Madness Information Service Online Newsletter Issue Number: 804 – Sunday 5th October to Saturday 11th October 2014
The House of fun weekender is just 7 weeks away, and this week Madness confirmed that their alter egos The Dangermen and The Invaders will perform on theFriday night.
The announcement was made official in an amusing video of Suggs in the shower, with a short clip of them playing “Girl” while soundchecking at last weeks 02 appearance. This surely means some interesting staging, and songs from 2005’s ska and reggae DM sessions album, mixed with early tunes from live sets the band used to do in the 70’s.
Excitement is now building. A triple whammy of Madness bands!
Return of The Dangermen And The Invaders!
The full weekend entertainment line-up has now also been announced, and is as follows…
BANDS & Vocalists : Madness, The Dangermen, The Invaders, Dub Pistols, Maddy Carty, Reeps One, The Superskas, Bitty Mclean, Chainska Brassika, Jeramiah Ferrari, Smiley and The Underclass, The Talks,
DJs, Hosts and Sound Systems. Cuban Brothers, Barry Peters, Giselle the burlesque show, Norman Jay good times, Ram Jam David Rodigan shy Fx, DJ Woody (No that’s not Dan from Madness!) Lee Thompson (Yes it is him from Madness, he’ll be spinning choice tunes with resident DJ…) Darren Bennett (Madness tour DJ) Mr Happy (Madness Butlins DJ), Mad Professor & Reggea Roast, Rootikal DJs, Ruby Ranx, Prince Fatty, Jah Shaka, the 2 blouses Wendy May & Rhoda Dakar, DJ Wheelie Bag.
Sideshows: Comedy, Shitface Shakespeare, Musical Bingo, Bring and Share Disco, Gospeloke, Last Man Standing, Silent Disco, MIS presents The Madchart Show. Carry on cinema experience, and Madhead Fancy Dress.
Additionally, in this issue we announce bands and acts present for our line up in MIS’s show in Jaks bar.
Also in this issue we have a full review from Paul Rodgers of the imminent release of the One Step Beyond 35th anniversary with Fab Toones and DVD.
If that wasn’t enough, this issue is also with a Cathal Smyth build up to this coming week’s Wilton’s musical hall shows. Cathal announced Louis Vause will be support for the shows, and has messaged about the art show, supporting the event, which will then play Carl’s album “A Comfortable Man”, in full. A mixture of classical sounds, gospel, country hints, and mainstream uplifting pop nearer to Coldplay or Morrissey with it’s deep stirring lyrical content. Much has been said about Carl’s album, being a break up album. It may even sound bleak if you’ve checked out songs, Goodbye Planet Earth, You’re Not Alone or heard Are the Children Happy, in some recent performance. So we’d like to add beyond the two complete reviews that we have run in MIS of the album that Shabatt, She’s got the light, Do You Believe in Love are all light optimism and beauty with a groove come and witness the album’s full range at Wilton’s this week. It promises to be a thoughtful and moving experience, with Cathal and an 8 piece choir, and overall a 19 head count of the band on stage.
Get comfortable and read on…
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.
November 21st – 24th 2014 – Minehead – Earlybird tickets can be ordered here: http://www.bigweekends.com/splash-pages/madness2014.aspx
All for the M.A.D.H.E.A.D Tour
Thursday 4th, Capital FM Arena, Nottingham
Friday 5th, Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Saturday 6th, Brighton Centre, Brighton, Matinee
Saturday 6th, Brighton Centre, Brighton * SOLD OUT *
Monday 8th, Plymouth Pavillions, Plymouth
Tuesday 9th, Bournemouth International Centre, Bournemouth
Thursday 11th, First Direct Arena, Leeds
Friday 12th, Newcastle Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Saturday 13th, LG Arena, The NEC, Birmingham
Monday 15th, Odyssey Arena, Belfast
Tuesday 16th, The O2 Dublin, Dublin
Thursday 18th, The SSE Hydro, Glasgow
Friday 19th, Phones 4u Arena, Manchester
Saturday 20th, The O2 Arena, London
Links to purchase tickets for the above tour can be found at: http://madness.seetickets.com/tour/madness/?pre=premad&src=madnesspre
For tickets also see links via: www.madness.co.uk
*THIS WEEK* A Comfortable Man. October 8th and 9th. Wilton’s Music hall.
