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Interview

Mark King and Mike Lindup talk to SDE about the new Level 42 box set

Level 42 / interview

John Earls puts the questions to Mark and Mike

Level 42’s new 10CD boxset The Polydor Years: Volume 1 (1980-84) is a sterling reminder of just how quick the band’s remarkable progression was. From an instrumental collective inspired by roots music to being adopted by the Britfunk scene and soon bothering the Top 10, across the band’s first five albums are live staples such as ‘Starchild’, ‘The Chinese Way’, ‘Hot Water’ and of course ‘The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)’.

With a wealth of B-sides, mixes and live tracks included among the boxset, SDE asked founder members Mark King and Mike Lindup to look back over their formative years. From sharing a bedsit in South London to hanging out in LA with Earth, Wind And Fire, Level 42’s singer/bassist and keyboardist/singer discuss their terrible dancing, the joy of B-sides and Prince’s unwitting influence on a classic…

SDE: How does it feel to see Level 42’s early work assembled in the boxset?

Mark King: I’m really happy the early material has been compiled so comprehensively. The fact the compilation has had fantastic input from the fans makes it all the sweeter for me.

Mike Lindup: It’s beautifully put together. For a fan who wants to remember where we came from and how we developed across those five years, it’s fantastic.

SDE: Why is the boxset released by Cherry Red, rather than Polydor or Universal, when it’s called The Polydor Years?

Mark: I think Cherry Red do a good job sourcing projects the major labels can’t really be bothered with, though Universal have been pretty good over the years with releasing remastered albums and compilations, which are always welcome as the originals are no longer pressed. I’m glad Cherry Red have initiated this boxset.

SDE: What songs have you rediscovered from going through the boxset?

Mark: It’s been a treat to see the B-sides getting an airing after all these years. They were largely composed on-the-fly in the studio. Because they were “only B-sides”, we had some fun making them.

Mike: I immediately broke out the B-sides disc too, as I hadn’t heard that stuff for years. I was astonished at the quality. I realised we recorded ‘Instrumental Love’, an instrumental version for our first single ‘Love Meeting Love’, as a separate backing track. You wouldn’t dream of that now. B-sides gave us scope to explore other sides of the band. ‘Foundation And Empire’ was a jazz-funk epic inspired by Isaac Asimov which allowed us to go down the road of our influences like Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever. They were a chance to let off steam.

SDE: The boxset has several live songs – was it tempting to include a full live album from one of the concerts featured?

Mark: There are five songs from a concert at Hitchin Regal on the boxset. That’s one of the three venues we recorded our live album A Physical Presence at, so that era is pretty well covered on that double live album in ’85. I’m proud of the live songs on this boxset, though.

SDE: Was there talk of including any unreleased songs or demos?

Mike: The boxset is a celebration of what we accomplished in those early days. Adding on those kind of recordings is something I know would be of interest to really keen fans, but it’s not something we’d want to represent Level 42 to the public. We didn’t feel then that those songs were worthy of release because they weren’t right or they weren’t good enough, and that’s still the case now.

SDE: When did the band start to feel like it was something serious?

Mike: I didn’t have a plan. I was in my last year studying classical percussion at Guildhall School Of Music And Drama, and I was of the attitude that something would turn up. I thought I’d be the triangle player in a symphony orchestra or a session drummer. Then I met Phil Gould, who was having part-time lessons at Guildhall. I set up our very first jam in Guildhall’s percussion room, with Dominic Miller – who went on to play with Sting – on guitar. I was so excited, because I could tell at the end of our first rehearsal that this was an amazing band. I remember phoning my mum to say how great we were, and she naturally tried to curb my enthusiasm. But we all thought we could be amazing.

Mark: At the start, we were four mates jamming for fun. Then Wally Badarou became part of the studio set-up. But we just went from record to record, really, always looking to the next gig or tour.



SDE: You were quickly embraced by the jazz-funk scene. Did you feel part of Britfunk?

Mark: We weren’t great club-goers outside of our gigs and the PAs we did on the Britfunk circuit, but I’m eternally grateful for the fact we had a readymade audience into what we were doing at the time, and to the club DJs and funk mafia that played our music.

