Review: Level 42 – Running in the family (25th Anniversary Super-Deluxe Edition)

Though perhaps not the most cherished by many die-hard Level 42 fans, RITF, nonetheless, remains an important node in the band’s career for two reasons: it took them right to the peak of their commercial success, and it was the last album to feature all original members.

Twenty-five years on many might think this wouldn’t age well as it is entrenched in 80s appeal, but, seriously, it’s still a high calibre pop album today as it was back then; when I picked up a cassette version of this as a child!

So, why should you cough up for the super-deluxe edition? Well, the album has to have some sort of meaning to you to want to part the cash, but you do get decent goodies in the silver box…

First, there is the 2012 remaster of RITF itself (inc. the non-vinyl Freedom Someday) with a couple of related single remixes. The sound quality compared to the original is improved (listened to through some great headphones) as you can hear subtle things not in the original; Phil Gould’s hi-hats sound very shiny. Compared to say, the RITF song remasters on The Definitive Collection, there is less obvious or perhaps no brick-walling; I can’t really tell if it’s non-existent, but the songs are (positively) quieter and need to be turned up quite a bit compared to on that hits collection. For example, I find the chorus piano to be a bit distorted on It’s Over from TDC, but not on this remaster; so overall it’s a better remastering job than with previous Level 42 re-touchings.
I like the colourful Shep Pettibone remix of Lessons In Love but don’t think much of the stodgy Dave ‘O’ remix of Running In The Family. The It’s Over remix just features very audible slide guitar.

The second CD features acoustic re-interpretations of the original 9 tracks, and I must say, they sound very interesting; worth playing over a few times. Most of them aren’t carbon copies of the originals as there’s slightly different rhythms and arrangements more appropriate for a stripped rendition. However, I thought it a shame that we had Mark replacing Mike on Two Solitudes as the latter’s voice was made for that song; as compensation we could’ve maybe heard Mike sing lead on It’s Over but, nope. The only acoustic re-interpretation that really struggles is perhaps Fashion Fever; but respect for trying to turn a dance song into something that Bobby McFerrin would be proud of.

The Live At Wembey (sic) CD is a straight remastered audio rip of the Live At Wembley video/DVD from the RITF tour and it sounds fine without the visuals.

Disc 4 (DVD) features all 6 promo videos for the album as well as a TV-edit version of the Fait Accompli documentary. This, though, is a slightly strange addition as it might’ve been better attached to any possible Staring At The Sun remaster, seeing as it covers that period with the replacements for the Gould brothers; still, it’s interesting to see.

To top off the box we get a bunch of postcards of the Warhol-esque pictures from the album cover, alongside an original tour promo and a booklet that looks back on the album through the eyes of Mark King.

Overall, I like it as it takes me way way back and it seems a fitting homage to an album that was the borderline between going off the rails completely and still showcasing how good the classic Level 42 line-up could be.

8/10

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