Level 42 – The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 1 (1980-1984) Review

31 01 2021

Level 42 are releasing a 10 CD set titled The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 1 (1980-1984), that contains all the Level 42 studio albums from that era plus 5 further discs containing B-Sides, 7” Mixes, remixes and rare tracks.

The collection was compiled in conjunction with Level 42 and band experts Paul Wallace, Paul Waller and Simon Carson. The sleeve notes are provided by Record Collector’s Daryl Easlea who has spoken to band members current and past. The booklet contains a full track annotation and pictures of rare memorabilia.

The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 1 opens with the band’s debut studio album from 1981, including singles Turn It On, Love Games and Starchild plus key album tracks such as Almost There with its tight rhythm guitar from the late Boon Gould. These early Level 42 albums also feature strong keyboard, synth and programming contributions from Wally Badarou (Robert Palmer / Power Station).

The second disc is The Early Tapes aka Strategy, which contains material recorded in 1980 and features a less polished, more raw production. Love Meeting Love evokes the memories of 80s bars and clubs and the jazz-funk of this era. Autumn (Paradise Is Free) recalls the work of mid-70s Stanley Clarke. One of the album’s many instrumentals 88 remained in the band’s live set for years to come, and is a highlight of their early catalogue.

The Pursuit Of Accidents was the bands third album, released in 1982. Like the first album, this was produced by Mike Vernon (Fleetwood Mac / Roachford / Eric Clapton) and saw Level 42 continuing to evolve its sound, attracting a more pop loving audience.

Singles Weave Your Spell, Are You Hearing (What I Hear)? and the band’s first top 30 hit (and one of their finest singles) The Chinese Way are included, along with the key album track Eyes Waterfalling, with is under-pinned by some of Phil Gould’s finest percussion work.

The next two discs feature my two favourite Level 42 albums. First up is Standing In The Light from 1983. The album perfectly captures the colourful pop / soul sound of this part of the 80s. Standing In The Light was produced by Earth, Wind & Fire’s Larry Dunn & Verdine White and includes the singles Micro Kid, Out of Sight, Out of Mind and the bands first top 10 hit The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) as well as the atmospheric I Want Eyes. Standing In The Light is one of the early eighties finest pop releases.

The final studio album in this set is True Colours from 1984. Produced by Ken Scott (David Bowie / Supertramp), this was a harder edged, more percussive sounding release. True Colours features two of my favourite Level 42 singles, The Chant Has Begun and Hot Water. Kouyate is a perfect example of the more powerful drum-led arrangements that decorate True Colours.

The remaining discs pull together bonus tracks, live cuts and remixes. I prefer having the albums in their original format and tracklisting, with bonus tracks presented separately, to mirror the experience of listening to the music as it was fist released.

Disc Six collects the bands 7” Singles, and includes a first CD release of the 7″ version of Level 42’s debut single Love Meeting Love. Disc Seven collects the B Sides.

The 8 and 9th discs consist of extended mixes and rarities. Highlights include a remix I had not heard before, by another of my favourite 80s dance acts, the I-Level remix of Micro Kid and on of my favourite extended mixes, the lively Hot Water (Mastermix).

Hot Water

The 10th and final disc contains bonus tracks. Along with lots of live tracks recorded at Regal Theatre, Hitchin (a venue long since demolished), the disc also includes the powerful Love Games (U.S. Remix).

The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 1 (1980-1984) is a perfect opportunity to collect all the early albums and key single tracks from Level 42 at a good price, and provides a musical snapshot of the jazz-funk, soul and pop scene of the early 1980s.

Buy Level 42 The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 1 (1980-1984) from Amazon

Disc One: Level 42

Turn It On
“43”
Why Are You Leaving?
Almost There
Heathrow
Love Games
Dune Tune
Starchild

Disc Two: The Early Tapes

Sandstorm
Love Meeting Love
Theme To Margaret
Autumn (Paradise Is Free)
Wings Of Love
Woman
Mr. Pink
88

Disc Three: The Pursuit Of Accidents

Weave Your Spell
The Pursuit Of Accidents
Last Chance
Are You Hearing (What I Hear)?
You Can’t Blame Louis
Eyes Waterfalling (The Prodigy)
Shapeshifter
The Chinese Way

Disc Four: Standing In The Light

Micro Kid
The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)
Out Of Sight Out Of Mind
Dance On Heavy Weather
A Pharaoh’s Dream (Of Endless Time)
Standing In The Light
I Want Eyes
People
The Machine Stops

Disc Five: True Colours

The Chant Has Begun
Kansas City Milkman
Seven Days
Hot Water
A Floating Life
True Believers
My Hero
Kouyate
Hours By The Window

