Level 42 / Essential 3CD set

Essential / Level 42

3CD set • Hits and fan favourites • Tremendous value

Another week, another ‘Essential’ triple-CD package from Universal budget imprint Spectrum. This time they focus on Level 42.

The Mark King-fronted pop band enjoyed 20 UK top 30 singles during the 1980s and early 1990s including top ten hits such as ‘The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)’, ‘Lessons In Love’, ‘Something About You’ and ‘Running In The Family.’

This triple-disc package focuses on the 1981-1988 era and features hits, some remixes and key album tracks.

It’s released on 17 July and is the usual bargain price!

You might also like…

CD 1
1. Lessons In Love
2. Running In The Family
3. Something About You
4. Leaving Me Now (Extended Version)
5. Weave Your Spell
6. True Believers
7. Two Hearts Collide
8. The Chant Has Begun
9. Forty Two
10. Starchild (1981 Remix/Edit)
11. Why Are You Leaving?
12. Mr. Pink
13. I Sleep On My Heart
14. Micro Kid
15. Turn It On
16. Seven Days
17. (Flying On The) Wings Of Love

CD 2
1. The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)
2. It’s Over (Remix)
3. To Be With You Again
4. Heaven In My Hands
5. Tracie
6. Love Meeting Love (Album Mix Edit)
7. “43”
8. Out Of Sight Out Of Mind
9. World Machine
10. Dance On Heavy Weather
11. Take Care Of Yourself
12. Heathrow
13. A Floating Life
14. Take A Look
15. Foundation And Empire (12″ Version)

CD 3
1. Hot Water
2. The Chinese Way
3. Children Say
4. Love Games (Edit Album Version)
5. Standing In The Light
6. Are You Hearing (What I Hear)?
7. You Can’t Blame Louis
8. Sandstorm
9. Kansas City Milkman (Live)
10. Can’t Walk You Home (Edit)
11. Dune Tune
12. Hours By The Window
13. Good Man In A Storm
14. The Sleepwalkers
15. The Return Of The Handsome Rugged Man
16. Staring At The Sun

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Terrible mastering on this version. You can clearly tell if you have any of the original albums.


Thanks for pointing out “Collected,” Paul. Cheaper than buying the new Level 42 collection with shipping to the US. I had forgotten about this band, so I’m happy to add them to my collection. Rediscovering old (!) music is one of the great things about this site.


Level 42s Collected on CD wins over the LP version. Did I say that?

Chris Squires

All of them do. The 3CD set is the equivalent of a 6LP set and that isn’t going to happen. The Robert Palmer set is glorious and is 56 tracks on CD to 27 on Vinyl. So it’s never going to be a competition. It’s rather like saying that Lennox Lewis is a better boxer than Barry McGuigan because there is more of him.

As a 2LP “best of” compilation, particularly in the original coloured vinyl, my Level 42 is green and my Robert Palmer is white, they are beautiful things and I regularly have a blast of Thin Lizzy, Carpenters or recently my yellow Gerry Rafferty has been getting a lot of outings.
the 2LP sets are just enough when you want to actually sit and listen over a lunch hour. The 3 CD sets are great too, just a different beast entirely.


I get the impression that Universal jumps on the succesful 3CD Gold series idea by Crimson. Most of the Gold tracklists are compiled with some respect. The Boney M. release for instance collected all the 7″ versions of the singles (some were very hard to find). Essential (with the same plain white background sleeve) however compiles just a bunch of tracks, making sure the obvious hits are present, but regardless of which version (7″, 12″, album or recent mix) they appear in. Universal has always disappointed me in their budget compilations. Their Top Of The Pops 3CD packages contained several songs that started a handful of seconds into the track. Now it looks like they’re reshuffling the tracklists of the artists they issued on their 3CD budget releases a few years ago. Such a shame.

Neil Hunt

I’m disappointed to hear that this is a resequenced and repackaged version of the Lessons In Love Essential collection from a few years ago. I bought that compilation and was very disappointed with the sound quality as it featured tracks using the same (mono) mastering on some of the tracks that were on the Living It Up box and the Collected 3CD. Whether these will be corrected this time, who knows? I ended up selling it on, especially as I had the tracks elsewhere.

Level 42 are definitely a band that need a fresh look at their back catalogue, ideally a box set like the Heaven 17 Play To Win box that Edsel did. I did suggest this to Edsel when I was helping them fix their Heaven 17 replacement discs. It’s hard to believe that one of their biggest selling albums World Machine aisn’t really in print on CD other than as part of the cheap 5 Classic Albums box.

Paul English

@ Neil Hunt

Great idea on a Level 42 set along the Play To Win format. Would be fantastic to gather up all 7″ and 12″ mixes.
I got a replacement disc for Living It Up disc 1 mono tracks in the end.

Chris Squires

It would be interesting to know whether a company like Edsel (or other similar imprints) put much store by input and support from the artist. i.e if they did look at getting a Play to Win / keychains and snowstorms type box for a group like Level42 would it be a deal breaker if the group said “No Thanks”. Killing the idea at an early stage.
Although I can’t think why a group would do that, surely some have.


Waiting for Weave Your Spell (12” Re-mix) & Micro-Kid (Extended Version) on CD.

Richard Z

Usually I try to add something positive.
But at this point I have lost count concerning the many Level 42 greatest hits packages,
and what mix of “Hot Water” or “The Sun Goes Down” is on this or on that package.
Big fan, and I need to look at my collection, which is not complete, what still needs to be added.
But not sure which of the many releases I should get.

