Group: Level 42.
Personnel: Mark King, bass, vocals; Phil Gould, drums; Mike Lindup, keyboards, vocals; Boon Gould, guitar.
History: Level 42 was formed in early 1980 in Britain when King and brothers Phil and Boon Gould, inspired by the jazz-funk-rock fusion of Miles Davis, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin and Herbie Hancock, hooked up with Lindup. The group's first single, "Love Meeting Love" (on the independent Elite label), hit the British dance charts and the group was signed by Polydor. The band's debut album, "Level 42," was a Top 20 hit in Britain and the Netherlands. Since then, the group has released six more albums (three in the U.S.) and the band's latest single, "Something About You" (from the recent album "World Machine"), looks as if it will become a Top 10 hit here. Immensely popular in Europe, Level 42 has been voted best British group for three years running by Blues and Soul magazine, while the DJ Club of Great Britain has chosen the band as the best British funk group for the last two years.
Sound: On a purely technical level, it would be hard to find a group more proficient at modern jazz-funk fusion. This is a group of immaculate players, easily moving through intricate and subtle rhythmic grooves. Level 42 features advanced levels of songwriting too: There's something infectious and familiar about "Something About You," which recalls the best of Gamble & Huff's pop-soul productions--where did they get that melody? Mark King's vocals tend to be efficient, though a tad lackluster. But even if funk's emotional impulsiveness tends to be smoothed over and flattened out by the high-gloss musicianship, Level 42's sleek, sophisticated and rhythmically propulsive sound finds its own good foot-ing in the urban jungle.
Shows: The Roxy, Friday and Saturday, Coach House, next Sunday.