Madness Information Service Online Newsletter Issue Number: 911 – Sunday 23rd October to Saturday 29th October 2016
Hello, and a very, very warm welcome to this, the latest issue of the MIS Online newsletter.
Yes, it’s almost here. And when we mean “it” we’re referring to the new album, which finally sees the light of day this coming Friday 28th October.
A few members of the Madness fanbase have been lucky enough to listen to the new album in advance. It’s their thoughts and opinions, accompanied with those of Chris and Woody that make up the majority of this issue.
There’s a LOT to read this week, so without further ado let’s crack on.
Enjoy the read!
See below for all forthcoming Madness and Madness related gigs and events. If there’s something we’ve missed off or you feel should be added then please let us know.
Friday 18th – Monday 21st – Madness Weekender 6, Minehead
Thursday 1st – Bournemouth – Can’t Touch us Now ** All standing gone **
Friday 2nd – Cardiff – Can’t Touch us Now
Saturday 3rd – Brighton – Matinee – Can’t Touch us Now
Saturday 3rd – Brighton – Can’t Touch us Now ** Sold Out **
Monday 5th – Groningen, The Netherlands ** Sold Out **
Tuesday 6th – Tilburg, The Netherlands ** Sold Out **
Thursday 8th – Newcastle – Can’t Touch us Now
Friday 9th – Sheffield – Can’t Touch us Now
Saturday 10th – London – Can’t Touch us Now ** Contact venue for standing tix **
Monday 12th – Nottingham – Can’t Touch us Now
Tuesday 13th – Bridlington – Can’t Touch us Now
Thursday 15th – Glasgow – Can’t Touch us Now ** Only expensive seats left **
Friday 16th – Manchester – Can’t Touch us Now ** All standing gone **
Saturday 17th – Birmingham – Can’t Touch us Now
Can’t Touch us Now tickets from: http://www.gigsandtours.com/tour/madness/
The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra
November 5th – Finland
House of Fun Weekender
Saturday, 29th October – Halloween Night! The Bull Theatre, Barnet
Madness – New Album – You Can’t Touch Us Now – Pre Order – October 28th
** Out this Friday! **
Pre order now
Confirmed Track listing: 16 songs. (As shown as the download album on iTunes and Amazon)
These 16 should also be the CD album in full. Chris Foreman has mentioned that not all 16 fit on the vinyl release much like the vinyl edition of The Liberty of Norton Folgate which was the select shortened track listing. He comments that this was ALL the songs, which may mean the boxset second disc is made up of versions and demos of these songs.
- Can’t Touch Us Now
- Good Times
- Mr. Apples
- I Believe
- You are My Everything
- Another Version of Me
- Mumbo Jumbo
- Don’t Leave The Past Behind You
- (Don’t Let Them) Catch You Crying
- Pam The Hawk
- Given The Opportunity
- Soul Denying
- Whistle In The Dark
The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra – Bite The Bullet ** Out Now **
Vinyl £13.55 (Includes free mp3 version)
CD £11.37 (includes free mp3 version)
Mp3 album also available on its own for £7.99
Tracks – Based on Amazon – Step It Up Sister, Bite The Bullet, Western Standard Time, Cuss Cuss, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Feel a Little Better, Hongry, The Wickerman, 30,60,90, I am King, Cry To Me, I’ll be back again.
HEAR TRACKS IN PREVIEW
One Heart – Specialized Bob Marley Covers Album ** Out now – featuring Lee Thompson and The Silencerz **
Yes, at last here it is – what you’ve been waiting for!
You can now order the Specialized 5 – One Heart tribute to Bob Marley & The Wailers the 2016 Specialized theme.
67 tracks from over 70 contributing artists – 4 CD’s in a boxset
Specialized do it again with help from some of the finest musicians about
CAN TOUCH PLAY NOW – MADNESS ON THEIR NEW ALBUM, AND FAN FIRST LISTENS
So, Madness recorded a new album. We asked Chrissy Boy… What was the best day working on the new music?
“The first day we went in (Rehearsal rooms for recording). It was so relaxed and enjoyable, we decided straight away to come the next day. Only £40, too!”
Then, before you know it, time was up. “You can’t add anymore touches”. They said. The graft of song writing, recording and mixing, was done. The masters taken away and the CD’s & vinyl all pressed up. NOW, it’s nearly with US, ready to TOUCH the play button on.
We present our MIS album preview. Both Woody and Chris have kindly taken time to answer a few questions about this newly finished LP, and their exclusive comments are below on some songs.
We’ve also a couple of quick notes from contributing song writers Nick Woodgate and Keith Finch, and additional players on the album, Joe Auckland, and Mez Clough spoke to us briefly, too. Additionally, from recent promotion and press interviews we’ve insights from Suggs inserted into our Track by Track run down of the album. Oh, and we’ve a guest. A sort of a familiar w*nker. Can you guess who he is? Read on.
Albums do take time to bed in, so this isn’t the definitive judgement on it. It’s just a few posed questions giving a little insight from some of the people who helped make it. This is accompanied by a bunch of initial reactions and first thoughts from some fans who’ve had an early listen.
#. – THE ALBUM
With a glorious colourful cover, Madness as 6 top hatted gents stand among London landmarks, and surround themselves with inspirational characters and other regalia worthy of a Madhead landscape. This is quite a Folgatey look for the LP, but also a statement of personal achievement levels – the NOW of Madness. It’s a bold stoic front and a posed stance for a band united behind Suggs who is ready to take on all comers. It quickly displays “hello again” Bedders and absents Chas, placing all the faces of this Madness six onto an album cover together for the first time in a very long while visible to their public. Though Mike’s being the most mysterious one, is only half revealed behind his cape.