Mike: Our first music was trying to emulate our heroes. Then Andy Sojka, who ran our first label Elite Records, came to our rehearsals and he was very much in touch with jazz-funk – he ran the All Ears record shop in Harlesden and he DJ’d. In our early interviews, whenever we were asked if we considered ourselves jazz-funk, we’d all say “No!” Now, I listen to The Early Tapes, and think “That’s definitely jazz-funk.” I think that audience liked our hybrid of where we were coming from with what was classic jazz-funk – the fact we weren’t sure where we going to in our music.

SDE: Several of the extended mixes compiled in the boxset feel more typically jazz-funk…

Mike: Absolutely. There are a lot of cliches about jazz-funk; that it’s guys in slacks and white socks, furry dice on their cars. But the real feature of its underground scene was the dancing. The idea of dancing to our music amazed me, as we couldn’t dance for toffee. Our stage choreography was non-existent, though it’s better now. Some of our long mixes found a home with jazz-funk’s dance crowd, who did amazing moves.

SDE: Was it Andy Sojka who named the band Level 42?

Mike: He did. Our name was one of the hardest things to decide on. We couldn’t agree on anything, but we had to decide on something when ‘Love Meeting Love’ was coming out. Mark and Boon had been reading Douglas Adams’ The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, so we settled on 42 as a name. Andy didn’t think that was substantial enough, so he added “Level”. We thought that was a bit pretentious, that we’d change it to something better when Andy wasn’t looking. But Level 42 is the perfect name. Because it doesn’t mean anything, it’s only associated with our band.

SDE: Were the songs recorded for The Early Tapes meant to be the band’s debut album when you signed to Elite Records?

Mike: Yes, but we ran out of time. We finished the sessions with the album incomplete in our eyes. But by that time, Polydor had taken an interest and signed us to a five-year deal, so we put those tapes to the back of our mind. Andy later thought they were worth finishing off, so he mixed it as he saw fit. We’d already released our debut album proper, the self-titled album, and worried these early songs would be seen as a backward step. Calling it The Early Tapes was the agreement.

Mark: It wasn’t that we ran out of budget to finish those songs, it was that we were out of contract before that album was finished. Polydor weren’t willing to pay what Elite were asking for the tapes. Instead, they had us go into the studio with Mike Vernon to lay down a whole new album. Level 42 is our first released album, but it was in fact our second album as far as we’re concerned.

SDE: What was the bedsit in Tooting Bec like that the two of you shared in those early days?

Mike: It was an L-shaped room with a little kitchenette that had a Baby Belling in. My bed had seen better days – it had a concave mattress and purple nylon sheets. We bought a second-hand black-and-white telly, but the problem was, in an L-shaped room with a bed at either end, there was no way we could both watch TV at the same time. That was a drag.

Mark: It was grim in hindsight. We didn’t know it at the time, of course, and I loved our time there. Mike and I wrote some good stuff in that bedsit.

Mike: It was the first time I’d lived away from home for this world of grown-up reality, so it felt like a progression. Our cooking was terrible, though. My mum was horrified when I told her about the medium-rare pork steaks I’d cooked for Mark and I. I remember when we finished the final all-night mixing session for Level 42, coming home at 6am and shaking Mark’s hand on the doorstep, going “Wow, we’ve made an album!”

SDE: Just how important was recruiting Wally Badarou to the band?

Mike: Phil knew Wally when they played together on Robin Scott’s first album as M, New York London Paris Munich. Phil wanted to bring Wally in when we were making ‘Love Meeting Love’. I bristled, going “Hang on, I’m the keyboard player! Who’s this other guy?” Then, when Wally arrived, he brought his Korg Polyphonic 1000. He got incredible sounds from it, and I immediately thought “Ah, I see…” Wally played in a completely different way, finding ways to complement our sound. We really respected each other for our different skills. Often, Wally wasn’t involved in the preparation of writing sessions, but he’d come in with objective ears and make suggestions. He was someone you could turn to if there was disagreement between any band members, or between the band and producer. He took a long time to program his synths, but he’d also be able to quickly say “Hang on, what about trying that?”

SDE: In the boxset sleeve notes, Phil Gould names ‘Dune Tune’ as the best song on Level 42. What’s yours?

Mark: ‘Love Games’ was a good one that helped us broaden the appeal of the band somewhat. But I’d concur with Phil.

