Leftfield is a British electronic band 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 RivalsA Man Called Adam and the Brand New Heavies). In January 2010, Barnes resurrected the band name and having toured the world for a couple of years is now writing new material for a third album. 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 OriginalJohnny Rotten on Open UpDjum Djum on Afro-Left and Earl 16 andCheshire Cat on Release the Pressure. The term progressive house was coined to define their style, a fusion of house with dub and reggae.[2]


 [hide*1 Career


Neil Barnes' entry into the music world was 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 result of which was the track Not Forgotten, released on theRhythm King label, and More Than I Know.[2] For the remixes of these tracks, Barnes called upon Paul Daley,[4] percussion player with A Man Called Adamand 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 its first single with editing/arranging and additional production added by Daley "Not Forgotten", 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 RhythmICPSuperealInner CitySunscreem,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 dubbreakbeat, 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 Qplaced 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]Edit

Their second and final album, Rhythm and Stealth (1999) maintained a similar style, and featured Roots ManuvaAfrika 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 #1 in the UK Albums Chart.[6] The album featured the song "Phat Planet" which featured on Guinness' 1999 advertSurfer,[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.

Public Reception[edit]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 O2mobile 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]Edit

[1][2]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;[7]subsequently, the group was banned from ever returning to the venue.[7] The ban however was taken by the band as a ban on the sound system and not themselves,[7] which was confirmed when Leftfield played Brixton 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.[8]


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 atIreland's three-day festival, 'Electric Picnic' in September. Further headline festival shows were announced in the coming weeks.[9] 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.[10]


Studio albums[edit]Edit

Year Album Details Peak Chart Positions Certification
1995 Leftism
  • Studio Album
3 - 32 - - 27 - - -
1999 Rhythm and Stealth
  • Studio Album
1 40 7 54 36 3 4 38 11
  • UK: Platinum[11]



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
32 - - - - - - - -

Live albums[edit]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" (feat. Earl Sixteen) Leftism
"Song of Life" 59 27
1993 "Open Up" (feat. John Lydon) 13 39 39
1995 "Original" (feat. Toni Halliday) 18
"Afro-Left EP" (feat. Djum Djum) 22 20
1996 "Release The Pressure '96" (feat. Earl Sixteen, Cheshire Cat & Papa Dee) 13 single only
1999 "Afrika Shox" (feat. Afrika Bambaataa) 7 11 23 Rhythm and Stealth
"Dusted" (feat. Roots Manuva) 28
2000 "Swords" (feat. Nicole Willis)
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


Soundtracks and various compilations[edit]Edit

"Shallow Grave" (Feat. 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)
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