Level 42 est un groupe de rock britannique formé dans les années 1980.
Le groupe a connu des succès avec des morceaux comme Love Games en 1981, Something About You en 1984 ou Lessons In Love en 1986.
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LEVEL 42 was formed in early 1980. The Gould brothers, drummer Phil and guitarist Boon, together with bassist Mark King all came from the Isle of Wight and had played together in various bands during their teenage years. In late 1979 Phil introduced Mark to keyboard player Mike Lindup, a soul mate he had met while studying at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Mike was studying piano but had taken a course in percussion and he and Phil found that they shared a clutch of musical heroes – such as Miles Davis, John McLaughlin, Keith Jarrett and Jan Hammer. Mark was working in London, but would play regularly with them in loose rehearsal sessions and the arrival of Boon, who had previously traveled with Mark to the states in an ill-fated attempt to be « overnight successes », was the final piece in the musical jigsaw.
In May 1980 the head of a small independent label, (Andy Sojka), saw them jamming together and was impressed enough to offer them a recording deal. He signed the band to his Elite Records and recorded and released their debut single « Love Meeting Love » that July. The record had started life as an instrumental but became the vehicle for LEVEL 42 finding their voice. « Love Meeting Love » shot into the Funk/Disco charts in the UK and brought the band to the attention of Polydor Records. A follow-up single was released at the end of 1980 with the band signed direct to Polydor. « (Flying On The) Wings Of Love » again charted and LEVEL 42’s live shows displayed a controlled energy and uninhibited inventiveness that drew commendation from every critic who saw them.
During the first part of 1981 the band’s appearances grew even more widespread and in the late spring Polydor put them together with producer Mike Vernon. The outcome of this initial collaboration was the top 40 single « Love Games », which has since become a classic LEVEL 42 recording throughout Europe. During June and July the team got together again, this time to record their debut album; « Level 42 ». Its release in the late summer was greeted with unanimous praise and within two weeks it had climbed into the Top 20 national charts. Further successes followed in Europe where, after a ten date tour of Germany and Holland, the album and single lodged them in the Top 5 of the Dutch Charts and resulted in the band receiving their first award in the form of a gold album.
Mike Lindup, Gould brothers, and Mark King
They returned to Britain, overwhelmed by the spontaneous acclaim of European audiences and with a new belief in their abilities. They completed 1981 and started 1982 with an extensive five week tour of Holland.
Work began on a second album in January 1982 but was halted when, due to public demand, March saw the release of « The Early Tapes July/August 1980 » – material the band had recorded during their days with Elite Records. Once again the album charted immediately and primarily in response to the interest they had created in Germany, signaled the start of an extensive European Tour which was to last for over two months and culminate in two sell-out concerts at Hammersmith Odeon in London.
Early summer saw the band’s reunion with producer Mike Vernon and by late July « The Pursuit Of Accidents » album was completed and preparations were underway for simultaneous UK and European releases of the album during early September coupled with a most ambitious and exhausting tour lasting three months and taking in the UK, France, Switzerland, Austria, Holland, Belgium and Germany.
On completion of « Pursuit Of Accidents » and prior to the autumn tour, the band managed a well earned holiday period of three weeks – just enough time for Mark to get married, Phil to get hooked on windsurfing and Boon and Mike to disappear – temporarily of course!
Release of the third Polydor LP in the UK brought an immediate reaction – « The Pursuit of Accidents » stubbornly refused to stumble at any obstacle and surged into the Top 20 in double quick time. The single taken from the LP « Weave Your Spell » also charted, whilst the band undertook a UK mini-tour and then stormed Europe with an extensive tour, their debut gig in Paris being a particular triumph!
LEVEL 42’s return to the UK for their massive November tour saw sell- out audiences throughout and when a remixed version of « The Chinese Way » was issued in January 1983, it raced towards the top twenty with gratifying ease.
During the German part of LEVEL 42’s European tour at the end of 1982, the band was spotted by Earth, Wind and Fire members Larry Dunn and Verdine White, who were so excited by the group that they asked if they could produce the next album. So, in March, with « The Chinese Way » still high in the UK charts and several major TV shows under their belts (including a prestigious half hour special on BBC2’s « Sight And Sound In Concert » series) LEVEL 42 flew off to Los Angeles to begin recording their fourth Polydor album.
In April they released « Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind », one of the first tracks from their sessions with Larry and Verdine. This also charted in the UK whilst the band carried on working enthusiastically in LA’s noted Complex Studio.
By May, when « Standing In The Light » had been laid down on tape, requiring only some final mixing, the band played their first American concert as British contemporary music representatives in the « Britain Salutes New York » festival. Their show at the famous Bottom Line Club won them the respect of New York’s elite.
Returning to the UK, Mark, Phil, Boon and Mike took the chance of a short break before flying in mid-July to appear at the world famous Montreux Jazz Festival, after which there commenced an intense rehearsal period in preparation for the « 1983-1984 World Tour ».