Mike: I’m always reluctant to be drawn on favourite tracks, especially on that first album. I like its variety, plus songs such as ‘Love Games’, ‘Heathrow’ and ‘Dune Tune’ are still in our set today. ‘Starchild’ isn’t only in our set, it’s our rabbit’s foot at sound checks, the first song we try whenever we’re at any venue, where we work out where everyone’s balance is.

SDE: What was your first experience of Top Of The Pops like when you played in 1981 for ‘Love Games’?

Mark: Getting a crack on Top Of The Pops injected a feeling of accomplishment, but I always remember Alan Sizer – our A&R guy at Polydor – saying: “You’re only as good as your last hit.” He was right, and we didn’t at all think it’d be gold discs all the way from that one performance. Living in the moment and looking towards the next gig was about as far ahead as we looked.

Mike: My mum had taken me into a TV studio in the early ‘60s, when she worked on a folk music programme, Hallelujah. So I’d had a glimpse of cameras and studio lights but, having watched Top Of The Pops for years, I was still amazed at how small it was and that the glittery décor was in reality clever lighting and a bit of tinfoil wrapped around a pole. I still thought “Wow!” when I watched that first performance the night after we’d recorded it. I thought that, next time we went to Sainsbury’s, we’d be inundated with autograph hunters. Of course, it didn’t turn out like that at all.

SDE: Were you frustrated that success took a while to arrive?

Mark: The gradual rise was a blessing. None of us were songwriters before the band began, so it was a learning curve that served us well.

Mike: I’m glad it happened that way because, when Top 10 success did come, we had a context for it. We’d get into limos thinking “This is fantastic!”, but also knowing it was the level we’d now reached. We were fortunate that, when Polydor signed us for five albums over five years, we were given the chance of an apprenticeship. We weren’t great singers at the beginning. We could hold a tune, but we needed to go from gig to gig to project confidence even when we didn’t feel it. We had a great training ground, and we had a fantastic break supporting The Police for eight shows in Europe in ’81.

SDE: How did the band benefit from those gigs with The Police?

Mike: We missed soundcheck at the first gig in Stuttgart, as we got there late from the ferry. There’d been no publicity to say there was a support band, so when the lights went out, the audience roared, thinking The Police were on. Then they saw us in our spangly jazz-funk clothes, playing a not-great set as we’d missed soundcheck. We’d never played to more than 300 people before, and suddenly here were 8,000 people, hating us. They booed and Mark had a firecracker land in the crook of his arm. It was scary stuff, and afterwards we said: “We can’t have another seven shows like that.” We had to immediately learn how to make the audience have a good time, so we ditched the spangly outfits and got one of the German crew to make an announcement before we came on: “Here’s some friends of The Police – don’t worry, they won’t be on very long.” The second gig in Essen was the press night, and Mark developed his habit of checking that the audience were OK. We really gave it one, and went down so much better. After that show, a load of journalists wanted to meet us to find out who we were. It was a real turnaround and helped make the band.

SDE: Level 42 producer Mike Vernon again produced the second album, The Pursuit Of Accidents. Didn’t you try to produce it yourself at first?

Mike: We mistakenly thought “We’ve made an album, so we know how to do it now.” What we were doing just sounded anarchic, crazy. The guy from Polydor came down and said: “No, sorry. We’re not having this. We’re getting Mike Vernon.”

Mark: It was initially great fun, but the reality soon dawned on us that we still needed someone to pull it all together for us. Musical ideas weren’t the issue, but boring stuff like schedules and delivery were things we still knew very little about.

SDE: Did you feel under any ‘Difficult second album’ pressure?

Mark: Personally, none. I can’t recall thinking “Argh, this isn’t working!”, because we were just doing what we always did: jam and turn it into something. Fortunately, we could look to each other for approval, so we just followed our ears.

Mike: They call it the difficult second album for a reason. The Pursuit Of Accidents is our least coherent record, as an album. Individually, there are some great tracks, but I never thought it had a flow. Of all our albums, it’s the one we play least songs of in our set, though it gave us ‘The Chinese Way’, which we still really enjoy playing. Some songs were great, some not so great.

SDE: How did it feel when Larry Dunn and Verdine White from Earth, Wind And Fire produced third album Standing In The Light?

