After 30 years, 6 million singles sales and umpteen top ten hits, Madness release Total Madness; a collection of their classic singles on one album. So is this release like the recent reissue of albums from The Beatles and just another way of squeezing more money out of the music buying public, or is this a disc everyone should have in their CD storage unit?
There is little doubt that Madness are one of the few great British singles bands, and anyone who’s had a nose through their parents record collection is bound to have stumbled across something by the Nutty Boys. Or maybe you recognise frontman Suggs from the frozen food adverts on the television.
As the introduction to One Step Beyond says, “…listen buster, you better start to move your feet!”, which you won’t be able to resist from doing once that saxophone starts off. The kind of music that anyone can dance to, the stabbing guitars, walking bass and hammond organ make up the classic Madness sound that One Step Beyond crams into a little over two minutes. But there’s one huge element missing…
That would be the aforementioned frontman Suggs. Or Graham Mcpherson to his mum. Suggs doesn’t just have a vocal that you can spot a mile off, the wit of his lyrics set Madness apart from their peers and defined the sound of the band. Whether it be on the coming of age hit House Of Fun or the more sentimental My Girl, Suggs is the icing on the nutty cake.
Baggy Trousers and Our House will be familiar to anyone aged between 16 and 60, and with other hits like Embarrassment, My Girl and Driving In My Car (it seems no subject is off limits for this band), Madness dominated the British music scene in the late 70’s and early 80’s and with songs like this it’s not hard to see how.
The Caribbean flavour of Wings Of A Dove is adopted well by the band and even on Grey Day (“…so begins another weary day.”) which is, well, pretty grey by this bands’ standards, they still know how to get you up dancing. The same can be said on Tomorrow’s Just Another Day, its catchy chorus grabbing you instantly.
Madness split towards the end of the 80’s following musical differences but 1999 comeback single Lovestruck picked up where they left off. Debut single The Prince is more ska-tinged and in keeping with bands like The Specials that were around at the tail end of the 70’s. Bringing us up to date with the lead single NW5 from recent album The Liberty Of Norton Folgate, it shows that this band can still pen a good tune and serves not just as a reminder of their early ‘glory days’ but that there is more to discover in the back catalogue of this great band, and also possibly much more to come in the future.
Madness will be touring the UK in December 2009 so if you’re interested in witnessing what is sure to be a fantastic musical performance or you just want to know more about the Nutty Boys, please visit the following link;