The Silencerz (Featuring Lee Thompson)
November 8th – Hertford Corn Exchange. 39 Fore St. Herts. SG14 1AL With support. The Skammers.
November 16th – Confirmed in the Sunday Lineup of bands at Specialized The Big One 3. In Dorset.
Lee will also be doing a photo signing session.
Near Jazz Experience
October 7th – Indo 133 Whitechapel Rd, London E1 1DT *Free*
NJE Residency continues with support.acts The Henry David Thorozine Experience + James Kyllo (DJ set)
October 8th – Paris, France @ University of Chicago, European branch. Onstage 7.30 *Free* http://centerinparis.uchicago.edu/
*NEW* 04 – NEAR JAZZ EXPERIENCE + support & guest DJ set – Indo 133 Whitechapel Rd, London E1 1DT *Free*
Thursday 20 – Borderline, London
Friday 21 – Trades Club, Hebden Bridge
Saturday 22 – Academy, Manchester
Sunday 23 – Floral Pavilion, New Brighton
If money’s currently burning a hole in your pocket then perhaps we can help with your dilemma.
Madness – One Step Beyond 35th Anniversary edition CD.
You can now order the new edition of One Step Beyond 35th Anniversary, from Salvo Sound & Vision:
This Anniversary edition has been digitally remastered from the original 1⁄4 inch tapes by Tim Turan, and comes with recently unearthed rehearsal recordings from 1979, including two songs that have never appeared anywhere before. “Lost my head” and “Sunshine Voice”. It’s also very interesting to see Absolutely album track “You Said” on the rehearsal tape and Grey Day B-side “Memories” as well as hearing versions of tracks that made the album some 5 months before the debut LP was recorded.
Hear previews of these tracks, help yourself to a free download and you can even re-name the album, creating pictures you can share with people. Visit the mini site to do all this.
There is a DVD of videos and Top of the Pops/Old Grey Whistle Test appearances, that includes the Young Guns documentary, and a 24 page booklet that speaks to Clive, Alan and Chris about the album.
The M.A.D.H.E.A.D Tour T-shirt – Get it now.
What does any self respecting Madhead wear? The only true fan clothing of choice right now is surely the brand new Madhead T-shirt. Available now at least five months ahead of the tour, this T-shirt is so NOW! You can look stylish in it in a range of sizes, you can promote this summer, the forthcoming tour and help your heroes and of course in this day and age by buying the bands official clothing you are putting your money into the future new album project pot etc of the band who exist these days on their own self produced record label.
Available here… Via See Tickets and Madness.co.uk
Cathal Smyth – A Comfortable Man – Limited Vinyl
Numbered 1 to 1000, this is a limited edition vinyl of “A Comfortable Man”, with a download code for the mp3 album. Available end of September from Cathal’s website. The album will also be available from Amazon and iTunes soon.
Nick Woodgate – Morning (Tracklisting revealed)
Pre-order Nick Woodgate’s solo album on iTunes from September 22nd.
Tracklisting: Morning / Magic Carpets in the Sky / Eloise / You Can Get It / I Can Hear The Music / Call Me… / Bus / Let’s Spend Lots of Money / On Her Majesty’s Secret Service / Summer Nights / The Magic Dawn / Show Me / Magic Brothers / Night
SPECIALIZED: Mad Not Cancer. 4CD covers album for Teenage Cancer Trust
Over 70 tracks. 4 CDs. Cover versions of Madness by not just Ska bands but lots of young up and coming acts of many genres including a few famous pop stars and Bedders on one track, too. All for Teenage Cancer.
http://www.specialized-project.co.uk/#!shop/c1atu (remove hyphen from URL)
Purple Reggae – Radio Riddler
Celebrating 30 years of Purple Rain, Radio Riddler present Purple Reggae – an all-star tribute to Prince’s most iconic work “Prince is the reason I started playing music. I grew up on this album. It’s the soundtrack to my life’ and this is a tribute to him from me.” Frank Benbini of Radio Riddler and Fun Lovin’ Criminals. Featuring Suggs on opening track, Let’s Go Crazy.
MORE TOP OF THE POPS MADNESS
This week BBC4 aired the complete edition of the Top of The Pops which originally saw Madness appear on the show for the second time, performing The Prince.
Kate Bush, the Bellamy Brothers, the Tourists, the Police and Gary Numan also appeared.