Mark: That was so good. If we’d needed some kind of ratification, it couldn’t have come from a better source than two of the driving forces behind that band. Getting the opportunity to work with them at The Complex in LA kept us on that learning curve, and recording in another country for the first time was surreal.

SDE: How much of a sonic influence did recording in LA bring to the music?

Mark: A lot, I think. We were exposed to many different experiences when we were there, and that had to come out in the music. LA is a very different vibe to London, and that was especially the case in 1983.

Mike: Larry and Verdine brought something new out of us anyway, but the environment contributed too. I recorded ideas for new songs on a cassette recorder while we were there. But, when I came home and listened to those LA cassettes while looking at the grey sky in London, I thought “These ideas are no good at all.” They were too happy and too light.

SDE: What was your ultimate LA experience in downtime from recording the album?

Mark: Playing computer baseball with the lads at Indigo Ranch while the album was being mixed was the stuff of dreams, but a more ‘LA’ moment was the desert night skies. Oh, and having nachos, cheese and jalapeno dip.

Mike: Venice Beach was fantastic, as you’d see rollerbladers, palm trees, an outdoor gym… I heard Toto’s ‘Africa’ on the radio for the first time lying by the pool one morning and waiters would give me their demo tapes once they heard we were working with Earth, Wind And Fire. It was an amazing experience.

SDE: Did ‘The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)’ feel like a big song when you were writing it?

Mike: Well, that song was almost an extra at first. We indirectly have Prince to thank for it. We had to break early one day, as Larry and Verdine were going to see Prince. Larry was slightly leery of him, saying “What kind of pretentious name is Prince?” They left us to it at The Complex, going “See you tomorrow!” Wally had ideas for two songs, which we jammed on and soon combined into the backing track for ‘The Sun Goes Down’. We were pleased with it, then Larry and Verdine liked the vibe too. I sang the verse melody, Mark scatted the “I don’t want to go to war” section, then Phil took our ideas and rattled out the lyrics. It came together really quickly and, arriving home in England, we told our manager “We’ve definitely got a single here.” But he wasn’t so keen, saying it sounded too American, it wasn’t our style. Luckily, Polydor heard it as a single too.

Mark: I played it to Paul Fishman of Reflex when I’d just got home to Tooting. Paul said: “Sweeeet, Mark. Sounds like a hit to me!” I started hearing it with different ears after he said that.

SDE: How did True Colours become the band’s most overtly political album at the time?

Mike: That was mainly from Phil and what was in the media. The environmental movement was becoming much more mainstream, with conversations about acid rain and factory pollution, while there was the background of the miners’ strike and union power. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but Phil has always felt strongly about certain topics and ‘The Chant Has Begun’ was a vehicle for that.

SDE: How did it feel when True Colours wasn’t quite as commercially successful as Standing In The Light?

Mike: We were getting more and more confident with each album, because in between we were doing so much live work. There are DVDs of us playing at Rockpalast in Germany and we were really on top form. Mark recorded his first solo album in ’84 and he had the budget for that. It just seemed as though this was going to be the rest of our lives, and that more or less did continue for the rest of the ‘80s.

Mark: I can’t say I was aware of it. ‘Hot Water’ had an edge that was a real progression for me, so did ‘Kansas City Milkman’ and ‘True Believers’. The touring was getting us to new audiences in new territories, so I saw True Colours as another stop forward.

SDE: How did the use of sampling come about on ‘Hot Water’?

Mike: We watched an episode of Arena in the studio common room about Afrika Bambaataa. Mark wanted to get into sampling straight away. We had an AMS which could sample one second and re-trigger it. Ken Scott produced the album, and Mark was educating Ken in this new technology. ‘Hot Water’ is still an absolute staple at almost every show.

SDE: Bringing things up to date, had you seen that Foo Fighters have cited Level 42 as an influence on their new album Medicine At Midnight?

Mark: Nothing surprises me these days! Actually, I guested on a track on Taylor Hawkins’ last album Get The Money and he was very complimentary about us, sweetheart that he is.

SDE: Will there be a new Level 42 album to follow Sirens from 2013?

Mike: Mark and I have the intention of writing another album, but we’ll only do it if the material feels really exciting. With all the other stuff we’re up to and the success of the band live, there isn’t a huge incentive to write anything. We really need to have something new to say, musically and lyrically. It’d have to be something strong enough to burst out of us, as we’re not going to just stick something out just because it’d be a good thing to market.

