Level 42

Level 42 Wally Badarou

Left to right: Mike Lindup, Mark King, Rowland ‘Boon’ Gould, Phil Gould and Wally Badarou

Level 42’s songs have enduring strength and appeal.

This English jazz-funk band formed on the Isle of Wight and have had various members. For me, those who have stood out are Mark King, Mike Lindup and brothers Phil and Rowland Gould.

What’s good about Level 42? – Strong, interesting song arrangements, a perfectly tight and elaborate funk sound between rhythm guitar and slapping bass, infectious hooks, Mike Lindup’s tenor voice contrasting Mark King’s baritone, Lindup’s keyboard harmonies and the synthesizer sounds that he makes and integrates with the rest of the band. Tight rhythm guitar and drumming parts from Boon and Phil Gould lock everything together …and in the background the raw, keyboard funk of Wally Badarou.

Level 42 songs to check out:

  • Turn it On
  • Love Games
  • Starchild
  • Kouyate
  • World Machine
  • The Sleepwalkers
  • The Sun Goes Down (Livin’ it Up)
  • Microkid

A stand-out song for me would be Microkid from the album ‘Standing in the Light’ (1983). There’s an electrifying moment in the song (the extended remix is the best version) in which Mike Lindup performs an amazing scat, vocoder cadenza while backed by Latin rhythms from his compatriots. It’s a perfect coalescence of freedom, skill and discipline as he has simultaneously to sing, play, control synths and groove. Pushing all the buttons, speaking digi-talk and generating square waves, the lyrics of this song are apposite.

An often hidden member of the group who contributed funky, infectious keyboard lines and harmonies was the wonderful Wally Badarou. Drummer Phil Gould says Wally provided the ‘DNA’ for many of Level-42’s songs. You can find out more about Wally (including his Digitizable Art manifesto) at www.wallybadarou.com.

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