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The Definitive Collection

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Album Review

The Definitive Collection is a strange choice for a greatest-hits package, unless it is simply designed to get a generation who has never known Level 42's music to appreciate the funky basslines and really good melodies that the band regularly turned out during the 1980s. After all, at the end of their career on the Polydor label, they released Level Best, a hits compilation that included most of their singles, especially from their peak period of 1985-1987. Then they signed to RCA, hopefully to achieve a new lease of life in the 1990s, and although they did have another couple of Top Ten albums, Guaranteed and Forever Now, the big and memorable hit singles were long behind them. Polydor then issued a couple of hits packages, The Very Best of Level 42 in 1998 and The Ultimate Collection in 2002, and although neither performed particularly well, both were almost complete documents of the band, especially the 2002 compilation, which contained 29 tracks on a double album beginning with their very first hit in 1980, "Love Meeting Love," and even including the best of their RCA years. And then in June 2006, The Definitive Collection was released: 18 tracks, nothing from RCA, and missing five tracks from their first 12 hits. As an introduction to the band, this compilation is good enough, including all the big hits from the mid-'80s, but for anybody who wants to do a little searching — and in the days of the Internet, that isn't difficult — both Level Best and The Ultimate Collection are more complete and of considerably better value.


Formed: 1980 in Isle of Wight, 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 to be placed in...
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The Definitive Collection, Level 42
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