SDE: Just how many retrospective features about Level 42 have had the headline “Looking back? It’s so bizarre”?

Mark: Not as many as “On The Level”, so fill yer boots.

SDE: Can we assume there will be a Volume 2 of The Polydor Years at some point?

Mike: There’s the live album, World Machine, Running In The Family and Staring At The Sun with all their B-sides and mixes. I imagine if you’re calling something “Volume 1”, there has to be a sequel!


Thanks to Mark and Mike who were talking to John Earls for SDE. 


The Complete Polydor Years 1980-1984 is released this Friday, 26 March 2021.

Compare prices and pre-order

Level 42

The Complete Polydor Years 1980-1984 10CD box

Currency:

CD 1: LEVEL 42

1. TURN IT ON
2. “43”
3. WHY ARE YOU LEAVING?
4. ALMOST THERE
5. HEATHROW
6. LOVE GAMES
7. DUNE TUNE
8. STARCHILD

CD 2:  THE EARLY TAPES

1. SANDSTORM
2. LOVE MEETING LOVE
3. THEME TO MARGARET
4. AUTUMN (PARADISE IS FREE)
5. WINGS OF LOVE
6. WOMAN
7. MR. PINK
8. 88

CD 3: THE PURSUIT OF ACCIDENTS

1. WEAVE YOUR SPELL
2. THE PURSUIT OF ACCIDENTS
3. LAST CHANCE
4. ARE YOU HEARING (WHAT I HEAR)?
5. YOU CAN’T BLAME LOUIS
6. EYES WATERFALLING (THE PRODIGY)
7. SHAPESHIFTER
8. THE CHINESE WAY

CD 4: STANDING IN THE LIGHT

1. MICRO KID
2. THE SUN GOES DOWN (LIVING IT UP)
3. OUT OF SIGHT OUT OF MIND
4. DANCE ON HEAVY WEATHER
5. A PHARAOH’S DREAM (OF ENDLESS TIME)
6. STANDING IN THE LIGHT
7. I WANT EYES
8. PEOPLE
9. THE MACHINE STOPS

CD 5: TRUE COLOURS

1. THE CHANT HAS BEGUN
2. KANSAS CITY MILKMAN
3. SEVEN DAYS
4. HOT WATER
5. A FLOATING LIFE
6. TRUE BELIEVERS
7. MY HERO
8. KOUYATE
9. HOURS BY THE WINDOW

CD 6: 7” SINGLES

1. LOVE MEETING LOVE – (7″ VERSION) (FIRST TIME ON CD)
2. (FLYING ON THE) WINGS OF LOVE (U.S. MIX – 7″ EDIT)
3. LOVE GAMES (7″ VERSION)
4. TURN IT ON (7″ VERSION)
5. STARCHILD (7″ REMIX)
6. ARE YOU HEARING (WHAT I HEAR)? (7″ VERSION)
7. WEAVE YOUR SPELL (7″ REMIX)
8. THE CHINESE WAY (7″ VERSION)
9. OUT OF SIGHT OUT OF MIND (7″ VERSION)
10. THE SUN GOES DOWN (LIVING IT UP) (7″ VERSION)
11. MICRO KID (7″ VERSION)
12. HOT WATER (7″ VERSION)
13. THE CHANT HAS BEGUN (7″ EDIT)

CD 7: B SIDES

1. INSTRUMENTAL LOVE
2. FORTY-TWO
3. BEEZER ONE
4. FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE (PARTS 1 & 2)
5. THE RETURN OF THE HANDSOME RUGGED MAN
6. DUNE TUNE (LIVE)
7. LOVE GAMES (LIVE)
8. 88 (LIVE)
9. YOU CAN’T BLAME LOUIS (REMIX – 7″ VERSION) (FIRST TIME ON CD)
10. CAN’T WALK YOU HOME (7″ VERSION)
11. CAN’T WALK YOU HOME
12. TURN IT ON (LIVE)
13. ALMOST THERE (EDITED VERSION)