SIGN OF THE TIMES / LIVE INTENSIFIED
The Silencerz @ Kings Head
I’d been told many years ago that buying your first property can be one of the most stressful things you will encounter in life. This proved so much to be the case for me in May that other usually really important things had to go on the back burner whilst dealing with the purchase of my 1st flat. Amongst things that I didn’t organise as quickly as I should’ve was getting standing tickets to see Madness at the o2 in December. By the time tickets were sorted me and my Barnet mate John had to be satisfied with seat tickets up in the Gods but more about that later.
I found out a week or so before the gig that The Silencerz would be playing at the Kings Head in Barnet; one source suggested 8.30pm, another 6pm. I thought I’d contact Daley as he gave me his email address a few months back and got a reply soon after;-
Its a family affair.
Replied on behalf of Mr Daley Thompson
It looked like Thommo himself had signed this off but now Thommo Time was in full swing but what time?! Eventually we found out it would start at 5.30pm. As I took to a short bus ride to get to the pub I found they would be on around twenty past – not good for me as I’d miss the start! Just after 20 past I’m heading down Barnet High St thinking “blimey that music sounds loud, surely too loud for a pub?”. As I walked towards the pub an anjoining side road to the back of the pub has the live music positively booming out – the lads are on stage and sound incredible! Ian Dury’s “WAKE UP” is certainly doing that here in Barnet tonight! I walk through the front door of the pub expecting it to be packed out – hardly anyone’s in there. “They’re playing in the car park, they’re just tuning up” says my mate Tony. “They’ve already started” I reply. We grab our pints and make our way through the narrow beer garden and outside into the pub car park.
BOOM! The sound is truly amazing. How a sound engineer can get the acoustics this good in a car park is beyond me. The band stage is against a back wall and on the near side the back door area of next doors Curry Cottage acts to maybe keep in some of the sound as does maybe a big bouncy castle. There is another wall facing the band where a fair number of punters have already assembled.
Thommo is, as always on top form. The usual mix of Ian Dury, Beatles and Madness numbers always enthuse. Hearing once again These Boots Are Made For Walking sung by a bloke is a particular favourite of mine particular as Lee deliberately forgets some of the words and sings in a pub singer style just made up words or sounds summing up the brilliant chaos of these gigs. From chaos to relative calm of Daley whose vocal delivery again is a delight – mastering all of his songs. This I feel must be tricky knowing that you’ve got your dad there standing next to you and that your dad is playing up as and when it suits him, throwing shaped maraca or maybe some knickers on his head during More Than Fair!
The bouncy castle, which has kids constantly using this as intended, is occasionally having an extra guest of a certain sax player mid-song to both the terror and delight of these kids! Lee also had the idea of challenging punters – during the gig – to bang 6 inch nails into a tree stump that just happened to be in the car park. The part of the tree this came from would’ve been from where the tree would just start to branch out; as such this crudely shaped chunk of wood was inverted on one side and on the other side pronounced outwards. Needless to say, it looked a bit rude like a naked lady’s private area and should probably have had those knickers over it!
For tonight’s set we are introduced to a new song written by the bands guitarist. Entitled Callie Road it appears to be about Caledonian Road N7 and is a great little number. “This sounds like a Madness song” says my mate John. I agree. “yeah early Madness or maybe even Crunch!”. It’s a great song about walking down Callie Road and I look forward to hearing it again.
The whole gig has been great fun and tonight’s event is to raise funds for a local charity. There’s a raffle and other prizes available through the auction. Me and John started to pay attention when a particular prize became available and we can have one each. The bidding’s already up to £80. “Come on – let’s start bidding”. The bidding is going up in £5 increments and neither us nor this orther bloke is relenting – 85, 90, 95, 100, 105, 110, 115, 120, 125 and he’s come in with 130.
“£150” my mate calls out. We secured the prize. Phew! Not only is it 2 tickets to the o2 to see Madness but they’re good seats. No – they’rereally good seats. We are reliably told they are amongst the bands ‘family and friends’ so they should be excellent. Plus we’ll get a meet and greet with Suggs and Thommo. Plus we get the Atershow. This is all too much! What a prize! I for one can’t wait for this gig which promises to be truly amazing.
