Book review: On track…LEVEL 42, AIMEE MANN (Every Album, Every Song)

On track...LEVEL 42 (Every Album, Every Song)

Sonicbond Publishing [Publication date 01.04.21]

Level 42 were very much a band of the eighties – the decade of their greatest success – and  submerged their early brand of jazz rock fusion in a highly accessible blend of pop funk.  With big label backing the band had a succession of hit singles and big live shows.

Their early albums were defined by a fusion of rock, funk and pop and by the time of their official debut release on Polydor in 1982 they were at the vanguard of so-called Brit Funk, influenced by some of the US heavyweights such as Stanley Clarke and Herbie Hancock.

Level 42′s USP was Mark King, originally a drummer before switching to bass.  He provided the band’s propulsive and distinctive heartbeat, whilst Mark Lindop on keyboards possessed a distinctive falsetto.

Matt Phillips traces the band’s history via the individual members including the Gould brothers – Phil and Boon – and not forgetting the “fifth” band member during their heyday (and later) Wally Badarou.  A bit like Malcolm Cecil and Bob Margouleff did for Stevie Wonder, Badarou was a synthesiser wizard providing production and playing skills although he never appeared with them on stage.

During the band’s history they have also been graced by several significant musicians, including Allan Holdsworth (on the album Guaranteed in 1991), Gary Husband and Jakko Jaksyk.

Since the 1990s the band have continued to tour with the occasional new release and before the pandemic were poised to celebrate their 40th anniversary.

This book is enhanced by contributions from both Mark King and Lindup whilst Phillips also provides a musician’s insight to the track by track breakdown.  A worthy and welcome re-assessment.  ****

Mark King interview/feature

Singer songwriter Aimee Mann may seem a rather niche subject for a  track by track breakdown.  Some will recall she originally fronted the pop rock band ‘Til Tuesday before a solo career beckoned in the early 1990s.

As Jez Rowden states in his preamble his interpretation of the songs is personal and may not even agree with that of the artist.  He might also be at variance with the reader, but then that is the frequently highly subjective nature of this series.

With a plundering of available references this is at least an attempt to piece together Mann’s story in the absence of any other printed biography.  This should appeal to Mann fans as much as those discovering the artist for the first time.  ***

Review by David Randall

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Power Plays w/c 8 August 2022 (Mon-Fri)
BORN LOST Take Time (Mouthpiece) (Revolver Records)
JAIME KYLE Driving With The Brakes On (Conquest Music)
SCARLET DORN Born To Suffer (SPV Recordings)
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