LEVEL 42  

Mark King

Boon Gould

Phil Gould

Mike Lindup

1984 album containing the hit single Hot Water

The unassuming part of Britain known as The Isle of Wight, could hardly be thought of as a home to funk music or it’s practitioners. Nevertheless this was the case where it concerned bass player Mark King, keyboardist Mike Lindup, drummer Phil Gould and guitarist Boon Gould.

Former schoolboy drummer Mark King joined numerous bands while still in education, much like the Gould brothers who also resided on the Island. However, they all eventually changed their tastes in musical instruments along the way. Londoner Mike Lindup attended music schools in his hometown and Manchester in the north of England, in order to learn the piano at the behest of his parents. In their earliest incarnation, the group catered to the Isle of Wight’s holiday camps which needed live entertainment for their guests. At the time, they were in essence a kind of lounge band, albeit with a funkier edge.

Later on they moved to London which they considered to be the mecca of jazz musicians, met Lindup while there, and came to the attention of musician and producer Andy Sojka (pronounced Soy-car), who ran his own label called Elite. Sojka financed the band during their formative years, and also supplied many of the Caister DJs with their music through his All Ears record shop, which was situated in Harlesden North West London. The first single to gain prominence, Love Meeting Love, became something of a phenomena when released, and even caused the quartet to be lauded by certain sections of the music press who often disregarded home grown talent. The instrumental Sandstorm was another breakthrough track which ignited the ears of their fans. In fact, many of their early recordings such as (Flying High) On The Wings Of Love, are still highly valued collector’s items. Once they had departed to Polydor, their singles were re-released, and a self-titled debut LP appeared in 1981. It contained the singles Love Games, Turn It On, and three sublime instrumentals: Heathrow, Dune Tune, and 43. The LP’s final track was Starchild, and three of the album's songs were co-written by Wally Badarou, an experimental keyboardist from Africa. A number of them entered the soul and pop music charts, and King performed most of the lead vocals, while Lindup undertook the chores on the last track. The inevitable promotional tours ensued, and The Early Tapes, a collection of their very first recordings became available.

Their second LP The Pursuit Of Accidents included the title track, Weave Your Spell, You Can’t Blame Louis, Eyes Waterfalling, and The Chinese Way earned them well deserved chart action in 1983. This along with their first set, was slickly produced by Mike Vernon.

The extraordinary speed at which King performed the slap-bass technique, earned him the title Thunderthumbs. He even released an album with Lindup under that name.

Their 1983 LP Standing In the Light was produced by Verdine White and Larry Dunn from the ‘70s supergroup Earth, Wind & Fire. This set was much more dance oriented and electronic, as was most of the music at the time, but still earned the group a top 10 UK hit with The Sun Goes Down (Living it up). Micro Kid was another track aimed squarely at nightclub dancefloors.

True Colours, their fourth LP in as many years, was probably considered by their long term fans to be the last to contain songs that were heavily funk influenced. Hot Water was another chart success, but after this album their subsequent releases tended to be very commercial in nature. By the late 1980s, the group had changed direction to produce more radio friendly material, and the Gould brothers alighted the group after their World Machine LP in 1985.

Although Children Say in 1987 was a reminder of their earlier days, eventually Lindup also left the band to record his own albums. Mark King continued on with a new line-up, and even released a solo set of jazz songs. Amazingly the band re-emerged, and Lindup returned to the fold for a series of concerts at the end of 2006, which completed a European tour. That same year also saw the release of their album Retroglide.

*Updated 4/12/16

 

 

Debut album from 1981 on Polydor

Their earlier recordings for those who missed out

7 inch single

The Pursuit of Accidents LP

Standing in the Light album from 1983