For now I’m totally enthused by The Silencerz the whole band are magnificent and here’s tonight’s running order;-
Wake Up and Make Love
Itching In My Heart
In My Life
Stuck In The Middle With You
These Boots Are Made For Walking
Monkberry Moon Delight
One Step Beyond
Fu Man Chu
Mother & Child Reunion
More Than Fair
Soon You’ll Be Gone
For tonight, The Silencers admirably raised money for a local charity – here’s their link http://www.noahsarkhospice.org.uk/http://
Next Week a few words on The ska orchestra from their sell out Jazz Café gig…
TWEETS OF A DOVE / THAT FACEBOOK
Various posts from Facebook, Twitter and good old fashioned email that have caught our eye over the past week or so.
Cathal Smyth (email list)
“Some 50 incredible artists have created extraordinary and eclectic pieces for the exhibition at Wilton’s. Many have kindly donated these works to a ‘silent auction’ being held online on the 7th October [Press night ahead of the 2 gigs 8th and 9th] , the proceeds to raise funds and awareness for the Hepatitis C Trust and for the continued restoration of this magnificent Music Hall.
The link to the auction page will be sent out this weekend for your viewing pleasure, you may even want to take part in the bidding itself!”
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 544 – Sunday 4th October – Saturday 10th October 2009
This week’s issue was a packed one, and this was down to our two guest writers Jonathan Young and Paul Rodgers.
Jonathan made a welcome return to the MIS with an absolutely massive review of what was the soon to be released Thirty Years of Madness Tribute Album, while Paul was back with yet another one of his Madness chart lowdowns – this week was one of his most in-depth and detailed yet!
We got the issue underway with Jonathan’s track-by-track review of the Madness Tribute album. The article was huge, and must have taken him weeks and weeks to put together. If you were still undecided about the album before reading the article you certainly knew, one way or the other, after reading it, if the album was for you or not.
Next, it was over to the Current Movie Reviews web site who reported on Madness’ recent performance on Regent Street;
“Concert goers got to enjoy a 45 minute set featuring some of Madness’s greatest hits including, Our House, One Step Beyond, and It Must Be Love. Another treat for the audience was Suggs daughters, Scarlett and Viva who had the crowd going wild.
Suggs showed how great a father he was when asked about his daughter’s career. He said, “This is the biggest gig they’ve ever done. I try to keep them out of the showbiz world. They aren’t part of the famous kids set. They all have degrees and proper jobs. I’ve made them do the music in their spare time.”
Madshop news followed, as the music store branch of the Madness web site announced the forthcoming release of the One Step Beyond digi-pack, due for release on the 26th October. The article contained a brief lowdown of the album content and included web links where you could buy the CD online plus links to a new One Step Beyond T-shirt should you not already have enough Madness related clothing in your collection.
Moving on, and we stumbled upon Paul Rodger’s Madness Musings in which he dished out a massive lowdown of Madness chart stats, facts and figures. You’d struggle to find a more detailed set of Madness chart information anywhere else on the web.
We brought this issue to a close with a plug from Mark Adamson, asking if we could point you all in the direction of his fantastic Deaf School web site, and linked to a download of the audio from Madness’ recent Regent Street performance. For bootleg collectors this was a must.
10 years ago…
Issue 282 – Sunday 3rd October – Saturday 9th October 2004
Following a number of packed issues of the MIS, this weeks was one of the smallest we’d had in a long time. So short in fact, that with the intro and outro it consisted of only 4 sections!
Although this was a short issue the intro was a real lengthy affair, consisting of news of some Suggs spotting at a recent Ray Davies play at The Bloomsbury Theatre, a new competition being run by Warrior Clothing, and news that North London’s MOT would be travelling to the West Country the following July, to appear at The South Cotswold Beer Festival. If the wait until July 2005 was too much for you, you could catch the band at their next gig which would take place on the 23rd of October where they would be supporting the More Specials at The Standard Music Venue.
Moving on, and we had news in, courtesy of Birchy, that 101cd.com were selling a Divine Madness and Take it or Leave it in a deluxe 2 DVD box set, and also a 2 CD box set containing Complete Madness and Utter Madness. The sets were priced at £19.99 and £8.95 respectively.
Next-up, and we passed things over to Mr. Smash who explained that he had to be careful with what information he passed on to us as Chrissy Boy got the hump if he released too many details before they appeared on the official site. However, he was able to reveal that some members of the band had already been busy writing the next pieces of original Madness material, but that we shouldn’t hold our breath as to when it would see the light of day.