The July release of « The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) » single achieved their first Top 10 entry in the UK together with an immediate chart entry to No 9 with the LP « Standing In The Light » which subsequently lodged itself in the Top Ten for four weeks. As both single and album climbed the charts, the 1983 section of the « World Tour » got underway and during late August commenced with six weeks in Britain and followed with an extensive tour of Europe which took in Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
On returning to the UK in mid-December the band went straight into a Christmas mini-tour which ended on 22nd December and saw them disappear faster than a speeding bullet to their families for a peaceful Christmas Holiday.
The new year saw Mark taking some time off from LEVEL 42 to record his debut solo LP « Influences » which was released in the summer of ’84. However, this didn’t mean that the band were resting their laurels; August 1984 saw the release of their new single « Hot Water » which was a top ten smash and was taken from a brand new LP entitled « True Colours », which was released in October. Another single from the LP, « The Chant Has Begun », also charted.
The beginning of 1985 saw the band playing more live dates culminating in a live LP in June called « A Physical Presence », which encapsulated the band’s five year career. One of LEVEL 42’s greatest strengths is their live performances and the fans keep coming back for more as the band consistently sell out their tours. The « live » LP caught them in the act and transferred their spirited performance onto vinyl.
A few months later, LEVEL 42 came out of the studio with the « World Machine » album, preceded by a single from it – « Something About You », in September. Another single « Leaving Me Now » was taken from the LP – both were top 10 hits and the « World Machine » album has now sold over three million copies worldwide !
The Band was also voted Best Funk Act by British DJs for the second consecutive year.
After a well-deserved rest at the beginning of the year, and after playing their debut shows in Ireland, the boys started to write some new material for their follow up LP to « World Machine » and in April they released a brand new single entitled « Lessons In Love ».
They then embarked on a lengthy US tour whilst « Something About You » was shooting up the American charts. They finished 1986 by playing four sell out nights at Wembley Arena in December – a triumphant way to end the year !
February 1987 saw the band in the top ten once again with their new single « Running In The Family » and their new LP of the same name. The album achieved platinum status ONE WEEK after release ! The album has since become double platinum!
After completing a sell-out UK tour which included eight nights at Wembley Arena, LEVEL 42 went off to Europe for a five week tour. A third single from the « Running In The Family » was released, « To Be With You Again », which also achieved a top ten placing.
The summer saw the boys appear as special guests on the Madonna tour and also headlining their own shows in the States when the Madonna tour finished.
During October 1987 both Phil and Boon left LEVEL 42, Phil suffered from nervous exhaustion and reportedly was not satisfied with the band’s direction in terms of its newer « pop » sound. Boon likewise suffered from stomach problems and decided to retire in order to settle down with his wife and children.
Neil Conti from Prefab Sprout joined temporarily and Paul Gendler also joined LEVEL 42 on guitar to finish the Tina Turner tour in the US.
December saw the release of « Children Say » with the video featuring only Mark & Mike.
At the end of 1987, Mark & Mike were looking for a new guitarist and drummer. One name on the short-list for drummer was Gary Husband who had almost joined in 1985 when Phil Gould had left the band for one week. Gary Husband, ex-Allan Holdsworth and Syd Lawrence, suggested Steve Topping (to quote Gary – « He’s a great guitarist ») to fill the other position.
Early 1988 Mark, Mike, Gary and Steve were in Ireland writing and rehearsing for the new album which was, of course, « Staring At The Sun ».
After Dublin, LEVEL 42 moved onto the recording studios in the south of France and Steve Topping left the group after finding difficulty in fitting into the music and life with the band.
Alan Murphy then joined during the session at Miraval. He had previously played with Go West taking care of all the key guitar solos. He was one of the top five session guitarists in the UK.
The album was finished in a record 26 days and was co-produced by the band, Wally Badarou and Julian Mendelsohn.
The release of the album was followed by a four month European tour culminating in six sell-out nights at Wembley Arena over the New Year which proved that LEVEL 42 is one of the hardest working bands in the world !
The UK tour ended at the end of January 1989 and in the spring the band decided to take some time off. Mark got his home studio up to scratch and he and Mike wrote possible material for inclusion on the next album.
In July they appeared as the « house-band » behind The Prince’s Trust Concert held at the NEC in Birmingham. They backed the likes of Spandau Ballet, Mike & The Mechanics, Andy Bell of Erasure, Alexander O’Neal plus many more – what a mixture of styles!
Sadly, the new line-up of Mark, Mike, Gary and Alan was not to last.
Alan became seriously ill and died of AIDS-related symptoms on Thursday, 19th October, 1989.
A devastated LEVEL 42 cancelled all promotional work connected with the single « Take Care Of Yourself » released earlier in October.
