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Articles Home » 1987 Articles » Level 42 - 1987 Running In The Family
Level 42 - 1987 Running In The Family

ARTIST: Level 42
ALBUM: Running In The Family
LABEL: Polydor
SERIAL: 831 593-2
YEAR: 1987


LINEUP: Mark King - bass, vocals * Mike Lindup - keyboards, vocals * Phil Gould - drums * Boon Gould - guitars

Additional Musicians: Wally Badarou - keyboards, vocals * Gary Barnacle, Krys Mach - sax * Dick Cuthel - trumpet

TRACK LISTING: 01 Lessons In Love * 02 Children Say * 03 Running In The Family * 04 It's Over * 05 To Be With You Again * 06 Two Solitudes * 07 Fashion Fever * 08 The Sleepwalkers * 09 Freedom Someday


Part of the early '80s British Funk movement which lasted a nanosecond and happily slipped by this reviewer; Level 42 came to everyone's attention via the globe-trotting smash 'Something About You' from the 1985 album 'World Machine'. Smooth and sophisticated pop in the Simple Minds/Tears for Fears school, the tune predictably and for the better changed Level 42 from cult fusion specialists to pop superstars much to the boiling frustration of long-time fans and in particular drummer Phil Gould who left the band briefly during the recording of their follow-up 'Running In The Family', unhappy with the band's new direction. Back in the fold and making nice-nice with bassist Mark King proved to be a wise decision as the record became their most successful to date, bolstered by high profile tours with both Madonna and Tina Turner.

The Songs
Musically, 'Running In The Family' is spectacular hi-tech, fulfilling the promise of 'Something About You' and producing no less than five hit singles. Anchored by King's thumb-throbbing slap bass, opener and hook-laden 'Lessons In Love' pulsates with energy and driving rhythms while 'Children Say' is just as exhilarating and with the break-filled title track, it's a near-perfect '80s pop trifecta. 'It's Over' down shifts the previous bubbly optimism into sweet soulful grand-scale balladry along the same lines as Swiss pop heroes Double. Beautiful done, but it's back to shimmering techie funk with 'To be with you again' and the wonderful mid-tempo 'Two Solitudes' and with positively no filler, 'Running In The Family' passes the proverbial litmus test as one of 1987's brightest moments.

In Summary
And yet it still wasn't enough for Phil Gould who left the band once and for all, fed up with King's leadership style. Phil's brother, guitarist Boon Gould followed suit, citing exhaustion and really Level 42 was never the same again. Sadly 'Running In The Family' has been out of print for years and with Universal owning the rights, its not too difficult to figure out why a reissue has yet to materialize.

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#1 | gdazegod on February 19 2012 13:10:19
I really liked their debut (1981).. very funky..
#2 | Nick C on February 23 2012 00:43:29
I thought they were okay at the time but found my mind constantly wandering whenever I played any of their albums. I'm not keen at all on slap bass for the sake of it so that didn't help (Case in point Orion the Hunter - So You Ran the damned twang of the bass when he slaps/pulls the string for that one note just irritates the hell out of me). I eventually parted with my couple of CD's and unfortunately the band still set my teeth on edge and I can't bear listening to them these days.
#3 | Eric on February 23 2012 03:25:53
I don't know how anyone can play bass without a pick. I took a couple lessons when I was a kid, I remember my fingers were killing me. Never again...
#4 | gdazegod on February 23 2012 10:15:50
Mark King is a god, though George Anderson Jnr (Shakatak) is an ascended master! lol!
#5 | Nick C on February 23 2012 13:55:15
When I used to play (and when I pick it up on ocassion now) I only use fingers .... My biggest influence when I started was Randy Meisner and I always saw pictures of him without a plectrum so that was the way to go for me.
What compounded it I guess was that some of my other fave bassists Percy Jones, Geddy Lee (who after hearing Caress of Steel made me want to pick up bass in the 1st place) and strangely enough Jim Samson of Zon all look to have played using fingers. I just assumed that was the proper way to play and I struggle a bit using a pick now.
Having said that other heroes like Chris Squire and Pete Way used plectrums. I like the rounder sound you get with fingers also I always feel more "at one" with the!
#6 | jeffrey343 on February 23 2012 16:38:17
I haven't heard this one, but I do remember that a DJ at one of my hometown radio stations declared "World Machine" the jazz album of the year in 1985. It was a rock station (mainly top-40 stuff), but they had a jazz feature on Sunday nights. They played mainly smooth jazz stuff, and I really didn't see how Level 42 fit in, although I really was familiar only with "Something About You" (which is a great song). I listened to it on Rhapsody a few years ago, and it didn't really do much for me (or sound like jazz either).

This album is not available on Rhapsody, but several of the songs are on various compilations.

I dabble on guitar and bass, and I really struggle with playing bass with my fingers. I'm much better (or less bad) using a pick. Or plectrum. I increased my vocabulary thanks to Nick.
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