LEVEL42 – being a level head
First published: 25 Nov 2014
Level42. Almost everyone knows I am a ‘Level head’. A long time fan of the Brit-jazz-funk Band since 1985.
The term ‘Level head’ describes some fans of the band, many of them musicians themselves, who have at some point played in bands and gigged regularly.
At 12-years old, I was too young to have any real understanding of the early 1980’s underground music scene, where they gained a large following.
Level 42 were formed on the Isle of Wight in late 1979. They consisted of Mark King (Bass and vocals), Mike Lindup (Keyboards and vocals), and brothers Boon and Phil Gould (on guitar and drums) respectively.
Although he didn’t formally join the band, Wally Badarou became a fifth member in all but name: co-writing songs, playing keyboards and synthesizers in the studio and co-producing the records.
The band were named after a passage in the Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, where “42” is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.
The first time I heard Level42 play ‘Live’ was at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1990, which was three years’ after Phil and Boon Gould left the band. (Boon passed away in April 2019).
Level42: The musician’s Band
They are still to this day, the ‘Musician’s band’. A working band, who have always played instruments Live’.
They were different to most of the other regular pop-stars of the 1980’s. It was all about the music first.
Musicians to learn from and aspire to be a little something like.
Level 42 weren’t a very ‘fashionable’ group with the British media, which made me want to buy their music even more.
One night in September 1985, I tuned into BBC Top-of-the-Pops and watched a music video for a new release by a band I hadn’t seen or heard of before..
Level42: Something About You
Watching music artists on TV was nothing new, but promo videos were fairly new, and every song had to have one if they wanted to feature on satellite channels like MTV.
After I watched the video to Something About You, I wanted to hear the song again and again.
The melody, vocal harmony, the right-hand keyboard hook, the percussive bass sound and drums locked in.. the guitar solo.. and the lyrics.
The song is about coming to terms with the fact that nobody in life is perfect.
We all make mistakes, but despite everything, there will always be something about someone that means we can’t be without them.
The song reached number 6 in the UK singles chart, and number 7 in the US Billboard chart.
Level42: Mr. Mike Lindup
I was interested in synthesizers and intrigued by the quiet guy in the video, sitting in the corner of the train carriage, who played those brilliant keys and sang.
I was the quiet one in the corner too. Could there be someone out there who was in a band; looked cool, and could really sing and play the Piano? It was Mr. Mike Lindup (of course).
May 6th 1999.
I was in the audience to see Mike Lindup play a sell-out solo gig at the Komedia Theatre, Brighton.
At this time, Mike (and Mark King) had decided to stop touring.
He gave an interview and answered questions from the audience about being in the band, that he co-founded in 1980.
Mike played some ‘Level 42’ songs and tracks from his brilliant solo album ‘Changes’ on the Piano.
He also recorded an arrangement of ‘Something About You’, which remains my favourite version of the song.
I also discovered afterwards that I spent the entire gig sitting next to Mike’s Mum, Nadia. I don’t think she could have been more proud!
Mike has enjoyed a varied and diverse musical career, as co-founder of the much-admired band ‘Level 42’ (still going strong), his solo albums, and appearances on keyboards for ‘The Princes Trust’ house band.
You can find out more on his official website here ☛ Mikelindup.com
Level42: My top tracks
InfinityBass.com by Simon Edward | November 25th 2014