“It’s the cover we wanted from Peter Blake last time”, jokes Suggs. (Amazon interview)
But there is only one BIG question that matter’s and it’s this. When you open the doors to St Paul’s. Is it any good inside?
Well let’s ask him, shall we. “Hey Paul. Is the album any good?” Here’s our own Mr. Rodgers.
“Today I’ve been as happy as a pig in sh*t.” Paul Rodgers.
Well ok. He’s not your usual type of saint. He’s already swearing. But he is currently cultivating his own garden of Eden outside his abode, and has given the album a couple of spins while touching the thorns and weeds out there.
“Today, for the first time my current campaign of chopping stuff down and burning stuff in the garden has had a soundtrack on my phone. It may not be capable of following the correct track order, but the music player delivered me a moody copy of Madness’ brilliant forthcoming album. So, 6 plays of the album later I can confidently state that it is better by miles than Oui, Oui and may just be a better album than The Liberty Of Norton Folgate.
Everyone is on top songwriting form (bar Bedders, who makes up for it by playing double bass and tuba – I kid you not!). There are some really great gems on this album and no duds. As Chrissy Boy would say it is all killer, no filler. Once again Nick Woodgate crops up as co-songwriter with his brother Woody Woodgate and the quality shines through. Theirs were the highlights of Oui, Oui, so they had nothing to prove, but they’ve proved it anyway.
Lee Thompson makes his usual genius lyrical contributions (although it will take me most of the rest of my life to work out his references). As ever most of his songs appear to convey two or three meanings each. Interpreting his lyrics is not the easiest as he makes up his own metaphors, or when not content with that he makes up his own words. I guess that comes with being an auto-didact?
Suggs, Mike Barson and Chrissy Boy have all upped their game here, musically and lyrically.
When you’ve loved a band for 37 of your 48 years you want each album to be better than the one preceding it. This album may be better than all those that preceded it and that is not meant to happen to bands in their 37th year…
A last couple of points: 1) Clive Langer is back on the knobs and ideas; 2) This really does sound like a band having the time of their lives. And why shouldn’t they after all the pleasure they’ve given us down the ages?
It’s out on October 28. Buy the hell out of it! Madness You Can’t Touch Us Now… Might do something no other Madness studio album has done…” Paul Rodgers.
There you go. It’s a hit.
And it can be used to ease all domestic chores, home and garden. Bonus!
What more do you need to know! Thanks Paul.
It’s up against Status Quo, Daniel O’Donnell and some Xfactor pricks in the new releases for the week, Paul tells us, so we are all holding crossed fingers here for a worthy chart placing.
For balance then, It hasn’t grabbed every fan at this early stage that’s had a listen. Here’s one friend of mine as yet unconvinced…
“I’ve heard a copy of tracks from the album & none of them have grabbed my attention. Maybe once I’ve heard them a few times that will change.” Cheryl Hagger.
Here’s another fan passing a more damming verdict already on Facebook…
“Missing energy. Token gesture to help milk what is left of bland gigging to fund the pension pot. Still worth a listen but nowhere close to even recent years’ material. More positively it is a big improvement from the ‘rag and bone man’ moment… I did fear that Chas and Dave were becoming too influential! Speaking of Chas… he is a big miss. Blackbird had the makings of a good song but upon being recorded it is poor….backing vocals don’t work and too much of a ‘Suggs’ Story intro. Maybe it will grow on me.” Gary Balsdon.
Others clearly like some tracks and appreciate the achievement, but wanted something different perhaps?
” The best songs (5/5 stars) are in order of the album :
“Can’t Touch Us Now” ‘’ “Mr Apples” (real Nutty Sound !!, we want more !!) “Blackbird”, (sur le trottoir… Magnifique !) “You are my Everything”(between cool songs from the first Suggs solo album and The Madness. I love the guitar on it) “Herbert”, “Don’t Leave The Past Behind” “Catch You Crying” (The Madness style) “Pam The Hawk” “I appreciate the work of all the team who work on this album (musicians, backing vocals, producers etc…) and especially Chris Foreman who gave a great performance with his magic guitar !” “The next Madness album will be out in 2019 (I hope so !!) to celebrate the 40th of the first album. I hope it will be recorded with more energy, more nutty sound and more powerful rhythm tracks. Madness wrote some soul songs for “Can’t Touch”, it’s good, but the best Soul Madness song is “Embarrassment”! Give us the same “Embarrassment’ energy on your brand new tracks please.”
Many more fans seem widely delighted by their early ears on the new LP.
“No gripes, all seems good, quite a lot reminds me of Rise and fall album.”
“There are loads of great tracks but ones that standout for me are, Blackbird, Good Times and I Believe. But this could change as it has with every listen so far.”
“Don’t let them catch you crying is one of my highlights. Along with Mumbo Jumbo, Mr Apples, Herbert and I Believe. Not so fond of blackbird and Pam the hawk, Suggs soho stories.”
“I love the live sound of the album, the working on second vocals is surprising and good, the arrangements which are all the time sophisticated and it’s not a four letter word, the keys are wonderful, one of the simplest (musically) is my fave, Another version of me, along with poignant You are my everything, and the electro Don’t Let Them Catch you crying.”
