Level 42 – The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 2 (1985-1989) boxset review

1 07 2021

Level 42 are releasing a 10 CD set titled The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 2 (1985-1989), that contains all the Level 42 albums from that era plus further discs containing B-Sides, 7” mixes, remixes and rare tracks.

Regarded as the bands most commercial period, this collection features all the hits from the era including Running in the Family, Lessons in Love and Leaving Me Now.

Discs 6 -10 contain all the B-Sides, 7” mixes, remixes and rare versions from 1985-1989. Level 42 – The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 2 was compiled in conjunction with Level 42 and band experts Paul Wallace, Paul Waller and Simon Carson.

The comprehensive sleeve notes were written by Record Collectors Daryl Easlea who has spoken to band members current and past.

The collection kicks off with the 1985 live album A Physical Presence on the first two discs. I spent my teenage years in Woolwich, but had moved away and so missed this tour, that included a show at The Coronet in Woolwich, one of the gigs featured on this album, along with tracks recorded at The Hexagon (Reading) and Goldiggers in Chippenham.

A Physical Presence captures the band at their jazz-funk peak, before the more mainstream success that followed with the next few albums. Highlights include a crowd-participating Turn It On and the flawless second disc, with six killer tracks in a row, including a powerful version of Hot Water.

World Machine saw the band start to move away from their signature style, towards a more electronic pop sound. Known for the massive hit singles – Something About You (a truly great pop song) and Leaving Me Now, other highlights include the sublime arrangement of the title track, the percussive Coup D’etat and the Rhodes driven Lying Still, with some wonderful Steely Dan sounding harmonies.

Disc four contains the Running In The Family album from 1987. The album opens with a staple of 80s nostalgia radio stations, Lessons In Love, which is simply one of the band’s finest singles. There is a real consistency in the song-writing and performances on this album, resulting in 5 of the 8 album tracks being released as singles.

“All the dreams that we were building
We never fulfilled them”

Children Say has a lovely refrain and other highlights include It’s Over, the band’s final UK Top 10 hit and album closer Freedom Someday. Brothers Phil and Boon Gould left the band after the release of Running In The Family.

Guitarist Alan Murphy (Kate Bush / Go West) and drummer Gary Husband joined for Staring at the Sun, the last studio album in this collection, which appears on disc five.

Heaven in My Hands was the biggest hit from the album, peaking at No12 in the UK single charts. I love Alan Murphy’s guitar style, particularly from his work with Kate Bush as well as his strong contributions to this album, sadly his only appearance with the band, as he died in 1989. Sting guitarist Dominic Miller also features on the album.

Staring at the Sun feels very different from earlier Level 42 albums, with a shift towards a more pop/rock sound. Key tracks include the top 30 single Take A Look (what a chorus, by the way), the addictive Silence and the rare later period instrumental Gresham Blues.

The final five discs round up b sides, 7″ and 12″ mixes plus live tracks from the period. My personal highlights from these tracks include one of my favourite 80s 12″ mixes, Something About You (Sisa Mix), World Machine (Shep Pettibone Remix), the very much of it’s time, drum-less Heaven In My Hands (Guitarpella Mix), the surprisingly effective “funky drummer” take of Take A Look (Remix) and the 2nd version of Starchild (Remix) on disc 9, that clocks in at nearly 8 minutes.

The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 2 (1985-1989) is a great way to collect the Level 42 albums from the most commercially successful period of the bands career, and is an 80s music fans dream.

