Kenny Rogers compilations tend to drift in and out of print, yet in a sense it doesn't matter much, because most featured most of the big hits. However, very few contained them all and, as of 2004, the only collection in print that contained all his big hits, from the First Edition through the mid-'80s, was 1999's four-disc box set Through the Years, which was too exhaustive for all but dedicated Rogers fans. So, there was a need for a new, relatively concise collection that featured all the hits; hence Capitol's 42 Ultimate Hits, a double-disc set that spans Kenny's entire career, from the First Edition to two new tracks, including a duet with Whitney Duncan.
The Ultimate Collection is an exhaustive double-disc + bonus CD anthology that is ideal for those who want all of Level 42's key moments ("The Sun Goes Down," "Lessons in Love," "Starchild," "Something About You," "Love Meeting Love"), in addition to select album material. Released in 2002 by Polydor in the U.K., it boasts digitally remastered sound and sells for the price of a single disc – so, although it contains more than what most people in search of a good introduction want, it might be preferable to Level Best, the excellent single-disc compilation released over a decade prior. This easily trumps Turn It On, since it features no studio scraps and focuses on the band's best work.
Level 42 was steadily perfecting and evolving their dance/pop, funk, and rock mix during the '80s, and when they hit the big time, the label began reissuing their earlier, less successful material. It's hard to understand why this didn't do as well as later albums like World Machine, Running in the Family, and Staring at the Sun, although the obvious reason would be that no singles ever broke that compared with the ones from those releases. But it was just as well produced, the songs were almost as cutely performed, and the arrangements are very similar.
Polydor's Level Best is a thorough, successful overview of the smooth, jazzy British sophisti-pop outfit, containing all of their biggest hits and best material, including the sublime "Something About You." At 18 tracks, it may run a little long, but it still is as comprehensive a summary of Level 42's career as could be hoped.
Recorded on the final night of their tour at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2003, this special 16 track live package from the Jazz-funk legends Level 42 is packed with classics. The band are at their brilliant best performing hits including 'Lessons in Love' and 'Something About You' that have underlined the reasons why the group have always been at the very top level of modern day music.
Manchester band whose blend of smooth jazz, sophisticated pop, and funk topped the British charts during the 1980s and '90s. At the beginning of their career, Level 42 was squarely a jazz-funk fusion band, contemporaries of fellow Brit funk groups like Atmosfear, Light of the World, Incognito, and Beggar & Co. By the end of the '80s, however, the band – whose music was instantly recognizable from Mark King's thumb-slap bass technique and associate member Wally Badarou's synthesizer flourishes – had crossed over to the point where they were often classified as sophisti-pop and dance-rock, equally likely to be placed in the context of Sade and the Style Council as any group that made polished, upbeat, danceable pop/rock.