989 in London, England. From 1989 to 2002, Leftfield was a duo of artists and record producers that consisted of Neil Barnes and Paul Daley (formerly of the Rivals, A Man Called Adam and the Brand New Heavies). In January 2010, Barnes resurrected Leftfield and having toured the world for a couple of years has finished writing new material for a third album entitled Alternative Light Source. Daley has declined to be involved and is focusing upon his solo career.

The duo were hugely influential in the evolution of electronic music in the 1990s with Mixmag describing them as "the single most influential production team working in British dance music".[1] As with many of their contemporaries such as the Chemical Brothers, Leftfield were notable for their use of guest vocalists in their electronic music. Among the more prominent were Toni Halliday on "Original", Johnny Rotten on "Open Up", Djum Djum on "Afro-Left", and Earl 16 and Cheshire Cat on "Release the Pressure". The term progressive house was coined to define their style, a fusion of house with dub and reggae.[2]


Neil Barnes' music career started off as a DJ at The Wag Club while simultaneously playing percussion instruments on a session basis. Around 1989, inspired by Afrika Bambaata,[3] Barnes decided to try his hand at electronic music production, the results of which were the tracks "Not Forgotten" and "More Than I Know", released on the Rhythm King label.[2] For the remixes of these tracks, Barnes called upon Paul Daley,[4] percussion player with A Man Called Adam and formerly a session musician for the Brand New Heavies and Primal Scream, appearing on their Dixie-Narco EP.[1][3] Barnes and Daley had previously worked together as percussionists at The Sandals first club, Violets.[1][3] Described by Barnes as "[t]he sound of 15 years of frustration coming out in one record", the piece was termed "Progressive House" by Mixmag and held significant prominence in nightclubs from 1991 onwards.[1] As their mutual interest in electronic music became clear the pair decided that they would work instead upon Leftfield, once Barnes had extricated himself from his now troublesome contract with Rhythm King subsidiary, Outer Rhythm.[1][2] The name Leftfield was originally used simply by Barnes for his first single with editing/arranging and additional production added by Daley, but after this, Daley was involved in remixing "Not Forgotten" and then in the creation of all Leftfield's music.

During this period, in which the band could not release their own music owing to the legal dispute with Rhythm King, the pair undertook remix work for React 2 Rhythm, ICP, Supereal, Inner City, Sunscreem, Ultra Nate and provided two remixes to David Bowie's single "Jump They Say". Finally, once the problems with their former label had been sorted out, Leftfield were able to unveil their single "Release the Pressure".[2]



Leftfield's first major career break came with the single "Open Up", a collaboration with John Lydon (of Sex Pistols fame) that was soon followed by their debut album, Leftism in 1995, blending dub, breakbeat, and techno. It was shortlisted for the 1995 Mercury Music Prize but lost out to Portishead's Dummy.[5] In a 1998 Q magazine poll, readers voted it the eightieth greatest album of all time, while in 2000 Q placed it at number 34 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. The album was re-released in 2000 with a bonus disc of remixes.

Rhythm and Stealth[edit]

Their second album, Rhythm and Stealth (1999) maintained a similar style, and featured Roots Manuva, Afrika Bambaataa, and MC Cheshire Cat from Birmingham. The album was shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize in 2000 but lost out to Badly Drawn Boy's The Hour of Bewilderbeast. It reached No. 1 in the UK Albums Chart.[6] The album featured the song "Phat Planet" which featured on Guinness' 1999 advert, Surfer,[5] and "6/8 War" featured on the Volkswagen Lupo Advert 'Demon Baby'. The track "Double Flash" featured in the PlayStation software game Music 2000.

Alternative Light Source[edit]

On March 25, 2015, the new single, "Universal Everything", was premiered on Annie Mac's BBC Radio 1 show. Shortly afterwards the new album was announced via the Leftfield website and social networks, along with UK tour dates for June 2015.[7]

Alternative Light Source, Leftfield's first album in 16 years, was released on June 8, 2015 on Infectious Records.[8] On June 1, 2015, the album premiere was streamed live on Twitter, coupled with conversation via hashtag #leftfieldstream.[9] 'Head and Shoulders' features Sleaford Mods on vocals, and its stop-motion and animation hybrid video debuted on Pitchfork on 6 August 2015. [10]

Commercial use of tracks[edit]

Leftfield's track "Phat Planet" was used in the "Surfers" TV advertisement for Guinness, ranked number one in Channel 4's Top 100 Adverts list in 2000. "Phat Planet" was also used in the animated television series Beast Machines, the simulation racing games F1 2000 by EA Sports and Racedriver GRID by Codemasters. In addition, their song "Release the Pressure" was used on advertisements for the O2 mobile phone network at its launch, and "A Final Hit" was featured on the Trainspotting soundtrack;[5] the b-side "Afro Ride" was also featured on the soundtracks to both wipE'out" and wipE'out" 2097 although it did not appear on the album of the first game.

They also released a series of singles and two albums before breaking up in 2002 to focus on solo projects.