CD 8: 12” SINGLES & RARITIES

1. (FLYING ON THE) WINGS OF LOVE (U.S. MIX – FULL LENGTH VERSION)
2. (FLYING ON THE) WINGS OF LOVE (REMIX ’81)
3. LOVE GAMES (FULL LENGTH VERSION)
4. TURN IT ON (FULL LENGTH VERSION)
5. STARCHILD (REMIX – LONG VERSION)
6. ARE YOU HEARING (WHAT I HEAR)? – (EXTENDED VERSION)
7. WEAVE YOUR SPELL (EXTENDED VERSION)
8. THE CHINESE WAY (EXTENDED VERSION)
9. OUT OF SIGHT OUT OF MIND – (EXTENDED VERSION)
10. YOU CAN’T BLAME LOUIS (EXTENDED REMIX)
11. THE SUN GOES DOWN (LIVING IT UP) (EXTENDED VERSION)

CD 9:  12” SINGLES

1. MICRO KID (EXTENDED VERSION) (FIRST TIME ON CD)
2. MICRO KID (I-LEVEL REMIX)
3. THE CHINESE WAY (NEW YORK REMIX)
4. THE CHINESE WAY (DUB)
5. HOT WATER (MASTERMIX)
6. STANDING IN THE LIGHT (EXTENDED VERSION)
7. MICRO KID (SPECIALLY REMIXED VERSION)
8. MICRO KID (DUB VERSION)
9. THE CHANT HAS BEGUN (POWER MIX)
10. THE SUN GOES DOWN (LIVING IT UP) (UPFRONT MIX)

CD 10: BONUS TRACKS

1. LOVE GAMES (U.S. REMIX)
2. SANDSTORM (LIVE MAY 1982)
3. MR. PINK (LIVE MAY 1982)
4. IT’S A HAPPENING
5. THE CHINESE WAY (DUB – EDIT) (FIRST TIME ON CD)
6. LAST CHANCE (EXTENDED VERSION)
7. HEATHROW (LIVE AT REGAL THEATRE, HITCHIN)
8. TURN IT ON (LIVE AT REGAL THEATRE, HITCHIN)
9. EYES WATERFALLING (THE PRODIGY) (LIVE AT REGAL THEATRE, HITCHIN)
10. THE PURSUIT OF ACCIDENTS (LIVE AT REGAL THEATRE, HITCHIN)
11. ARE YOU HEARING (WHAT I HEAR)? (LIVE AT REGAL THEATRE, HITCHIN)
12. STANDING IN THE LIGHT (7″ VERSION)
13. GOODBYE RAY SCHMIDT-VOLK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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51 Comments

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Sarah C.
SDE Reader

The back of the booklet states “Vinyl Restoration: Andy Pearce”, which is worrying! Are some master tapes missing? Microkid I-Level remix sound muffled. The 7″ Singles CD has a playing time of 51′ 09″ which leaves ample time for some of the tracks listed missing due to ‘time issues’. Will The Sun Goes Down Tin Tin Out Mixes be included in Volume Two?

paul widdows

Just Recieved my Box set, which is nice. shame about the seven tracks that could NOT be included because of licensing and time issues. This seems to me the most annoying thing about Box sets these days as i would like to have the complete collection .So Really i should be called the incomplete polydor years lol

Amanda Hodgkinson

Well done to Paul and Co for putting this together. I’m awaiting my boxset as I write this. Looking forward to boxset number 2.

Matt M

Great interview. And the comments on this site are always worth reading, too.

Jon Birkett

Amazon UK have just informed me that this Level 42 box set has been delayed ???
Anyone know any reasons ??

Peter

How odd, had an email saying mine is due today from them.

Maybe a dispatch glitch on their system?

Daz

Yes mine is delayed for maybe up to a month!!

Chris Balfour

Great interview thanks John and Paul. SDE – always giving the fans what they want!

Seikotsi

Not enough into them to buy this but I must admit starchild is one of the best and most underrated songs of the 80s, and doesn’t sound dated at all.

JT

I love this band, and this set looks like a must-have for me. Can’t wait for your unboxing video, Paul. Please tell me the booklet contains the complete lyrics.

Max Mazing

It doesn’t include any lyric, I’m afraid.