Disc Six: 7” Singles

Love Meeting Love – (7ʺ Version) (First Time On CD)
(Flying On The) Wings Of Love (U.S. Mix – 7ʺ Edit)
Love Games (7ʺ Version)
Turn It On (7ʺ Version)
Starchild (7ʺ Remix)
Are You Hearing (What I Hear)? (7ʺ Version)
Weave Your Spell (7ʺ Remix)
The Chinese Way (7ʺ Version)
Out Of Sight Out Of Mind (7ʺ Version)
The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) (7ʺ Version)
Micro Kid (7ʺ Version)
Hot Water (7ʺ Version)
The Chant Has Begun (7ʺ Edit)

Disc Seven: B Sides

Instrumental Love
Forty-Two
Beezer One
Foundation And Empire (Parts 1 & 2)
The Return Of The Handsome Rugged Man
Dune Tune (Live)
Love Games (Live)
88 (Live)
You Can’t Blame Louis (Remix – 7ʺ Version) (First Time On CD)
Can’t Walk You Home (7ʺ Version)
Can’t Walk You Home
Turn It On (Live)
Almost There (Edited Version)

Disc Eight: 12” Singles & Rarities

(Flying On The) Wings Of Love (U.S. Mix)
(Flying On The) Wings Of Love (Remix ’81)
Love Games (Full Length Version)
Turn It On (Full Length Version)
Starchild (Remix – Long Version)
Are You Hearing (What I Hear)? – (Extended Version)
Weave Your Spell (Extended Version)
The Chinese Way (Extended Version)
Out Of Sight Out Of Mind – (Extended Version)
You Can’t Blame Louis (Extended Remix)
The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) (Extended Version)

Disc Nine: 12” Singles

Micro Kid (Extended Version) (First Time On CD)
Micro Kid (I-Level Remix)
The Chinese Way (New York Remix)
The Chinese Way (Dub)
Hot Water (Mastermix)
Standing In The Light (Extended Version)
Micro Kid (Specially Remixed Version)
Micro Kid (Dub Version)
The Chant Has Begun (Power Mix)
The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) (Upfront Mix)

Disc Ten: Bonus Tracks

Love Games (U.S. Remix)
Sandstorm (Live May 1982)
Mr. Pink (Live May 1982)
It’s A Happening
The Chinese Way (Dub – Edit) (First Time On CD)
Last Chance (Extended Version)
Heathrow (Live At Regal Theatre, Hitchin)
Turn It On (Live At Regal Theatre, Hitchin)
Eyes Waterfalling (The Prodigy) (Live At Regal Theatre, Hitchin)
The Pursuit Of Accidents (Live At Regal Theatre, Hitchin)
Are You Hearing (What I Hear)? (Live At Regal Theatre, Hitchin)
Standing In The Light (7ʺ Version)
Goodbye Ray Schmidt-Volk

Buy Level 42 The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 1 (1980-1984) from Amazon





I-Level – albums available digitally for the first time

11 05 2019

I-Level were a 1980’s British Funk/Dance band who released two albums and eight singles between 1982 and 1985.

The trio had UK club hits with Minefield and Give Me from their first album, and are also remembered for the rare groove classic In The Sand from their second and final album Shake.

I-Level were Sam Jones on vocals, Joe Dworniak on bass & Duncan Bridgeman on keyboards. Jo & Duncan also appeared on John Foxx’s stunning 1981 album The Garden.

In early 2019 Give Me [U.S. Remix] featured on Gary Crowley’s Lost 80s compilation album, and shortly afterwards the two I-Level studio albums were released digitally for the first time. The albums are not available on CD but can be streamed and purchased via amazon (links below).

Download I-Level (1983) and Shake (1985) from Amazon.

The first I-Level album was a huge part of the soundtrack to my summer of 1982. I was a huge fan of the 12″ mix of single Teacher (sadly not included on this reissue), and I bought the album on vinyl.

There are so many great pop / dance tracks on the I-Level album. From the horn topped Minefield, with its wonderful jazz-funk bassline and the slow-burning ballad Heart Aglow, to the percussive Simmons-drum driven pop of Stone Heart, the debut I-Level album is 80s pop at its very best.

I love the arrangements on the first album, and Sam Jones soulful, often double-tracked vocals work so well with the electronic pop songs.

1985’s Shake has dated a little more than the debut, due to a heavy use of mid-80s sampling technology, but In The River and the more down-tempo In The Sand are classic pop singles, and worth investigating if you love eighties music.

So if you are a fan of early to mid-eighties pop, or are a fan of Level 42 or Seal, I can recommend the two I-Level albums.

Download I-Level (1983) and Shake (1985) from Amazon.

Follow I-Level on twitter @iLevelMusic.








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