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Last throw of the furry dice,
This review is from: Forever Now (Audio CD)
Level 42's 'last' album (notwithstanding the nightmarish recent comeback), this welcomed back original drummer Phil Gould after a seven-year layoff just in time for the band's swansong. This is quite a brave album in many ways after the rather aimless 'Guaranteed', and shows Level trying to tap into the retro acid jazz/classic jazz-funk sound made popular in the early 90s by Brand New Heavies, Omar, Incognito et al, with predictably mixed results.
Unfortunately, the title track is also the lead-off track here, an irritatingly-jaunty number that doesn't bode well for the rest of the album. But persevere because there are hidden gems - Romance makes a successful left-turn into Marvin Gaye territory with one of Mark King's most heartfelt vocal performances; One In a Million is the classic-single-that-never-was and could have given them a huge hit and is Mike Lindup's finest hour in the band; Billy's Gone is rather a touching and apposite co-write by Mark King and Phil Gould about healing the bonds of friendship with a 24-carat groove in the classic Level style, and The Sunbed Song concludes with a stunning Mahavishnu-style breakdown with Mark King playing a scary guitar solo which had me scanning the sleeve notes to see if Mr McLaughlin had made a rare guest appearance.
In fact, only All Over You brings to the mind the Level of old, with its trademark propulsive groove and staccato horn arrangements. Elsewhere, this album is probably only of interest now to Level completists but represents a flawed though courageous finale to a glittering career.