“Loopy loop as the disc spins around in its permanence within the car.
Telling me tales that have travelled so far.
Wondrous magic and soulful delights.
Deep trouser pockets, to try I just might.
Megaphone announcements raise suspicion and doubt.
Old ragtime fortunes to shuffle about.
This is my overview forseeable happy days.
It’s all “Proper Mint” set the Madness ablaze.”
“It is always a special kind of magic, getting new, Madness music. There’s excitement, anticipation, recognition, smiles, dancing, and ultimately, admiration. They’ve done it again, we think. Lucky us!
There are choruses that are very much in the classic Madness vein, and others that are different yet still welcome and, in the end, convincing. Still others are equal parts of both, feeling familiar and new at the same time!
Songs take a few unexpected turns, surprising chords and changes are dropped in here and there, as if to say, with a wink and a grin, “Betcha didn’t see that coming, did you?”
And we asked Woody how he thought it had turned out, too. He really couldn’t pick out a favourite.
“They’re all great! Couldn’t be happier. This is not helpful, but I really do enjoy playing every song. ”
As for singing along, most songs have very infectious “ear worms” that you just can’t get out of your head.
Dancing is alien to me so you’ll have to find out for yourself which songs get your feet moving. ”
Darren Dixon, in an earlier phone call to me, alluded to the album being like distilled Madness, meaning there are songs that remind you of many different previous albums, in little moments, and that can be like a trip back through a lot of very happy memories as each one hints at you.
Let’s take a track by track first journey then, through what kind of sounds make up this newest selections of Madness. We’ve more fan and band quotes to come, also.
- Can’t Touch Us Now – (Thompson/Foreman)
“We called it Can’t Touch Us Now because we went through lots of ups and downs, we were castigated by the press, but things are better than they have ever been. The intelligentsia, the authorities can’t touch us, so it seemed like such a great name for the album. And we recorded it quickly, and we’ve captured the early energy of the band. It sounds great. I know everyone says that about their new record but it’s true with this one.”
Suggs (Esquire Magazine)
“They did make the perfect choice for album opener, as the first thirty seconds are unlike any other Madness intro I can remember, grabbing attention and building anticipation not just for one song, but for an entire set of songs.”
“Ooh first track, title of album and tour but unfortunately it doesn’t grab me, I think this is mainly due, in my opinion, that the song is not suited to Suggs’ vocal.”
“…and of course Can’t touch us now, originally penned with Crunch in mind but never publicly aired by them.”
“Slightly different than live versions as bit of electronic/funk sounds added but what a great track to start with and yes i agree the kings of Camden can’t be touched. We are in too deep. I certainly am”
“Sadly I start my track opinions on a downer. I’m not a fan of the first minute of this album, then I love the rest. I think the intro is pretty poor way to begin a Madness album. Strange buzzer noise on it like family fortunes wrong answer, and a few twiddly fanfare ideas just limps on its first foot. These days Madness sometimes struggle to start gigs, then play brilliantly once going. This album intro feels the same. I think this is one song that works well live, but hasn’t quite been captured on the album. It’s a very worthy album title track, but this seemed to be heading for single possible territory, I hope as a radio edit remix if it does ever go that far, but there is better on the album, to come I think”
- Good Times – (D.Woodgate/N.Woodgate)
“This is more like it, a Woodgate brothers composition, upbeat and uplifting, soulful sounding.”
” It’s a good song, but too soft for me, I am not a big fan of “Starsky and Hutch” Soul era.”.
“Good Times sounds like Madness and also doesn’t sound like them. (In a good way). Ade’s guest vocal’s over powers Suggs and dominates near the tracks end, only for them to blend back together brilliantly in a mix of showoff and understatement counter point that is genius. Boldly generous. They have taken what sounded like a poor Grey Day live, and made into a bluesy soul lament absorbingly upbeat a brilliant number.”
I asked Woody how did the transformation of arrangement come about?
“Simple answer, Clive Langer”.
“I’m really pleased people are liking it.”
- Mr. Apples – (McPherson/Barson)
What can be said, that hasn’t been already been said about this amazing top draw Madness single. It’s rightly the crowning gem of the album, first single, the one track where all six are most pulling in same direction, many classic Madness motifs blended together into the most Madness like tune since NW5. Speaking of NW5, here is Germany’s famous TV and Movie star Comedian Oliver Kalkofe, who appeared with the band in the NW5 Wixxer movie video.
“As some of you might know we did a German Thriller-Spoof-movie about a mysterious masked villain called DER WIXXER – which means something like THE W*NKER. Surprised to see that MR. APPLES seems to be one of his closer friends!if you see what he does in the shades…
Anyway: again a really great and fantastic new song, classic MADNESS in the best of ways! It had me with the first chords of Mike’s piano … and loved to sing along at their great gig in Berlin! Can’t wait for the new album!
Still more than proud to be a Madness-fan!”
“For me, as a song it’s a great piece lyrically that does nothing but get better when the video is watched, a video which brings us through the life of a man with little time to himself as he helps others out, but isn’t what he seems to be, a video which personally reminds me of the Michael Caine video as well as the Wixxer promo NW5 video, Mr. Apples as a character almost like an older generation of what was perceived in Cardiac Arrest.”
