Level 42

From Academic Kids

Level 42 are an English pop band who throughout the 1980s had a number of hits in the UK and around the world. The band gained fame for its tight musicianship, especially that of bassist/vocalist Mark King.

The founding band members were:

  • Mark King - Vocals/Bass.
  • Mike Lindup - Keyboards/Vocals.
  • Boon Gould - Guitars.
  • Phil Gould - Drums.

Level 42 were formed in 1980 as a Jazz-Funk fusion band. Initially they were signed to a small independent record label (Elite Records) after being seen jamming together. Shortly after they released the single Love Meeting Love on Elite they came to the attention of Polydor records and signed to them. In 1981 they released Love Games, a top-40 hit. They then cut their critically acclaimed debut album, Level 42. This became an immediate success throughout Europe.

The following year, a second album The Pursuit of Accidents was made, and singles from the album, first Weave Your Spell and then The Chinese Way were released, both charting, the latter in particular rising high in the charts and gaining the band a much wider audience than hitherto. Their album went on to become a huge seller. In between Polydor released The early tapes recorded in the early days of the band when they were signed to the Elite label. A fourth album Standing in the Light generated their first top ten hit in the UK in 1983, The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up). The quartet followed that with True Colours in 1984. That same year, Mark King pursued solo projects.

The next album, World Machine, was released in 1985. Singles from this, Something About You, and Leaving Me Now were also top ten hits, followed by another, Lessons in Love. By this time the band was heading away from its original jazz-funk sound and towards a much more mainstream pop sound. The band's 1987 album Running in the Family although selling well, cemented this musical direction.

Both Phil and Boon left the group, unhappy with the increasingly 'pop' direction, and exhausted from touring. As a result, Mark King recruited Gary Husband and Steve Topping to fill their places. In addition, guitarist Alan Murphy joined, formerly of Go West. A new album Staring at the Sun, was released in 1988. The following year Alan died from an AIDS related illness, and the band took some time off. At this time a greatest hits compilation was released. During the early 1990s, the group tried to blend more of their earlier influences, such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, into their sound by asking master musician Allan Holdsworth to provide some stunning guitar work for the album 'Guaranteed'. Their fans did not like this direction, and the pop music scene in the UK had moved in a different direction. The album did not sell well despite being regarded by some as Level 42's most musically sophisticated work to date.

Allan then left the band, to be replaced by Jakko Jaczyk. Level 42 released one final album of new material, Forever Now, marked by the return of Phil Gould as studio drummer.

King revived the group as a touring unit in 2002. The current lineup consists of bassist King, drummer Husband, Nathan King on guitars and vocals, Lyndon Connah on keys and vocals, and Sean Freeman on sax and vocals.


The origin of the band's name has been variously described as being inspired by a sign in a lift in a very tall building in the US; the top level of the biggest car-park in the world, in Japan; the floor on which Jonathan Pryce lives in the film Brazil; or after Tower 42 (also known as NatWest Tower) a tall building in the City of London. In truth the band was originally called simply 42 after the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and the word Level was added to make the name more distinctive.

Discography of Albums

  • Level 42 (1981)
  • Strategy/The Early Tapes (1982)
  • The Pursuit of Accidents (1983)
  • Standing in the Light (1983)
  • True Colours (1984)
  • A Physical Presence (Live) (1985)
  • World Machine (1985)
  • Running In The Family (1987)
  • Staring At The Sun (1988)
  • Level Best (1989) (greatest hits compilation)
  • Guaranteed (1991)
  • On The Level (1991) (compilation)
  • The Remixes (1992) (compilation)
  • On A Level (1993) (compilation)
  • Lessons In Love - Best (1993) (compilation)
  • Forever Now (1994)
  • To Be With You Again (1995) (compilation)
  • Turn It On (1996) (compilation)
  • Live At Wembley 1989 (1996) (Live)
  • The Master Series (1996) (compilation)

External links



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