Madness Songs and Albums from the 80s

Formed in 1976 during the 2 Tone and Ska revival, Madness came from Camden Town in London. In 2009, the band performed with their most recognised line-up of seven members, and released a new album The Liberty Of Norton Folgate.

Madness were most successful in the early to mid 1980s. They spent 214 weeks on the UK singles charts over the course of the decade, holding the record for most weeks spent by a group in the 1980s UK singles charts, along with UB40. However, Madness achieved this in a shorter time period (1980–1986).

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One Step Beyond (1979)
This song is very often the opener at Madness concerts, and is actually a cover of an instrumental track by Prince Buster - he is a Jamaican singer/songwiter who was heavily involved in the Ska movement which started in the 1950's- and featured on the B-side of his song Al Capone.

The intro on the Madness cover is spoken by the band's trumpet player and backing singer Chas Smash. The line "Don't Watch That, Watch This" is also from a Prince Buster song called The Scorcher.


One Step Beyond was released by Madness in October 1979 as their second single (from the album of the same name which reached #2 in the British album charts) and reached #7 in the UK singles chart, and also did well in Switzerland where it peaked at #3.
I remember that there were always plenty of arguments in the school playground about whether Absolutely was better than the first album, and the conclusion was always that there was nothing to pick between them. This was an album packed with magnificent tunes (each one could have been a single) and featuring the energy of a young ska pop band who were having the time of their lives.

Madness Studio Album Discography

  • 1979: One Step Beyond... (UK #2)
  • 1980: Absolutely (UK #2)
  • 1981: 7 (UK #5)
  • 1982: The Rise & Fall (UK #10)
  • 1984: Keep Moving (UK #6)
  • 1985: Mad not Mad (UK #16)
  • 1999: Wonderful (UK #17)
  • 2005: The Dangermen Sessions Vol.1 (UK #11)
  • 2009: The Liberty of Norton Folgate (UK #5)
  • 2012: Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da (UK #10)
Inevitably, the sound was a little more mature on this third studio album, but the melodies were still very strong and "7" provides the first sign that the band were seeking a change of direction, although it's still very much a "nutty boys" album.
Madness were at the peak of their songwriting prowess with their fourth album, The Rise & Fall, which features one of their best-known hits Our House and the fabulously melancholic and upbeat Tomorrow's (Just Another Day). The LP featured a more prominent change in direction from the ska influences of the previous albums, although this move was a controversial one.
Keep Moving featured a much more mature and diverse sound than their debut album (you could say less "nutty") and is also much underrated. This was the final album with the original line-up. 
Mad Not Mad was the band's final album of the 1980s. The sound was much more pop-orientated and smoother, and less influenced by the ska sound. This was the first album without the original band line-up (keyboardist Mike Barson left the group in 1984) and the first to be released on the band's own label Zarjazz.
My Girl (1979)

My Girl was the group's third single release and reached No.3 in the UK singles chart. The track was taken from the debut album One Step Beyond. A reissue in 1992 to promote their compilation album Divine Madness reached #27

Night Boat To Cairo (1979)

This song was also lifted from One Step Beyond. It was written by Mike Barson and lead-singer Suggs, and was also included on the Work, Rest and Play EP, which reached at No.6 in the UK music charts during 1980. The song was released as a stand-alone single in 1993, but stalled at #56.

Baggy Trousers (1980)

Baggy Trousers was released by Madness in 1980 and lifted from the album Absolutely. Released on September 5th 1980, the song became a big autumnal hit here in Britain, peaking at No.3.

Now this one was very popular at the school disco, and the video is best-remembered for the moment when the group's saxophone player, Lee Thompson, is seen flying in the air whilst playing his solo.

Driving In My Car (1982)

This track was a non-album single and was released on July 24th 1982. The song spent eight weeks in the UK charts and peaked at No.4, giving Madness their twelfth consecutive top 20 hit single. The lyrics refer to a Morris Minor that the band used to drive earlier on in their career before hitting the big time.

Madness
Our House (1982)

If you watched the 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations then you will remember that live performance of this song which featured a brilliant light show, in which the palace was transformed into terraced housing and a dolls house, along with many other imaginative projections.

Our House was the first single to be taken from the band's fourth studio album The Rise & Fall and was released in November 1982. It reached No.5 in the UK and also reached No.7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in America. The only other Madness song to break into the top 40 in the U.S. was It Must Be Love.

Waiting For The Ghost Train (1986)
Shortly before this release of the band's final single of the 80s, the band announced that they were to split-up. They successfully managed to convince ex-band member Mike Barson (he left in 1984) to rejoin the band for this farewell tune.

With its haunting anti-apartheid lyrics, this was a very decent song to be ending a successful musical career with. Written by frontman Suggs, the lyrics criticise the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for supporting the Apartheid regime, and also attack Queen (the band) for performing in South Africa.

Madness reformed in 1992 after a six year break.

 

 

 

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