Formed in early 1980, Level 42 comprised brothers Phil and Boon Gould on drums and guitar, keyboardist Mike Lindup and Mark King on bass and vocals. Their self-titled 1981 debut album and hit single Love Games put them at the forefront of the early ’80s Brit funk movement and the band built up a solid fanbase in Europe, garnering laurels for the controlled energy and inventiveness of their live shows. With the release of the single The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) and their fourth album, Standing In The Light, Level 42 became a major player in the UK. 1987 was their most successful year with the release of Running In The Family, but then the original line-up disintegrated. Various remodelled versions of the band returned in the early ’90s, but it was never quite the same.
One constant throughout all of this was the fiery playing of slap maestro Mark King (see Guitar & Bass Feb 2005 for interview).
If you consider the busy, highly percussive nature of his playing, exemplary time-keeping and thin, hi-fi sound, the fact that King started on drums makes perfect sense. Because he also handled the lead vocal duties, King’s profile in the bass playing community was huge. This, combined with his exciting and individual approach on a variety of Jaydee, Alembic, Status and Goodfellow basses, helped attract a new legion of players to the instrument.