Live performances[edit]

Djum Djum playing theremin during Afro-Left in December 2010

At the debut Leftfield gig, in Amsterdam, the Dutch police were close to arresting the sound-man due to the sound system reaching illegal volumes.[citation needed] At the next concert, in Belgium, thirty people were given refunds after complaining that the sound level was too high, leading to a newspaper headline reading "Leftfield Too Loud".[citation needed] In June 1996, while the group was playing at Brixton Academy, the sound system caused dust and plaster to fall from the roof;[11] subsequently, the group was banned from ever returning to the venue.[11] The ban however was taken by the band as a ban on the sound system and not themselves,[11] which was confirmed when Leftfield played Brixton again on 20 May 2000.

In November and December 2010 Leftfield did a series of dates around the UK and Ireland. Friday 3 December's gig saw more plaster fall from Brixton Academy's ceiling.[12]


Leftfield headlined Creamfields in Cheshire, England in August 2010, RockNess in Highland, Scotland in June 2010, and played the final set on the main stage at Ireland's three-day festival, Electric Picnic in September. Further headline festival shows were announced in the coming weeks.[13] However, Leftfield is now represented by Barnes alone with a backing band and singers, as Daley is concentrating on his DJ work, as well as releasing a solo album.[14]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart positions Certification
1995 Leftism 3 27 32
1999 Rhythm and Stealth 1 4 11 40 38 3 7 54 36
2015 Alternative Light Source 6 42 28 31


Year Album details Peak chart positions Certification
1992 Backlog
  • Joint compilation album
2000 Stealth Remixes
  • Remix album
2005 A Final Hit: Greatest Hits
  • Greatest hits

Live albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart positions Certification
2012 Tourism


Year Single Peak positions Album
1990 "Not Forgotten" singles only
1991 "More Than I Know" 98
1992 "Release the Pressure" (featuring Earl Sixteen) Leftism
"Song of Life" 59 27
1993 "Open Up" (featuring John Lydon) 13 39 39
1995 "Original" (featuring Toni Halliday) 18
"Afro-Left EP" (featuring Djum Djum) 22 20
1996 "Release the Pressure '96" (featuring Earl Sixteen, Cheshire Cat & Papa Dee) 13 single only
1999 "Afrika Shox" (featuring Afrika Bambaataa) 7 11 23 Rhythm and Stealth
"Dusted" (featuring Roots Manuva) 28
2000 "Swords" (featuring Nicole Willis)
2015 "Universal Everything" Alternative Light Source
"Bilocation" (featuring Channy Leaneagh)
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


Soundtracks and various compilations[edit]

"Shallow Grave" (Featuring Christopher Eccleston)
"Release the Dubs"
"Inspection (Check One)"
"Open Up" (featuring John Lydon)
"Afro Ride" (from the EP Afro-Left)
  • From 104.9 (An XFM Compilation)
"A Final Hit"
"A Final Hit" (full-length version)
"Afro Ride" (from the EP Afro-Left)
  • From the Go soundtrack
"Swords" (featuring Nicole Willis) (Original Version)
"Afrika Shox"
"Phat Planet"
"Song of Life" (Fanfare of Life)


  1. ^ a b c d e f Frank Tope (February 1995). "Burn Bassbins Burn". Mixmag 2 (45): 46–50. 
  2. ^ a b c d "RELEASE THE PRESSURE!". Melody Maker. 5 December 1992. 
  3. ^ a b c "Rave Gauche". New Musical Express. 5 February 1995. 
  4. ^ "Gauche in the Machine". New Musical Express. May 1996. 
  5. ^ a b c d Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. p. 562. ISBN 1-84195-017-3. 
  6. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 316. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  8. ^ "Leftfield return with Alternative Light Source". 
  9. ^ "TONIGHT: Leftfield to live-stream new album" (Never Enough Notes). Never Enough Notes. 1 June 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  10. ^ "Leftfield and Sleaford Mods share new video for ‘Head And Shoulders’" (Never Enough Notes). Never Enough Notes. 6 August 2015. Retrieved 6 August 2015. 
  11. ^ a b c "Leftfield – Rhythm and Stealth review". Gareth Grundy (Select magazine). Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  12. ^ "LEFTFIELD – LEFTFIELD TOUR IN MAY: UK dates announced.". music3w.com. 7 April 2000. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  13. ^ Marszalek, Julian (2 February 2010), Leftfield Reform for Loch Ness, Spinner 
  14. ^ Paul Daley, leftfieldtour.co.uk, retrieved 2010-07-20 
  15. ^ a b "Certified Awards Search". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved on 9 September 2011. Note: User needs to enter "Leftfield" in the "Search" field, "Artist" in the "Search by" field and click the "Go" button. Select "More info" next to the relevant entry to see full certification history.
  16. ^ "Certified Awards Search". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry – Norway . Retrieved on 9 September 2011. Note: User needs to enter "Leftfield" in the "Search" field, "Artist" in the "Search by" field and click the "Go" button. Select "More info" next to the relevant entry to see full certification history.
  17. ^ "Official Charts Company: Leftfield". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2014-04-27. 
  18. ^ "Leftfield – US Dance Club Songs". billboard.com. Retrieved 2014-04-27. 

External links[edit]