David Roest

The focus goes up to 1989. Take Care Of Yourself was released late ’89.


All those criticising Mark King really should stop and read again Paul’s original post.
This is a budget release- and a very good one at that price- NOT any kind of official Level 42 release from their vaults. As for MK not wanting old material released, I suggest you spend the remainder of your lock down time on you tube as he has been pumping outold rare tunes and demos for fun.

Simon Carson

This is basically a reissue of the 2017 Spectrum compilation which was titled ‘Lessons in Love The Essential’ As far as I can see the tracklist is the same except in a different order. I assume or hope there will be some sort of 40th Anniversary release later in the year.


You beat me to that as i was going to say the same thing regarding the track listing being the same on that compilation. It really annoyed me when back in 2014 when they remastered 3 of their albums as doubles with near enough everything was included connected to those albums and they ignored World Machine and Running In The Family. Forgetting the 2000 remasters of both those albums since then they released two deluxe editions which were terrible and included tracks not even recorded in that era. One last thing that To Be With You Again (ADSC mix) is truly crap and i can understand why Mark King never liked it.

Cory Eling

Excellent sounding mastering’s for the Extended It’s Over can be found on the 1987
Running In The Family Platinum Edition or the 1987/88 CD-V CD Single.
That 3 disc ‘Collected’ Paul listed above contains a descent sounding Hot Water Master Mix.
I’ve either had to track down the old 12 incher’s or CD Singles/CD-V’s to get good sounding Level 42 mixes, shame.

Luke Jackson

Not a Shep Pettibone mix in sight!!!

John McCann'

Shep Pettibone, now that is a great name!,,wish I was born with a exotic handle,,,was he a good producer?

Jeff Maddocks

There are no liner notes on HL, but it is the open out wallet type, with writer credits. Good compilation. It was also £7.92 on listing but was £4.99 by release so would guess the same for Level 42. It doesn’t take much for me at that price!

Colin Gregg

A very poor release for a Level 42 fan, where are the 12″ remixes and hard to find mixes? With it being their 40th anniversary i expected much more.

Jeff Maddocks

There are no notes with the Human League, but it is the open-up wallet-type format, which you have less chance of ripping! It’s very nice. I would guess Level 42 will end up at £4.99 by release date, just like HL which was also £7.92 when listed.

Max A.Mazing

I’m with you Luke. There is plenty of non-rleased material, vault-stuff, demos, the Thunderthumbs-tracks etc. But I’m not sure that Mr King is particularly keen on having those tracks released. Then again, this collection is good value for money. At least for the casual listener.


Its not aimed at collectors, just a budget priced compilation you’ll find in supermarkets…for casual buyers it will be fine


Looks like a cover for some sort of Ghostbusters movie :-)

Don Cooper

Is ‘The Chinese Way’ an acceptable inclusion, given..?

Dr Volume

The lyrics are a bit Spinal Tap goes to China but nothing that should cause offence. The decision by Polydor to issue a limited 12″ on yellow vinyl on the other hand would not be acceptable today!. Mark recalled this, cringing, in an interview I heard recently.


Always reminds me of the great Alan Partridge link. “what floor is the restaurant on and what are we eating? The answer is Level 42 and The Chinese Way”

Mike the Fish

There was no extended version of Leaving Me Now. I’ve seen this listed on Spotify before; it’s just the album version.


Nothing new here to discover. Only for the young fans (if there’s any), but they don’t buy CD’s. Pointless, just like the Human League one. It would be great to do a deluxe of one of the early albums like The Pursuit of Accidents or earlier. There’s still material from that period that was not released on CD before.

Chris Squires

Or…….. It could be perfect for someone who wants to dip their toe into the world of Level42 for a fiver to see whether they want to investigate more.

Or….. it could be perfect for someone who just wants a decent-ish collection of Level42, in the same way that some people will only have one “best of” by Simon & Garfunkel or Hall & Oates without delving deeper and if you can do that for a fiver…perfect.

Everything has it’s place and far from pointless. Not everything has to be aimed at the uber-fans.


They did do two reissues with bonus tracks….


The Human League edition was their first top 20 album in 25 years in the charts last week!


Human League’s Octopus got to number 8 in January this year


In what chart did the Human League get to no 8 this year?
I just checked the Official Charts website and there is no mention of this.

Paul Wallace

Same old tired unfortunately. I’m still waiting for a release to include the at present only available on vinyl To Be With You Again (ADSC mix) as the version included on Collected and the double cd of ROTF and WM is the incorrect B-Side Dub Mix


Amazon.jp will ship it to the States but Amazon.uk won’t, which is weird as, for example, they will ship The Hotrats 10th anniversary set.


The Human League one is fantastic, especially at £5. I would have probably bought Level 42 for a similar price… but only with more original 12″ versions included so probably a miss for me.

Brian Kelly

Are there liner notes with the Human League Essential collection? Trying to decide between buying it or the Gold collection.

Sean Hewitt

It’s a great set but sadly there are no sleeve notes, Brian

Peter m

I have the German edition of gold it’s
Called all the best & would definitely recommend it.


Would have been nice for Universal to being out something special for the 40th anniversary this year…


No extended The Sun Goes Down or It’s Over.
And no 10 minute Master Mix of Hot Water?