“Mr B on the honky tonk sets this up. You know it’s going to a be a classic. Mr Woodgate on the drums is more pronounced, which it should be. You know you are thinking of Lee spitting out the apple reading this”
“Mr apples, grows on you… not too sure about it when it was played at last year’s Hof, but the production on the recorded version does it Justice.”
- I Believe – (Thompson/Barson)
“A song of two halves by which I mean the song starts one way and ends with everything thrown in to the mix, almost gospel sounding towards the end – love it.”
“A fave of mine is the track called I believe, anything that mentions Suggs in his underwear is always good. I think I need to buy a few copies might wear this album out.”
“The Barzo keyboard instrumental is of the highest order. Goes a bit gospel towards the end but Chrissy Boy and Barzo make you hang on.”
“I Believe” is also a good song, but the style of Suggs on the verses is too similar than on “Simple Equation”. The Roll Up part is cool !”
Myself and Paul Rodgers are currently debating how much this is about dodgy vicars, and/or how much it’s the modern Land of hope and glory, about prison and reform school authority from Thommo.
We will probably get back to you with lyric theories in future issues. For now, Believe what you want!
- Grandslam – (Foreman/McPherson/Foreman)
“An almost western style feel to this song, wasn’t over keen on first couple of listens but has started to grow on me a bit. Definitely better than the live version of last year.”
“I’m loving Grandslam, it never worked live for me but I think they have got the song spot on with the studio version.”
“I slightly feel that The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra got in first with this sound recently. But then neither of these bands, is being original, when copying bond or western style film themes, with a bit of ska twist, loads of earlier bands including earlier Madness tunes have done this. It is very enjoyable. So who cares. There is a bit of Suggs swagger to this, singing of masculinity.
That reminds me of ‘”I am”, strength and power over brain or grammar.”
“Ska time again, yes! Oh, this is a good one. Dance. Beefed up for the album. Chrissy Boy on form (as always)”
“Grandslam” is another example of the “too soft”… not enough energy on it ! Give me on this track the good dancing energy of the OSB album or the powerful of a track like “a town with no name” !!
- Blackbird – (McPherson/Foreman)
“She used to hang around in the pubs we did in Camden, Like The Dublin Castle. The Hawely arms. Crossing paths, and seeing her talent and rise, and the demise was terrible. I saw her two days before she died. She said “Alright Nutty Boy”, I haven’t been called that since 1979 but it was her sense of humour. I felt compelled to write a song about that and her.”
Suggs talking to BBC6 Music
“I can get lost in Blackbird and Pam the Hawk, as they are both very descriptive and atmospheric.”
“Part spoken part sung, a beautiful song about the last time Suggs saw Amy Winehouse in Soho. Top sax solo from Lee and appropriate that Amy’s backing singer Ade Omatayo features (as he does on quite a few tracks).”
“This is a brilliant album seeing madness do what they do Blackbird is an evocative number . Great return of a great band”
- You are My Everything – (Barson)
“I was very pleased with the stuff I played on “You Are my Everything”. Wah, Wah and fuzz, a good combination.”
“A slow burner this one but it’s a real grower.”
“This is the new She’s Gone. (The demo that Madness looked at in 92 which then became a song on the lone ranger instead). Only this time she stays.
A beautiful slow sweeping Barso love song. This sounds like The Kiss on box set folgate too. The strings and Chriss’s guitar are sublime and delicious, haunting backing vocals. While it might pass you by on first listens as the slow one you’ll come to appreciate how poorer the album would be with something in this moody serious Barson in full flow mode. The chorus becomes an epic sing along from the quiet and greatful place in the heart.”
“The bog standard Barzo solo tune on the album, doesn’t fit in unlike ‘Going to the Top’ on the Wonderful transit. Could have been written for a Suggs solo album, think of it that way.”
“Lyrics beautifully written by Barso”
- Another Version of Me – (D.Woodgate/N.Woodgate)
“The best day in toe rag studios was when Clive suggested putting a “Ticket to Ride” (Beatles) drum pattern on “Another Version of Me”.
It had been bugging us for a while, that the track was a bit mundane, and lacked interest, but then with new drum beat it brought it alive. Very rewarding.”
“Funky bass, Suggs is so “in the room” the way they have recorded these, Its very immediate. Loving it. sounds a bit like the wonderful era.”
“Brill simple song by the Woodgate brothers about 2 characters this reminds of me my normal life and my nutty (important) life”
“Love this tune and whilst it is similar sounding to Good Times, I definitely prefer this one.”
“Another version of me reminds, me of the sax playing on Rise and fall.”
“I think we will keep them guessing. Hugh thought it was about ‘your own children’ being versions of me.
But the truth is a bit madder than that. It’s just about an experience I had and wrote the song immediately.”
- Mumbo Jumbo – (Thompson/Finch)
“Lee takes the lead vocals and whilst I’ve heard it live before, hearing it now with full production it feels a different song – superb.”
“Lee sings this in his nutty distinctive way this could of been on Oui, Oui as nearly identical to crying and crunch/dance brigade material just pure Thommo brilliance”
Are Madness the first band to do ska rhythms on a track with a Banjo I wonder? Woody likes this added element on the album.
Here is now my favourite sentence I’ve ever written in MIS, for how it sounds like a tongue twister.
Hello Mumbo Jumbo Banjo Joe. How was it for you?
“Ha! I’ve never seen Clive so excited he loved the banjo, I was, needless to say, delighted!”