Max Mazing

Got my copy of the box-set. Everything’s nicely displayed, but the liner notes are a big disappointment. I had hoped for in-depth, song-by-song-comments from Phil, Mike, Mark and Wally, but had to find out that the band’s history is once again being told more or less in the same old way we’re all aware of anyway. And Mark’s comments aren’t even current ones. Another wasted opportunity to give fans something new, something of interested to read. I also wonder why John Gould doesn’t get a chance to speak about his time as the band’s manager, whereas Paul Crockford is being able to comment on John Gould’s managerial skills. All a bit strange but in line with other L42-re-issues (the shortened Fait Accompli-DVDin the RITF-box-set).

Isaías

To me the most important are the songs themselves (specially the 7″ and 12″ and B sides) and they are all there thanks God. Of course I deeply respect others opinions for sure !!!!

Phil

Is an unboxing video of this in the way? Thanks paul

Ian Harris

Really great interview. Like a few others this has pushed me from “maybe I’ll get that” to “I need to have this”. Nice to see M / Robin Scott’s part in the pre-history of Level 42 acknowledged, Phil Gould played on the first two M albums and Mark King is also on the second, The Official Secrets Act and third Famous Last Words.

Always great to have fans working on stuff – if any labels are thinking of overhauling the M catalogue I’m available!

Jan

I really enjoy early Level 42 and purchased all their cd’s up to Running in the Family 10 years ago, just wish there would be a vinyl version available.

Kauwgompie

This is a great interview. I especially liked the question about Cherry Red, as I wondered myself why Cherry Red ended up doing this.
Level 42 is a brilliant band. I love how they grew with each album. Kind of like how Bruce Springsteen, the Cure etc did it. In today’s environment I don’t think the labels give bands the space to grow like that. Even though I have all their remastered albums, I am getting this box and volume 2!! This box sounds really well put together, even fans were involved. Brilliant. I wish all box sets were created like this.

Saar Freedman

for the 2nd box set I keep my fingers crossed someone unearths the real master for To Be With You Again (A.D.S.C. Mix) because every previous attempt used the Dub Mix instead , probably d/t the masters being labelled wrong, or just continuing Mark King’s disdain for this remix.

Steve Thorpe

This comment has already been answered several times before on the initial SDE thread about the box set; Paul Waller has confirmed that Volume 2 will definitely feature the correct ADSC Mix of To Be With You Again which they have sourced as fans working on the sets for Cherry Red.

David Roest

It has been confirmed by Paul Waller who works on volume 2 that the correct A.D.S.C mix will be on it.

Simon Carson

Don’t worry, we found it! Finally put it right after all these years!

Alex

Loved the interview! Saw them a few years ago at North Sea Jazz festival here in Rotterdam. Great show, full of energy and great songs.
Bought True Colours on vinyl for a few euros a few weeks ago, just for the brilliant Hot Water!
Thanks Paul for a brilliant site!

Rupert

Didn’t the BBC broadcast concerts from The Regal Theatre as part of their Sight & Sound concerts where you could watch the broadcast and listen to it on the radio in stereo. These were the days of mono only TV broadcasts or pre-nicam stereo.
The live footage of this TV and Radio broadcast could be synced together for the first time in stereo. Maybe Volume 2 could add a bonus DVD with an overview of the Polydor years.

Colin Harper

Always delightful to see the Mahavishnu Orchestra getting a mention! The mid-60s regional ITV show that Mike mentioned, ‘Hallelujah’, was the site of Bert Jansch’s first TV appearance – along with featuring Mike’s mum, Nadia Cattouse. ‘Hallelujah’ is long erased but Nadia can be seen guesting in the 1963 series ‘Hullaballoo’ (also regional ITV) recently released on DVD by Network On Air – with Martin Carthy, Davy Graham, Cyril Davies and Jools Holland’s father-in-law Rory McEwen as ring-master. Wonderful history.

Lucas

Thanks for the interview Paul. I saw them in my town Hilversum (Holland) in October ’85 (Expohal) for a small audience! Was a fan since Love Games, which was their first hit-single in our country (nr. 7 in top 40)…

Bram

Great read. So Volume 2 coming at some point, now what I’m hoping for is a Volume 3: the RCA years! Which obviously wouldn’t really be a volume 3 but still.

Albert

Great to see John still about. When he did Planet Sound for Channel 4., they were great days.

John Earls

Ah, thanks, that’s very kind!

