I would personally give Level 42 5/5 for all their albums from their debut to World Machine. By that time, they were more pop-orientated and there's nothing wrong with that when you can produce hit songs such as Something About You and then the album 'deep cuts' are where the brilliance really lies, for me. I've introduced some to this band - who only knew the well-known chart singles - and they weren't big on the band until hearing albums such as this. True Colours, I think, I'd be happy to say is my favourite and it carries on (in a way) in a similar vein to this... gone are the jazz-fusion instrumentals and we are left with a tight and incredibly together musical unit that in my opinion has always been unjustly underrated.
There are tracks on here to make you THINK! I Want Eyes, for example, is still as potent as when I first heard it in the mid 80s. Ok, It has their first sizeable hit in The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) but that fits well as track '2 after the opening, disco-funk of Micro Kid.
Each time I play this album, I am reminded of how brilliant it is and also how wonderful it sounds - this being the original Polydor release. Even if you know only a few songs by them but love 80s music - this album is definitely for you and no two songs sound alike... all superbly crafted and a joy to hear.
Ah, 1983. I was an 18 year old who had only stumbled on Level 42 recently, through recommendations from a work colleague and my Brother playing me "The Pursuit Of Accidents" on his car stereo. I know it may be hard to believe for some people who came to the party late (circa "Running in the Family"), but L42 were quite 'hip' in 1983 (I kid you not!). "The Sun Goes Down" was getting rave reviews and became a top 10 hit, and they managed to engage the services of Earth Wind and Fire legends Larry Dunn and Verdine White for this album. If I remember correctly, the lp didn't receive too good a reaction from L42 fans, who were used to inventive funk/jazz/fusion that had preceded it, by virtue of two brilliantly produced albums by the legendary Mike Vernon. "Standing In The Light" marked a change in direction for the band. Gone was the up front production and complex bass lines from the first two albums (as well as the excellent "Early Tapes"), replaced with a more laid back approach, the bass being pushed a bit further back in the mix and all round having a less direct feel. The songs themselves were not necessarily the floor fillers that had come before ("The Sun Goes Down" and "Micro Kid" notwithstanding). However, I have grown to love this album and it is quite possibly the one I come back to the most (and I have them all). I was a little irked at the production at the time, but I've grown to like it too, and think that it does actually work. Lyrically aside, each song on this album is just superb. "The Sun Goes Down", I think, is debately L42's best single outing, such a fantastic groove and a very cool song that has stood the test of time. "Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind" is also a wonderful track, slightly clunky lyrically, but such a great hook of a chorus. "Dance On Heavy Weather" contains one of the best drum roll intos that you will hear, courtesy of Philip Gould. Side two has no real "typical" L42 song at all. "A Pharoah's Dream" enlists the sax talents of EWF's Andrew Woolfolk (it's not what you know, it's WHO you know, lol). "I Want Eyes" is a beautiful ballad that has some nice keyboard work from Mike Lindup, who lends his own writing to the socially aware "People". The album ends with my favourite track "The Machine Stops". Again, forget the lyrics, just feel the groove of the track, so infectious, ending with a jazz style riff with what sounds like a trumpet but is presumably keyboard effects. I like this album, a lot. I was fairly lukewarm towards it at 18, but at 51, I've warmed to it. I'm off to see them for the umpteenth time in October and I can lay the bets that the only song that will be played from the album will be "The Sun Goes Down". "The Machine Stops" has been played live more recently and it would be great to hear "Dance On Heavy Weather", not heard by this writer since the Queensway Hall in Dunstable in 1983 to promote this very album. Ah, I'm getting misty eyed! What a live band L42 were. We miss you messrs Gould.
'Standing In The Light' was a pivotal album for Level 42 back in 1983. After years of consistently denting the lower reaches of the singles charts with tracks like 'Love Games' and 'Turn It On', with 'The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up' they landed their first major hit. Slightly less the old Level 42 and a bit more mainstream commercial, 'The Sun Goes Down' was more in tune with what was going down on U.K. dance floors at the time. The album did not however have an obvious follow-up on it and neither 'Micro-Kid' (average) nor 'Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind' (a decent slower groove) did anywhere near as well as singles.
'Standing In The Light' is a consistent set though. For the most part the songs on offer here hark back to the bands earlier style but with more of an emphasis on vocals. This does not always work to the bands advantage however as Mark Kings voice is pretty monotone and this becomes increasingly apparent the longer the album goes on. 'A Pharoah's Dream (Of Endless Time)' is therefore even more of a welcome return to the bands roots. King does sing on the track but it is basically a bass and guitar led spacey fusion jam that features a nagging bass line to die for and the bands trademark soaring backing vocals.
'People' is a nice mid-tempo jolter with great lyrics, 'Dance On Heavy Weather' takes the groove more towards rock and is all synths and harmony vocals and 'The Machine Stops' features some of Mr Kings awesome quick fire bubbling bass playing.
This is one of the greats in the Level 42 album collection, although they have never made an album I didn't like! Great known tracks such as Micro Kid, Sun Goes Down & Out Of Sight Out Of Mind (one of my fav Level songs), but also songs like I Want Eyes and the title track Standing In The Light make the album a great listen, varied and wonderfully written. Full of the fantastic musicianship that makes Level 42 different from any other band at that time or since. Great, great album, and for me, the best band in the world.
I certainly think so! I bought the LP back in 1982, and I still have it. When I pulled it out recently the quality of the LP was quite poor hence the purchase of the CD. It is so good, the lyrics sung by Mark King and Mike Lindup are of course written by Phil Gould, the drummer and they are exquisite and full of meaning! Reminding me of my college days! Happy days! Best songs: A Pharoah's dream, I want eyes, Out of sight & out of mind and Standing in the Light - brilliant. Production is still very good and consistent (the CD was printed in 1993)and plays beautifully through my Cyrus system and Monitor Audio speakers. If you like Level 42, then this is a must!