Oh and Co-writer on this one was Keith Finch who Thommo has worked with on Dance Brigade and Ja13 projects…
“Funnily enough when Lee was here in the summer I played him some ‘Hayseed dixie’ and then the Banjo and Jaws harp appeared on the track! Lee wants to go back and work over ex-Dance Brigade stuff next year! Also I’m working on a Rico archived material studio album, and I have some guests including Lee [obviously] so beware!!. 2011 when we started Mumbo Jumbo. I was still sending them bits from Spain in the summer! A long track, drawn out over thousands of miles. And Lee’s lyrics are fantastic.”
“Mumbo Jumbo live, sounded too much like Madness playing to a backing track for me, Lyrics from Thommo are top draw, we now have the brilliant fronted studio version to really get to grips with. Loving how many vocals Thommo adds to the album. It’s the most ska-like bouncy track and brilliant for it. And Clive has added some great touches. Benny Bullfrog was an aside and a bit of fun, this track combines that sort of feel with something far more political and scathing making it an important nutty track satire on the album. The Banjo fits into the mood so well you really dont question it.”
- Herbert – (McPherson/Barson)
“Barzo and Suggs tune, Suggs is telling a story about Herbert with a shotgun. Look out. lovely ending. Organ is fantastic.”
” I love the opening keys…fantastic story telling again…listen to those lyrics…’oh yes the wages of sin, there’s a big fat bloke trying to do me in, I can’t hide and I can’t run, he’s chasing me round with an old shotgun’….favourite line…take me up the aisle with his shotgun….harumph.”
“All the makings of a Madness classic with a haunting melody from Barso. The full studio production really adds to the live version.”
“What brilliant lyrics in the song Herbert been married, divorced wouldn’t like too have met this young lady with a father like that then again I am a dad so can see his point I have 2 daughters of my own.Was SUGGS referring to his own daughters when he wrote the song.”
“Really loving Herbert (especially the drumming, reminds me of the old school ska beat with the chug along guitar and organ)”
- Don’t Leave The Past Behind You – (D.Woodgate/N.Woodgate)
“Apples aside, this is my favourite of the tracks played live over the summer, real uptempo brassy northern soul feel and my only complaint is it isn’t long enough at 2:46!”
“This gem is about don’t forget the past but focus on the present and the future in my eyes everyone has regrets but how bounce back symbolises in this song”
“The Magic Brothers are up again, a great tune, I’d love to hear this with Nick Woodgate on lead vocals.”
“A great soul song, live version is much stronger than this studio version. One of the best Madness melody”
- (Don’t Let Them) Catch You Crying – (Thompson/Foreman)
Chris Foreman says of the tracks he wrote that this is the one that’s turned out best.
“I never intended this song to be a Madness song. Lee and I wrote it years ago. He came into rehearsals with it this year and most of the band liked it. It was quite hard to get it recorded the way I wanted to but I’m glad I did.”
“I’m surprised I managed to finish this article for MIS to be honest. I’ve been stuck in a perpetual 4 minute loop, caused by this song. Like a groundhog hugging Bill Murray.
The electronic drum beat intro sounding more soft cell or early Depeche Mode than Madness, I like it when they break the mould of the Madness sound and then manage to reclaim the tune as within the sound of Madness somehow by the end, it expands what the band can be to its fans who repeat listen to new material. They did it last time out with Never Knew Your Name, and Small world. With This and Good Times they’ve done it again. The sax notes, yet again reminiscent of Lee Thompson’s love of the Dawn Penn No No No riff, twisted into something new. Loving his playing on this.
Suggs vocals are spooky low, then build and build to high levels of powerful sing a long that is so infectious people had to kick my door down and intervene with me to stop me playing this on so many repeat loops that I put the red arrows to shame.”
“Another grower that I’m really liking after a few listens.”
Chris please tell us about playing a Roland keyboard on this track.
“It was nothing really. I wanted some sort of synth part and Charlie had a Juno 6, which I played a simple tune on, in the chorus of “Catch You Crying”. Nothing amazing. It only got mentioned as we were asked what other things we played on the album by our management.”
- Pam The Hawk – (McPherson/Barson)
“Don’t play fruit machines Pam, I used to program them! (I really did!) What a nice slow song. Jazz club .. Nice.. Suggs is telling a story . Saxophone is exemplary and the string base. This is an original treasure it.”
“Pam the Hawk” is a really sad story, with very nice and poignant lyrics by Suggs.”
Marking this as the most touching song on You Can’t Touch Us Now. A true story of Pamela Jennings, soho beggar. She’s sadly gone, dying of liver related problems a few years back now. Now she is immortalised by Madness, a cousin in song writing terms to the bag lady from One Better Day.
“The fruit machines, sound effects, and soundscapes I put together. There is also a subtle drum loop I programmed on “Pam the Hawk “
“A Suggs Swayer this one.”
“Lovely keys, laid back sax and double bass give this an almost jazz like feel. A beautiful song with Suggs’ storytelling at its best.”
- Given The Opportunity – (Thompson/Foreman)
“Sax opening leads into a ska/reggae guitar backbeat, really liking this tune.”
“Madness of old. Key (scale) changes a plenty. Really well written. Bravo.”
“Given the opportunity has been given the opportunity by Madness after its former life in Crunch…..a sprinkling of Madness dust has brought this song to life almost 30 years on and what a catchy toe….tapping number it is……from the swaying start it struts into madness life from the first chorus….and continuous right the way through the track. I have nothing more to add other that what a great track.”
