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World Machine

Level 42

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Album Review

Level 42 was one of Britain's most successful bands by the time World Machine was released in 1985, but U.S. success was elusive. But that changed with the engaging single "Something About You," which became a Top Ten hit in America and sent this album soaring into the Top 20. World Machine pushes their newfound radio-friendly sound into the forefront, and the result is one of the finest pop albums of the mid-'80s. "Something About You" exemplifies Level 42's sound at the peak of its success. Bassist Mark King's vocals, while limited in range, are soulful and yearning, while keyboardist Mike Lindup's complimentary falsetto backing vocals add just the right ingredient to the mix. Given the group's original guise as an all-instrumental jazz combo, the musicianship is brilliant, and "Something About You" proves how good a song can sound coming from the radio. Unlike most albums that contain one strong single surrounded by duds, World Machine has more than its share of fine tunes. The jazzy, upbeat title track is one of the band's finest moments, the should've-been-a-hit "Leaving Me Now" is an effective ballad, and the midtempo "Good Man in a Storm" is catchy and thought-provoking. While not perfect — "Physical Presence" drags, and "It's Not the Same for Us" is a bit too cutesy for its own good — World Machine is the most successful album in Level 42's career, both in terms of sales and quality.

Customer Reviews

Fantastic band

How is it that I'm the first to write a review of this wonderful album? Level 42 was one of the 80s finest bands. Not only could these guys write excellent songs, they could blow most other pop bands out of the water with their playing skills. the only thing better than a Level 42 album was a Level 42 live performance. This album ranks as one of their best (it was, I believe, their most commercially successful as well). Unfortunately, this version is the U.S. release, which has a different track listing from the original U.K. release. Regardless, if you like good pop and, certainly, if you are a musician, you HAVE to check this band out. It's a shame their other albums aren't available on iTunes...

Smoothest band around.

This album was the smoothest, richest, sound of the eighties. One of those albums best listened to with earphones on and eyes closed. The tight, crisp musicianship is impressive although a few track are a minute or so too long.

Biography

Formed: 1980 in Manchester, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

At the beginning of their career, Level 42 was squarely a jazz-funk fusion band, contemporaries of fellow Brit funk groups like Atmosfear, Light of the World, Incognito, and Beggar & Co. By the end of the '80s, however, the band — whose music was instantly recognizable from Mark King's thumb-slap bass technique and associate member Wally Badarou's synthesizer flourishes — had crossed over to the point where they were often classified as sophisti-pop and dance-rock, equally likely...
Full bio