Thursday, April 21, 2011

Level 42 -- "Lessons in Love"

Lessons In Love - Lessons In Love

(Debuted April 4, 1987, Peaked #12, 18 Weeks on the Chart)

While doing some background research on this song, I came across this really great comment from the AllMusic page for the album/CD Running in the Family: "the whole project reeks of 1987." That's close to what I've said about a couple of other songs this week. It's a product of its times...when something tries to sound "with it" or "modern," it risks becoming dated when the times change. I know what seems like 1987 because I was around then, and others who were there understand when I mention the era. However, it's hard for me to explain 1987 to my young daughter because she doesn't have that frame of reference.

But I'm getting sidetracked, because I actually like "Lessons in Love" as a song. It would be Level 42's biggest hit in their native U.K., but fell short of the Top 10 showing that their 1986 hit "Something About You" reached in the U.S. And even though it reached a healthy #12 peak on the Billboard pop chart, it's been largely forgotten.

Mark King was the singer and bassist, as well as one of the co-writers of "Lessons in Love." His nimble fingers helped popularize a "slap and pop" bass playing style that is on display in the song. While that was a big part of the band's jazz/funk roots, their long-time fans were beginning to feel that they were abandoning the sound for catchy hooks and pop craftmanship at that point. The success wasn't as fleeting as one might expect; brothers Boon and Phil Gould left the band late in '87, after an exhausting tour schedule. Level 42 still continued to hit at home through their first breakup in 1994, but "Lessons in Love" would be their final American Top 40 hit.



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