The album was originally released the 28th of March 1987 and has since gone double platinum. It’s the band’s most successful album peaking at #2 during a 54 week stay at the UK album charts. It produced UK hit singles: ‘Lessons in Love’ (#3, May 1986), ‘Running in the Family’ (#6, February 1987), ‘To Be with You Again’ (#10, April 1987), ‘It’s Over’ (#10, September 1987) and ‘Children Say’ (#22, Dec 1987). This success was mirrored all over Europe.
So, how has it held up 25 years later? Well a few years back the eighties were just a joke we’d like to look back on with vague embarrassment. For many years the eighties just weren’t cool musically or sartorially (Flock of Seagulls anyone?). But that’s all changed now because if you listen to pop today you can clearly hear the eighties’ clean electro-infused tones are back with a vengeance.
So, now is a great time to rediscover one of the classics of the eighties, ‘Running in The Family’. This peak Level 42 album really stands the test of time thanks to great lyrics, catchy tunes, excellent production, and of course virtuoso musicianship. I don’t use the word virtuoso lightly, but Mark King; lead singer and bass player leads a band that are truly masters of their instruments. Mr King himself has always been regarded as one of the greatest bass players of all time, but you won’t hear him on this album going crazy with bass solos all over the place, his first-class musicianship is there to anchor the songs not to overwhelm them. And that’s why this album is timeless, because every song is complete and whole and much, much more than just the sum of its parts.
Let’s break the album down: ‘Running in The Family’ starts with ‘Lessons in Love’, the first thing you hear is King’s pounding bass-line driving the song on, it’s a great track to get the album flying. Up third is the title track ‘Running in The Family’ with it’s infectious keyboard riff by Mike Lindup, later comes mournful ballad ‘It’s Over’ showcasing all of the bands musical subtleties. You can really hear guitarist’s Boon Gould’s skills really being let loose in the upbeat ‘Fashion Fever’ a song that conjures up all sorts of scary images of eighties’ crazy flat-tops and shoulder pads, hmm nice! Then comes ‘The Sleepwalkers’ which has such a cool, relaxed groove to it. The album ends with ‘Freedom Someday’ a song that’s deeper lyrically and speaks of freedom and a universe without limitations, and it’s full of Level 42’s jazzy, melodic sounds that has kept them on top of their game for so long. All of the band collaborate in the writing, and this reflects the band’s unity, which comes across as a groovy togetherness. So, all in all what can I say? A classic album from tip to toe. And this re-mastered version has such a crisp and clean transfer that will make you love it all over again, especially if you have worn out your old cassette copy.
What about all the extras? Well. Where do I start? The reissue of Running In The Family will appear across three different packages; a 4-disc box set, a 2-CD Deluxe Edition and a remastered 1-CD & digital download of the original album.
The box set will include the remastered original album and 12” mixes, plus a second disc titled ‘Running In The Family - acoustic re-interpretations 25 years on…’, featuring exclusive tracks recorded recently by Level 42’s singer & bassist Mark King. (I have to say that these acoustic versions are worth the money alone, they are truly excellent interpretations of the songs that showcase how well the band have grown and matured musically. The only track I’m not totally sure about acoustically is 'Fashion Fever'.) Disc 3 features the band’s celebrated live concert at Wembley Arena in 1987 and, for the time on DVD, Disc 4 contains the documentary ‘Fait Accompli: Onstage Offstage Backstage’, documenting a year in the life of Level 42. The DVD is complete by the promo videos for 'Lessons In Love', 'Running In The Family', 'To Be With You Again', 'It’s Over', 'Children Say' and 'Fashion Fever'.
The box set will also come complete with 5 x A5 prints – 4 x band members + Replica Original Tour flyer, a replica 28 page tour programme, a 40 page book featuring photos, memorabilia and a new interview with Mark King. The first 250 copies at the Universal Box Set Store will also include a signed A5 artprint signed by Mark King.
So, what are you waiting for? If you like Level 42 or anything eighties, or just good music, this is a re-release that truly merits a wide release. Sit back and enjoy one of the classics of the eighties with all the bells and whistles.