“This gem I believe is about emotionally hurting someone (correct me if I’m wrong) as given the opportunity you strip me bare, you’d take me.”
- Soul Denying – (Thompson/Barson)
“I also really like “Soul Denying”. It’s a really old song we never got round to finishing and it reminds me of the early albums, the “7” period.”
“Strings production and nice keys from Barso. Song has a French female spoken background and a cracking CB guitar solo towards the end plus the gospel choir – fantastic tune.”
“Motown esque…interesting dramatic keys…several different layers…great backing vox…’Are you still going to be there, when the morning comes, and all the birds have flown’….course we will. Grower.”
“It gripes me that Lee’s vocals are cut short in this tune at times for effect. while I don’t mind the French voices, which makes this track feel like mid era blur album track to me, I hated the Dreader Than Dreader single mix cus it messed about this vocals in this way. and while I did feel this song live had too many busy lyrics, giving us only “Joy to me..” and not “Joy to me was wide open spaces” kind of makes me want another mix. lots of other bits of the song to love here by the way.
Definitively the epic end track of the album. fading out like radio much similar to the end of the danger men album. Whistle in the Dark is just the afterword.”
“Epic CB guitar solo. Yes, folks we have a classic.”
“Looks like “Elysium” from “Wonderful”. Happy for the French words on it ! that’s enough.”
“This gem of a song is pure Madness brilliance this reminds me of Jennie a Portrait of, about love and will you still be here after morning and after the birds have flown?
This should have been the last song on the album as the end you hear the radio waves crackling like a radio being turned off or no more tape in the studio”
- Whistle In The Dark – (Thompson/Barson)
“Really not sure about this one. With Halloween approaching it has a ghost like fairground backing sound I think it nods to Waltz Into Mischief which wasn’t a particular favourite of mine either.”
“My fav of this album, love this kind of freak-show music. Looping it, round and round and round.
I just like the way it sounds. love that goofy music.”
“Folgate had an overture. Can’t Touch us Now, has an outro epilogue moment. A tongue in cheek waltz, like a moment out of Norton Folgate or waltz into mischiefs drunk cousin. It’s a nursery rhyme piece of pomp.”
“Waltz into Mischief meets Liberty of Norton Folgate on acid in an opium den in Victorian London. Barson/Thompson track so you know it’s quality approved. Wait until it finishes. ”
We close the door to St Paul’s and will be wandering over to disc 2’s demos next week in our Monkey masks. But first a few more words on the 1CD album.
After all the praise and joy of their favourite bits on the LP we asked Chris & Woody if anything on the album was a gripe that got through the whole recording process. Knowing it’s a band of 6 perfectionists.
“Haha too many to mention! The mixing was very rushed, we needed more time to reflect on the mixes.”
“Lee’s loud hailer spoken part in “I Believe” replaced Suggs singing the same lines. Maybe more “theatrical” but not for me. “
When asked what extra element to the sound that Madness added for this album worked the best. (Woody has mentioned the banjo see above) Chrissy Boy’s reply was.
“Mez on percussion.”
Here’s Mez with what it was like to get the call to come and add some extra percussion to the Madness album.
“Ha ha, I owe Chrissy Boy a large pint! That’s great, thanks for that Jon. Glad you’re digging the album – I love those tracks too. The boys have gone and done it again, killer tunes.
I was chuffed to be asked to come and play percussion on Can’t Touch Us Now. I turned up at Toerag Studios in East London, not quite knowing what to expect. A quick chat with the band and Clive Langer and half an hour later a couple of songs were already in the can! ‘Good Times’ and ‘Mumbo Jumbo’ if I recall. The whole band played live, together in one room with minimal separation – the way records used to be made back in the 50s/60s. It was brilliant. No tricks and no room for error. The boys were on stellar form and everything went down in just one or two takes. No messing around, thank you and goodnight! ”
The sound, the production of this album has a very warm and even live feel to it. You really sense the band has played together, rehearsed and worked out these arrangements jointly. They have created another batch of songs played by a bunch of human beings, not programmed on a computer in a lab somewhere.
It seems as if overdubs are few, as if many of these songs were rehearsed to perfection and largely played live. This is either a testament to the level of familiarity and confidence the members of the unit have with each other, or their professionalism which makes it seem and feel this way, or more likely, both. Whatever the case, it’s fun, solid, and impressive.
Suggs’ vocals are very immediate, with what to my ears seems like very little effects at all, which is in keeping with most of the rest of the instrumentation as well. Still they sneak in a new keyboard sound here (“Given the Opportunity), different drumming sounds there (Woody’s work on “Pam the Hawk” is subtle, understated, and terrific), and new and different backing vocal sounds than ever before, and all of it works.
After all this time, all the music, Madness still manage to surprise and delight. One thing I’ve really noticed is how very, very good they have become at building up a song to a climax and holding it there, charged with emotion. Several of these songs are quite moving, and they carry us along with them on a musical raft until gently depositing us on the far shore, waving goodbye and leaving us to wonder at what just happened. No time to think about it too much, as the next song comes right along after. And, for me certainly, once the whole album has ended, it starts all over again immediately.
This Renaissance period for Madness which began with “The Liberty of Norton Folgate” just continues to produce fantastic music for us all. So many artists at comparable stages in their careers have long since either stopped recording new music, or essentially just use a new album as an excuse to get back out and tour the hits. This is absolutely not the case with our Madness. This is fresh, fun, living breathing music, created for the joy of creating and playing.