Buy Level 42 – The Complete Polydor Years Volume Two on Amazon

Disc One: A Physical Presence (Part 1)

  1. Almost There
  2. Turn It On
  3. Mr. Pink
  4. Eyes Waterfalling
  5. Kansas City Milkman
  6. Follow Me
  7. Foundation And Empire

Disc Two: A Physical Presence (Part 2)

  1. The Chant Has Begun
  2. The Chinese Way
  3. The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)
  4. Hot Water
  5. Love Games
  6. 88

Disc Three: World Machine

  1. World Machine
  2. Physical Presence
  3. Something About You
  4. Leaving Me Now
  5. I Sleep On My Heart
  6. It’s Not The Same For Us
  7. Dream Crazy
  8. Good Man In A Storm
  9. Coup D’etat
  10. Lying Still

Disc Four: Running In The Family

  1. Lessons In Love
  2. Children Say
  3. Running In The Family
  4. It’s Over
  5. To Be With You Again
  6. Two Solitudes (Everyone’s Love In The Air)
  7. Fashion Fever
  8. The Sleepwalkers
  9. Freedom Someday

Disc Five: Staring At The Sun

  1. Heaven In My Hands
  2. I Don’t Know Why
  3. Take A Look
  4. Over There
  5. Silence
  6. Tracie
  7. Staring At The Sun
  8. Two Hearts Collide
  9. Man
  10. Gresham Blues

Disc Six: 7” Singles

  1. Follow Me – Live – 7ʺ Remix
  2. Something About You – 7ʺ Version
  3. Leaving Me Now – 7ʺ Remix
  4. Running In The Family – 7ʺ Version
  5. To Be With You Again -7ʺ Version
  6. It’s Over – 7ʺ Remix
  7. Children Say – 7ʺ Remix
  8. Heaven In My Hands – 7ʺ Version
  9. Tracie – 7ʺ Version
  10. Take Care Of Yourself – 7ʺ Version

Disc Seven: B Sides

  1. Coup D’état – Version
  2. Something About You – U.S. Remix – Edit
  3. Micro Kid – Live – Full Length Version
  4. It’s Over – Instrumental
  5. Physical Presence – Live
  6. Starchild – Remix
  7. Three Words
  8. Silence – Live At The NEC Birmingham
  9. Man – Live At The NEC Birmingham

Disc Eight: 12” Singles & Remixes

  1. Something About You – Sisa Mix
  2. I Sleep On My Heart – Remix
  3. Lessons In Love – Extended Version
  4. Something About You – Shep Pettibone Remix
  5. Something About You – Instrumental
  6. World Machine – Shep Pettibone Remix
  7. World Machine – Dub
  8. Lessons In Love – Shep Pettibone Remix
  9. Lessons In Love – Dub Mix
  10. To Be With You Again – A.D.S.C. Mix
  11. To Be With You Again – Dub

Disc Nine: 12” Singles & Remixes

  1. It’s Over – Extended Remix
  2. Running In The Family – Dave ‘O’ Remix
  3. Children Say – Extended Remix
  4. Starchild – Remix
  5. Heaven In My Hands – Extended Version
  6. Heaven In My Hands – US Remix
  7. Take A Look – Extended Mix
  8. Tracie – Extended Mix
  9. Tracie – US Remix
  10. Take Care Of Yourself – Extended Version
  11. Take Care Of Yourself – Remix
  12. Starchild – Remix

Disc Ten: Bonus Tracks

  1. World Machine – Live Hammersmith Odeon 1985
  2. Leaving Me Now – Live Hammersmith Odeon 1985
  3. Something About You – Live Hammersmith Odeon 1985
  4. The Platinum Edition Megamix
  5. Lessons In Love – Shep’s Final Mix
  6. Running In The Family – HTL Dub
  7. Children Say – Slap Bass Mix
  8. Heaven In My Hands – Guitarpella Mix
  9. Take A Look – Remix
  10. Two Hearts Collide – 7ʺ Remix
  11. Two Hearts Collide – Extended Remix
  12. Take Care Of Yourself – Radio Edit
  13. Heaven In My Hands – Original Album Mix

Buy Level 42 – The Complete Polydor Years Volume Two on Amazon

Buy the previous box-set – Level 42 – The Complete Polydor Years: Volume 1 (1980-1984) from Amazon





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








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