November 1989 saw the release of the « Level Best » album, a collection of their greatest hits. It went double platinum within three weeks; a fitting tribute to a great band and to Alan Murphy, a gifted musician.
In December 1989, Mike embarked on a solo album project. The album was recorded in London and mixed in Scotland. Calum Malcolm co- produced with Mike and Pino Palladino (bass), Manu Katche (drums) and Dominic Miller (guitar) were the principal musicians along with Mike on keyboards and vocals. The album was released on the 11th of June and Mike did two shows. One in London at the Subterranea and the second in Glasgow at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut.
Whilst Mike was working on his solo material, Mark was no idle either. Work was completed on the studio and Mark wrote new material (for the band and other artists) with a number of co-writes including Rick Astley and Drew Barfield.
Album recording started at the beginning of August 1990. The album was co-produced by the band and Wally Badarou and mixed by Tom Lord Alge at the Hit Factory in New York.
After playing on five tracks of the new album Allan Holdsworth was asked to join the 1990/91 tour in order to recreate some of his stunning guitar work. Allan, critically acclaimed by many of the world’s top guitar gurus, has made serious contributions to many legendary rock and instrumental groups such as Bruford, Soft Machine, Jean-Luc Ponty, Gong and Tony William’s Life Time. Gary had initially teamed up with Allan in 1980 and toured many times with him even while holding down another job in LEVEL 42!
1990 had been a busy year for LEVEL 42 with the launch of Mike’s solo album « Changes »; Mark’s debut as a cafe owner « JOE DAFLO’s » and, Gary’s eastern tour taking in Japan and Australia with Allan Holdsworth. The release date of the new album, « Guaranteed » was postponed until 1991 after a dispute with their record company, Polydor. Apparently, Polydor wanted the band to have a more « commercial » sound and the band was unwilling to compromise and parted ways with Polydor. The year ended with a record-breaking 15 nights at the Hammersmith Odeon overtaking a previous record of 14 shows set by Elton John.
RCA/BMG signed LEVEL 42 in 1991 and was willing to release their new album. « Guaranteed » hit the shelves in September and the first single, « Guaranteed » hit the UK and European Top 40 charts. They later toured Britain and Europe to support the album, this time the lineup being King, Lindup, Husband and top UK session guitarist Jakko Jakszyk, who played for such artists as Swing Out Sister and others.
« Guaranteed » was released in March in North America, but the record company and the band decided not to tour there as they thought it wouldn’t be « financially feasible. » The rest of the year saw the release of other singles off the album in the UK and Europe, but none of them entering the UK Top 30.
The year 1993 was mostly an inactive year for the band. At the beginning of the year, drummer Gary Husband decided to leave LEVEL 42, apparently becoming disillusioned with playing drums to a sequencer click in concert and in the studio. He later re-joined Allan Holdsworth’s band.
In the latter portion of the year, the band began writing and recording their next album, this time employing the help of ex-drummer and old friend Phil Gould and session guitarist Danny Bloom, an American. But Gould only opted to help the band out in the studio, and not tour.
1994 was the year the band put out its latest effort, « Forever Now, » released in March. The album and first single, also called « Forever Now » hit the UK Top 40. A few weeks later, in April, the album’s second single, « All Over You, » debuted in the UK charts at #26, the first time LEVEL 42 has had 2 consecutive UK Top 40 hits since 1987.
In July, they released their third single from the album, « Love In A Peaceful World. »
But nothing lasts forever; in the fall of 1994, they embarked on a European tour – their last tour ever.
On Friday, October 14, 1994, LEVEL 42 played their penultimate show at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Mark King and Mike Lindup
When Level 42 folded in 1994, Mark King returned to the easy life in the Isle of Wight but eventually decided to get back to what he knew best of all: music. He launched his solo career in 1998 and to date has released four solo LPs.
They’re back! One of the biggest Pop bands of the 80s and early 90s are reformed for a one-off Greatest Hits Tour, driven by tireless bass maestro Mark King and back on the road for the first time since 1994!
Love Meeting Love (1980)
Love Games (1981)(#38 UK)
Turn It On (1981)
Are You Hearing (What I Hear)? (1982)
Weave Your Spell (1982)
The Chinese Way (1983)(#24 UK)
Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind (1983)
The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) (1983)(#10 UK)
Micro Kids (1983)(#37 UK)
Hot Water (1984)(# 18 UK)
The Chant Has Begun (1984)
Something About You (1985)(#6 UK)(#7 US)
Leaving Me Now (1985)(#15 UK)
Lessions In Love (1986)(#3 UK)(#12 US)
Running In The Family (1987)(#6 UK)
To Be With You Again (1987)(#10 UK)
It’s Over (1987)(#10 UK)
Children Say (1987)(#22 UK)
Heaven In My Hands (1988)(#12 UK)
Take A Look (1988)(#32 UK)
Tracie (1989)(#25 UK)
Take care of your self(1989)(#39 UK)
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)
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)
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