Long may they run!
“Nutty melody fairground sound with a twist of soul, with beautifully observational lyrics Sir Madness they can’t stop you now.”
Thanks for reading. Now it’s time for you to touch the album, dear readers. Your thoughts, if sent here, may be used in remaining MIS issues of 2016. Send them in to Jonsmad@hotmail.com
Thanks for reading, and thank you to everyone who helped write this album preview and first thoughts review.
Compiled by MIS, text by Jonathan Young & Mark Bryant & Peter Jacobs.
With contributions from Woody Woodgate & Chris Foreman. Nick Woodgate, Keith Finch, Joe Auckland & Mez Clough with Oliver Kalkofe.
Opinions from Jean Pierre Bouteiller, Paul Rodgers, Shannan McBride, Cheryl Hagger, Lee Swandale, Iain Mason, Monika Cooper, Gary Balsdon, Warren Moyle, Simon Roberts, Peter Jacobs. Lynn Lawlor, Gary Saunders, & Gary Scurfield, with Darren Dixon, Andy Coulter, Mark Charlesworth & Judge Fredd
I REMEMBER WAY BACK WHEN
This week, MIS co-editor Rob Hazelby, goes back in time to report on what was going on in the world of Madness 5 years, 10 and 15 years ago this week.
5 years ago…
Issue Number 650 – Sunday 23rd October – Saturday 29th October 2011
There were only five weeks to go until the Madness Butlins Weekender in Minhead, and we’d noticed that over on Facebook, the excitement form many was already increasing.
Butlins were continuing to drum-up interest in the event, and were now offering free tickets and an apartment for two at the weekender. All you had to do was enter their prize draw to be in with a chance.
Those of you who were already booked to go to the event were urged to read up on the forthcoming House of Fun Olympics and the practice for the World’s Longest Nutty Train, which would be taking place over the weekend.
Moving on, and we gave a heads up to those who may be interested in this coming weekend’s Ska Super Sunday in North London. This would be the launch event for Jennie Matthias’ album and last ever gig from Smoke Like a Fish.
This was a slim issue of the MIS, but with Minehead getting ever closer you could be certain that things would be picking up.
10 years ago…
Issue 390 – Sunday 22nd October to Saturday 28th October 2006
We had a packed issue for you this week, with a number of large articles, and a lengthy intro section to go with it.
Our articles began with a look at Louis Vause, one of very few musicians who had crossed paths so often with members of Madness, but by appearing in three different Madness offshoots and by working as a teacher with a fifth nutty boy, Louis probably held the record.
With Louis Vause about to release his 2nd Piano Solo album we thought it was a good time to look back on how he reached this point in his career.
Next it was over to Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, a program which had thrown up some bizarre sights over the years, but nothing could repare a Madness fan for witnessing the prime time spectacle of Suggs joining a Take That style boy band.
None other than Ant and Dec.
In a part of their Saturday night Takeaway show called Ant Vs Dec, the two geordie pals has to take on a task and battle it out for the series title of winner, with the loser facing public humiliation and buckets of gunge in old fashioned wooden stocks at the end of the episode.
This week saw the task of forming and competing with their own boy bands featuring selected celebrities chosen from names pulled out of a hat.
And so it was that Dec ended up with the above unlikely middle-aged group and the task of training them to performance perfection against a much younger bunch of celebrity boys (no older than Sid Owen out of Eastenders) fronted by Ant.
Cue a series of montage clips of the training session, during which the song “It only Takes and Minute Girl” was assigned to Suggs’ group.
The dancing involved groin thrusting dance moves along with plenty of jumping around that looked knackering, even if Suggs is used to jumping around a lot on stage.
If you missed this show then you should probably consider that that was a good move on your part.
It was over to MySpace next, as we reported on the latest feedback and comments posts that had appeared on the official Madness page since our last visit. The main topic of conversation seemed to stem from the band asking track should they next make available on their MySpace audio player.
Jon Young, a long-time lover of BBC TV and radio comedy, gave us the next article, as he reported that BBC Radio Four comedy show Radio Active, featured a spoof of our beloved Madness.
The show featured in episode five, series two, which first aired on the 13th of September 1982.
We were introduced, by Helen Atkinson Wood’s character Anna Dapter, to…….
“the wacky zany funloving madcap band MINDLESS”
Which was probably almost identical to the way that some radio stations used to introduce Madness, back in day with such lazy and cliched linking.
Cue then the most silly parody of the band we’ve ever heard of, sung by Phillip Pope and Michael Fenton Stevens in dodgy London accents.
The Baggy Trousers lines….
“Lots of girls and lots of boys,
Lots of smells and lots of noise”
In this parody became a nod to the wacky videos and music style of
“Lots of fun and lots of noise,
Lots of bouncing, lots of toys,
Lots of Drums and lots of bells
sounding like a carousel…”
Leading into a chorus about exactly how mad they are.
“You may think you’re nuts,
but you’re nothing like as nuts as us.”
We brought this week’s issue of the MIS to a close by congratulating Simon Mulvaney, who this weekend became the latest winner of a signed copy of Divine Madness – an album that was currently being given away by the Madness MySpace page to one lucky person each week.
