Ipswich: Regent-bound Level 42 keep on running

It may’ve been Level 42’s biggest selling song, truth is Lessons in Love was almost an orphaned track reveals bassist and singer Mark King.

The band, celebrating 32 years together and the 25th anniversary of the release of Running in the Family, their biggest selling album, got a call from their record company keen to build on the success of Something About You, which reached number seven in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1985.

“They said ‘guys, we need something to be getting on with so we don’t let all of this [success from the album World Machine] go cold. Can we have another single please’.”

The band got together in Mark’s loft over their Christmas break to come up with something they ccould nip in the studio the following week an lay down. They came up with three songs - Lessons in Love, Children Say and Freedom Someday all of which feature on 1987’s Running in the Family album.

“The album wasn’t going to be recorded for the next seven or eight months so these songs were just out on their own. We went into the studios and I remember John Barry the composer being there. It was funny, the fact he was in the building inspired a certain musical move in the song Freedom Someday, there’s quite a Barry-esq bit in there.

“I’m shameless when it comes to nicking bits from other people; if you’re going to nick it, nick it from somebody brilliant like him. Anyway, we got to work with Lessons in Love, laid it down and when our co-producer came out with the engineer everybody including all the studio staff and the guys working in the bar piled in to the control room, heard the play back and it was so obvious this was going to be a hit single. There it was right out of the box and it’s really not that often that happens.”

It was almost a hit for somebody else though.

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“The German arm of Polydor Records had a copy, they thought it was a hit as well and gave it to one of their upcoming young female starts and she recorded a version of it and they were going to release that. Polydor panicked, stuck it straight out in Germany, I think at the same time as it did in the UK. It was number one there for weeks so it was a good job they did.”

The fact is was just a track floating around, something to keep things ticking over, helped says Mark.

“I wonder if that wasn’t part of the secret behind it, the fact we were almost not focusing on it, because we just thought we’re being asked to do something to tide us over, let’s just go in and knock this out, you know.”

Veering off into the death of the album format as we know it, how the wannabe drummer conned his way into a job at Charing Cross Road record store which didn’t even sell drums by lying about specialising in bass guitar and waiting backstage at Top of the Pops while Jan Hammer played the theme From Miami Vice and Gary Glitter wandered about in platforms and glittery boots, we get back to by reason for calling - their visit to Ipswich.

Does it seem like 25 years since Running’s release?

“Not at all, it seems like a snap of a finger. I remember my late dad always used to say to me ‘nipper, I might be 73 here’, pointing to his body, ‘but up in here in my head I’m still 23’. I know exactly what he means. I feel the same as I did back then. I still have the same energies for wanting to go out and play with Level 42 which I still love very much.”

“It [the album] is all good stuff and I’m quite proud because when I listen back to it I realise it was a very strong album, it had legs. The fantastic memories far outweigh any of the hiccoughs because Running was the last album we made with the original line-up. That was very hard to come to terms with but you know if there was any sort of negative downside to that it was far outweighed by all the positives of what we’ve managed to achieve together - just four lads who were mates and got to become internationally successful.”

Audiences will be treated to Running in its entirety and in the correct running order. There’ll also be an acoustic section before the current line-up of Mark, Mike Lindup, Nathan King, Sean Freeman and Pete Ray Biggin, of Amy Winehouse/Mark Ronson/Incognito fame, crank out with some of the other hot favourites like Something About You, Hot Water and the Chinese Way to name a few.

Level 42 come to the Ipswich Regent on October 23. Supporting them is folk-pop sensation Dan Clews, who was discovered by Sir George Martin and has performed at Hop Farm and the Secret Garden Festival this year as well as accompanying Tim Minchin at live shows.