15 years ago…
Issue 20 – Sunday 3rd October to Saturday 9th October 1999
The release date for `Wonderful` seemed to be getting just that bit closer as each day went by. Cathal, Bedders and a number of news bulletin’s declared that the new album would be hitting the shelves of a music store near you on Monday 25th of October, one week after the release of `Johnny The Horse`.
However, the market had to be just right before a new album hits the shelves of record stores, and so it probably came as no surprise to learn that the release date had been put back yet again. This time to the 1st of November.
It’d been a busy week for Madness with the DM signing and Camden gig on Thursday and on the 2nd the boys ventured up to Sheffield to play a selection of live tracks which were captured by Radio 2. The tracks played were: Lovestruck, Johnny The Horse, My Old Man, Drip Fed Fred, It Must be Love, and One Step Beyond.
Most of this weeks’ issue seemed to be filled with the text from just two massive articles, the first, a massive transcription from The Daily Express Magazine kindly typed-up by the one and only Iain Mason, and a lengthy blow-by-blow account of the Madness Covent Garden appearance and subsequent drunken Madmeet by Vince Foley.
MIS PRESENTS: THE MAD CHART SHOW @ HOUSE OF FUN WEEKENDER
We are thrilled to be allowed to welcome back The Inflatables to this year’s House of Fun Weekender this year. Last year the band packed a sweated out nightclub show, rocking the place with a set of Reggae covers we chose for them to perform from their wide repertoire.
This year they choose their own set list, and are fully aware it’s 35 years since Two Tone. The full MIS Presents line up includes three full live bands;
Swagga mark their second house of fun weekender, after appearing in support of the The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra two years ago. Their brand of ska hip hop is unique new take on some rude boy classics, and some originals.
Both bands are on The Specialized Mad Not Cancer album this year, so expect their cover versions in praise of this album. And if you’ve not yet bought the charity CD DJ’s Mr Scurf, and Owen Collins will be presenting short sets of a few tunes from the album during the band stage switch
Specialized (DJ Set)
Darren Jones (The Iconics)
Darren from the band The iconics rounds out the Specialized Mad Not Cancer connections in this year show, by performing his band version of “You said” to their band backing track, and maybe another track to celebrate the mad meet up at the venue organised by facebook group All things Madness.
We’ve another Darren fronting our third band and it’s Mr Fordham who you will know from the ska orchestra. His band Reece have been reformed and will join us, last playing with Madness in 1999. The band are performing some of their favourite covers, and a few originals from their song writing we hope. If you attended last years show you’d have heard Darren guesting with The inflatables so will know his powerful voice, you’ve heard him do ska, now hear the pop band.
THE MAD CHART SHOW
The modern pop charts, are constantly aimed at by campaigning facebook pages to propel The Prince back to the top, but why? It would have to mixed with such terrible neighbours. We examine the durth of Modern hit chart pop music, and then run away into an old online tradition of choosing a chart filled with just our favourite Madness songs. (The top 40 of which we’ve been compiling all year long from fans opinions) Voting is now at this stage here….
Ending in October.
The results will be in a future MIS edition, and announced live on stage at this House of fun event. (And the big one 3)
With a little help form parody act Get Giro Spend Giro Sleep, there are a few disguised modern hits, some Madness related songs, couple of rarities and some of the terrible neighbours Madness shared a chart with back in the 80’s too, all wrapped up in chart rundown way. Our Theme tune mix of whole lotta love CCS Vs Madness Let’s Go (Remix) will be played for the first time.
Oh, and if we can find a screwdriver in time, there is Ron: The Drum Machine (Ex Madness) More on his story in a forthcoming issue.
MIS FEATURE – PAUL RODGERS REVIEWS ONE STEP BEYOND 35th CD/DVD
After delivering two albums of entirely new material in the last five years, which both charted strongly and sold around the 100,000 mark each in the UK it is time once again to shift attention to the band’s birth period. October 2014 marks 35 years since Madness first burst onto the album charts with their energetic and effervescent debut ‘One Step Beyond…’. Despite the band continuing to produce new material, much of which has become firm favourites live, ‘One Step Beyond…’ still provides the strong spine on which Madness’ gigs are based. Pretty much any Madness gig you attend will include the singles ‘One Step Beyond…’, ‘My Girl’, ‘Night Boat To Cairo’ and ‘The Prince’.