15 years ago…
Issue 128 – Sunday 21st October to Saturday 27th October 2001
We started this week’s issue with some non-Madness news, as the TMML’s very own `Boonster` informed us all that;
“Tickets are now available for The Blockheads gig @ The Colchester Arts Centre (Essex) on Saturday 22nd December on 01206 500900 with no booking fee. Avoid the rush and get in pronto. There will be a guest DJ and support from a band named Loaded”
Tickets were sure to go fast, so we advised you to make your bookings for the gig as soon as you could.
Elsewhere, and on the Total Madness Mailing List subscribers were still frantically scrambling for more information on Madstock 2002, which as far as we were aware had been neither confirmed or denied. It was too early yet to tell if one would take place or not. We recommended that you held your horses until the new year as we’d have a better idea then if it was going to take place or not.
Whatever happens, we were sure that the Madness Convention MK2, staged for following Summer would more than make up for a lack of concert if one did fail to materialise.
A few people have also been in touch asking for information regarding Christmas Madness concerts. Short of a miracle there would be no Madness concerts in the run-up to this Christmas.
MIS subscriber ‘Alan’ started the articles off for us this week. Alan had noticed that a documentary called “Meet the Bunnymen” was to be shown on Granada on Tuesday 27th of November 2001 at 7.30pm. Prime time! As a Madness fan he felt it only just that Madness should receive such treatment.
Alan didn’t have a solution or a plan of action. He simply felt that Madness deserved a one-off slot on television.
Moving on, and with the TMML still receiving posts on an almost daily basis regarding Madstock 2002, subscriber Suggsylia finally managed to dig out the article which started the whole rumour off…
WOODSTOCK OR MADNESS NEXT SUMMER?
New planning applications have been received by local authorities in respect to a massive concert by Madness, the 80’s Ska band, in either one of 3 locations.
The sites applied for are Finsbury Park, Hyde Park and a London Football Stadia. The concert, which before had a following of 300’000 people has asked for permission to accommodate up to 750’000 people.
Next, it was over to the one and only Lee Thompson, who emailed in to promote his new band, Like Father, Like Son. Lee kindly gave us a brief lowdown on his new outfit, and announced that their next gig would be on the 22nd of November at The Dublin Castle.
We had a rummage through Madness bible ‘Tour Madness’, for our next article, where we decided to take a look and see what the band were up to this month in 1985.
`Mad Not Mad` gets rave reviews in the international press, regarding it as their most convincing grown-up album. It enters the UK charts at number 16, but sales falter immediately afterwards. Still it reaches silver status for sales in excess of 60,000 copies.
The day after celebrating Woody’s 25th birthday on Children’s programme, `Saturday Superstore`, Madness stage a try-out show at the Chippenham Goldiggers.
On all 1985 shows they are augmented by Jimmy Helms, Johnny Thomas and Lorenza Johnson on backing vocals. Percussionist Bosco d’Oliviera plays congas on half of the tracks. Terry Durley and Seamus Beagan play keyboards on all remaining shows of the decade.
Dave Masey reviews the show for Melody Maker: “Old favourites were daftly mixed tonight with the newies, taking My Girl, It Must be Love, House of Fun, Embarrassment and Our House to the Americana fireworks of Uncle Sam, the bittersweet Burning the Boats and allied aptness of Yesterday’s Men leading into the nutty nods of the past of Madness and One Step Beyond. Everyone went crazy – because Madness is a sign of sanity, and the group’s biggest contribution is to break down barriers right before your eyes”.
We brought this issue to a gentle close with Steve Bringe’s final chapter in Madness’ trek through the US charts.
Steve finished his article by saying;
“the mismanagement of Madness robbed them of the chart success they could have garnered. I’ve always felt Dave Robinson was partly to blame.
While instrumental in promoting Madness to success in the UK and Europe, he’s been quoted more than once as saying, “I’m a European, and I like Europe. We didn’t need America.” Too bad, really. America missed out for the most part”.
If you want to what know the demo feature on disc two of the forthcoming box set, we should shortly have a picture up on our website at:
This will be hidden somewhere amongst the online version of MIS 911. We’re aiming to get this online by Monday.
There are 14 demos. Mr apples appear as an alternate version (not the radio heard one), Rag and Bone Man appears in a previously unheard demo version at the end of the second disc, and plenty of other album tracks appear in some alternate form.
Check out the picture of the gatefold card album sleeve for the exact tracks.
Next, and on Wednesday evening, Madness will be special guests on BBC1’s “The One Show”. The mid-week episode is an hour long, so we’re hoping the band get a decent wedge of coverage during its 60 minute run.
Finally, if you fancy getting hold of the album for free, you’ll need to nip over to the All Things Madness Facebook group. Why? Well, they’re currently running a Look for the WIN AND TOUCH IT NOW competition. All you need to do is post and write something “Touching” before Monday becomes post time.
Check the group out here: https://m.facebook.com/groups/249838181711283
We’ll be back next week, when, all being well, the majority of you will have the new album in your mitts and will have no doubt played it to death.
See you all then!
(With thanks to Woody Woodgate, Chris Foreman, Nick Woodgate,
Keith Finch, Joe Auckland, Mez Clough, Oliver Kalkofe,
Jean Pierre Bouteiller, Paul Rodgers, Shannan McBride,
Cheryl Hagger, Lee Swandale, Iain Mason, Darren Dixon,
Monika Cooper, Gary Balsdon, Warren Moyle, Simon Roberts,
Peter Jacobs, Lynn Lawlor, Gary Saunders, Gary Scurfield,
Andy Coulter, Mark Charlesworth & Judge Fredd