(5 / 5)
Level 42 may have been at it since the late 1970s, but they really are still a great band live – and as good on record with their newest original stuff (mini-album – six tracks – Sirens).
Thunder thumbs bass legend Mark King still at the front on lead vocals and taking good care of the bottom end, with the fantastic Mike Lindup on keyboards and vocals.
Mike and Mark are the two original members. Drummer Phil Gould and his guitarist brother Boon Gould both left the band in 1987. Boon died in April 2019 at the age of 64.
But today’s line-up is a strong one, with Mark King’s brother Nathan on guitar, Sheffield’s funkiest drummer Pete Ray Biggin on the kit, and a sizzling horn section of Sean Freeman, Nichol Thomson and Dan Carpenter.
They set out on a mammoth 24-date tour in October 2021 through to early November, starting in Liverpool and concluding in Blackpool, calling in to London’s famed Royal Albert on 28th October and most dates will sell out, such is their loyal following.
So. To today’s business: The new bumper 10-disc box set covering the band’s recordings for the Polydor label, released from 1985 to 1989. There’s also a clutch of previously unreleased material and some first time to CD tracks too.
Here we get the albums “A Physical Presence (Part 1)”, “A Physical Presence (Part II)”, “World Machine”, “Running in The Family”, “Staring At The Sun”….
Plus bonus goodies: “7” Singles”, “B-Sides”, “12” Singles & Remixes” (on two discs in this set) and a bunch of “Bonus Tracks”.
That’s a cracking 97 tracks. Christmas come early for L42 fans? The period this set covers is regarded as the bands most commercial period, with big hits from the time including “Running In The Family”, “Lessons In Love” and the stunning ballad “Leaving Me Now”, all featured here.
Compiled in conjunction with Level 42 and band ‘experts’ Paul Wallace, Paul Waller and Simon Carson. Sleeve notes by Record Collector magazine’s Daryl Easlea, who spoke to band members past and present. The booklet offers a full track annotation and rare memorabilia.
Great to hear such tracks as “Turn it On”, “The Chinese Way”, “The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)”, “Physical Presence”, “Something About You”, “Starchild” and “Mr Pink”.
But there’s no fillers here; I honestly could not find anything I’d want to skip among the 97 tracks. It’s a tasty smorgasbord of delights for crate diggers, and for those of us who have followed this band since they started in 1979.
Back then, a bunch of young Isle Of Wight-based jazz funk upstarts who became chart pop stars, and went on to establish a five or six decade career built upon superb songwriting and fabulous musicianship.
This is NOT some has-been vintage nostalgia act in any way, just churning out the hits for the £££$$$. Go see ’em on tour and see/hear for yourselves….I’m not wrong!
By Daniel Curtis
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’