Mark Hughes

Perfect stuff!

Paul Waller

Brilliant interview, Paul. I wouldn’t like to think how many hours Paul, Simon and I invested in getting this box set absolutely bang on. Box set 2 is already well underway!

SDE Hall of Fame

Well done guys… I’ve been there. You look to have done a superb job!

Olaf

Saw them live in a small club in germany in the 80ies…the crowd was so pumped up they played their first album twice…just amazing.

Ravinyl

Great.read, thank you.
Any plans to release these as a vinyl box set?

Artie Lee

Great read, thanks. Will snap this up. Nice memories of Hitchin Regal back in the day. Saw them twice there in 82 and 83.

DiscoDave2000

Nice interview. To be honest I’m not a huge fan of their first five LPs. I first heard them in 1985 with World Machine and was hooked. Would love to see Volume 2 focus on the next 5 (or 6) studio albums: World Machine, Running In the Family, Staring At The Sun, Guaranteed, Forever Now, and Retroglide. Sure there are multiple labels involved, but Cherry Red have pulled it off before I’m sure. The good news is the band are supportive of the reissue projects. Oh and save the live stuff for another reissue project(s). Finally, given the dates for Vol 2, perhaps Cherry Red could uncover/include some video content from the period – music videos, TotP appearances, interviews, in concert footage, etc. (region free NTSC please).

Max Mazing

Hello Paul,

thanks, nice interview.
But you’ve missed to ask them about the omission of the Thunderthumbs-track, which would have been a crucial addition to the set.

Jonathan Storer

Two absolute legends. Great interview, thank you John (and Paul). Can’t wait for this to land on Friday. Highly recommend The Voltage Controllers podcast with Mike and Jem Godfrey (new Frost* album out next month!)

Paul Wallace

It was a comment I made about a mistake on a previous Level 42 release on this very page that had someone from Universal reach out to me, in regards to a forthcoming two box sets. I immediately reached out to two other mega fans and between us we helped curate this very box set (Vol.2 in the works). I’m very proud of it and I can honestly say that so much passion went into it. The fans won’t be disappointed! So cool to be named in an official release too, something to last forever. Thank you Paul for this amazing website as without it this box set may not have been half as amazing as it has turned out to be.

John Archbell

Hi Paul

I seem to recall you working on a book a few years back. How did that all go?

You’ve done very well for yourself and you should indeed be proud of yourself! I ordered the set months ago – it’s an absolute must for me. I really lived it up in the 80’s!! Ha.

Keep safe.

Steven Roberts

I don’t suppose John happened to ask Mike and Mark why the Thunderthumbs single was left off the set? Yes, I know it wasn’t credit to Level 42 at the time, but since Mike and Mark are Level 42 **now** it would have made for a nice bonus, and served as a tip of the hat to the hardcore who are still waiting for a CD release for it….

Paul Waller

We’d have liked to include it, Steven but the remit was strictly Level 42 releases. There’s scope for further releases and I’d like to think it’ll be available digitally in future. Cheers!

Steven Roberts

Thanks for the response, Paul, much appreciated ;)

Simon Carson

Great interview Paul!

Guy

Thanks Paul, an excellent read and it’s pushed the box set over into my ‘buy it’ pile rather than my ‘maybe’ pile!

Planet Sound

More impressed with the legendary teletext reviewer John Earls making an appearance.

SDE Hall of Fame

Yep, delighted to have John contributing to SDE!

John Earls

Thank you, that’s very kind! Nice to have more than one screen of 90 words to write on SDE too.

Chris Balfour

agree… love John’s work in the Classic Pop mag

Trapdoor

Mark is an absolute legend, I cannot wait for this great set as another highlight to get us all through lockdown.

Wayne C

Such a good read that, I have been a fan of them since I was a youngster. I remember going to see them at the Hammersmith Odeon on the day of my driving test, was a tremendous gig that and was during the same tour As Physical Presence was recorded at. These are still one of my favourite band – “Pursuit of Accidents” is for me the pinnacle of my personal 42 albums collection. Saw them at York Barbican on the last Tour and the next if it eventually comes around !. Thanks Paul for such a comprehensive interview – you always ask such great questions!!.

SDE Hall of Fame

Thanks Wayne, although John Earls gets the credit for the great questions in this instance!