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Running in the Hit Single machine........
on 4 June 2007
I was a bit surprised at the other reveiw here, stating that this was Level 42 at their best.
I disagree. Its certainly Level 42 at their most succesful, and at their peak of their fame, but in reality, Running In The Family, was a concerted effort to build on what had gone before and commercialise it in order to crank out as many hit singles as possible.
Level 42 had acheived limited single chart success from their first album, and had had at least one top thirty hit from each successive album, but it wasn't until Something About You, Leaving me Now and the excellent World Machine album that contained them, that top ten hits came.
'Family' was a result of that success, where the sound of Something About You was deliberately used as a basis for an all out assault on the charts in order to push Level 42 to higher popularity, probably driven by record company impetus.
Five big hit singles, but the result?
The band split up the year after, when Phil and Boon couldn't stand the new high profile and bailed out.
Level 42 were never the same again; the sound changed with next years Staring At The Sun, and went on to change in future years, with the rather patchy Guaranteed.
Running In The Family contains some formulaic pop then, but done in a Level 42 kind of way, which makes it listenable. It doesn't match their earlier work in terms of musicianship, as the players are 'doing their pop thing' and they are clearly not being stretched.
Mark King's bass is hardly heard, almost no slaps etc. There is more guitar work from Boon than before which is great, butthe result is a polished slice of pop, no more, no less.
Some of the old Level 42 surfaces on the tracks 'Sleepwalkers', the best thing on the album, and Fashion Fever comes a close second, with its funky groove.
But Level 42 at its height?
If you want to hear this band at its peak, buy True Colours, where the range and style of the songs is wide, and the lyrics are thought provoking.
World machine is also a good buy, although this was the start of the change to commercialism, there are still 'old Level 42' vibes throughout.
I remember 1987 well, when many of the hard core old skool Level 42 fans abandoned Level 42 because they had 'sold out' and moved away from their sound.
It hardly seems to matter now; Level 42 are back with us with a new album, which is excellent, and their live gigs continue to be great, but this album is an inoffensive enough listen, and will make you want to hear more, but Level 42 are much much more than Running In the Family.