Album track and B side ‘Madness’ will be there in the encores. As well as these many gigs include crowd favourite ‘Bed And Breakfast Man’ and ‘Swan Lake’. Even the seemingly throwaway fun of ‘Tarzan’s Nuts’ returned to the set, for a while, not too long ago. Lee Thompson and Chrissy Boy shared the vocal duties on it. Razor Blade Alley and Land Of Hope And Glory are occasionally played and the Saturday night of the 2013 House Of Fun Weekender in Minehead saw a one off performance of ‘In The Middle Of The Night’, complete with a washing line of knickers that had been gathered from consenting fans over the previous 24 hours!
It is safe, therefore, to assume that fan interest in this debut album has remained strong. This means the album is ripe for regular reissue treatment. The last reissue was in 2009, marking its 30th birthday and gathered B sides and radio sessions from the time to make a strong two CD set.
An oft quoted life expectancy in the UK is “three score years and ten”. ‘One Step Beyond…’ is now half that age so it’s time for another reissue… This time there’s one CD and a DVD. The CD has 29 tracks and the DVD has 10 items, including the four promo videos that were shot by Stiff records in 1979 and 1980. There are also three Top Of The Pops performances (although there are more in the vaults from this era) and two from the Old Grey Whistle Test. The BBC archives are also raided for the year 2000 BBC 2 documentary ‘Young Guns’, which featured Madness in one of its episodes on ‘80s bands.
The ‘Young Guns’ programme caught Madness at a turning point in their career, shortly after ‘Wonderful’, their first album following reformation, had done ok, but no more. It’s a very watchable programme and features one or two telling quotes that show the process that led Madness to split the first time in 1986. The Top Of The Pops and OGWT clips are a welcome replacement for grainy old VHS footage that many of us have had for years. However many will complain that all of their in studio performances up to and including Night Boat To Cairo should have been included. Never a band to simply stand and mime to camera, each performance was unique. An opportunity has been slightly missed here, especially as the DVD running time of 54 minutes in no way pushes the capacity limit of the medium. I doubt many people who want to see Madness’ promo videos haven’t got them in some form or other by now. Here they are simply filler.
The CD features a re-master of the original album by Tim Turan of Turan Audio from the original master tapes. Quoted on Facebook he comments: “track 11 “Swan Lake”. The original sound from the master tape is very trebly and harsh in the upper mid range. Giving it some fat bottom end and overall valve warmth.”. As with most re-masters there will likely be 4 main camps: It’s better, it’s worse, I can’t tell the difference and I don’t care I just want the songs.
I’m not going to show my hand as I only have my PC and a car CD player to listen on. Those with better quality listening equipment will be far better placed than me to comment on sound quality.
For many the real interest will start at track 16, which is where a segment subtitled ‘Fab Toones’ commences. Allegedly compiled from an old c90 cassette tape found in band member Bedders’ loft, 14 tracks are presented here that capture a nascent Madness in rehearsal on 28 April 1979. The band is a six piece. Chas is not included at this stage, but the six members whose ‘Nutty Train’ pose formed such an iconic cover image are present and correct. Memorabilia in the new CD’s booklet suggest the original tape captured twenty songs. What happened to the other six songs is not known by this writer, but I’ll concern myself with what’s here rather than mourning what’s omitted. NB at least one of them has been given away free on Madness’ official website.
The rehearsal commences with ‘Nutty Sounds’ and ‘Mistakes’, neither of which featured on the original album, but they would both appear on the 12” of the ‘One Step Beyond…’ single (with the former re-titled ‘The Nutty Theme’). ‘Mistakes’ was the main B side of the 7” single and has long been cited by members of Madness as one of the earliest tracks they wrote. In fact it was a co-write between keyboardist Mike Barson and John Hasler, who would be Madness’ Pete Best were it not for the fact that he has been immortalised in song (more on that later) and remains part of the extended ‘Madness Family’. He played himself in their film ‘Take It Or Leave It’, made the occasional TV appearance and turns up on stage at some gigs or is introduced to the crowd and put under the spotlight at others. Drummer, singer, writer, manager, loafer. Call him what you will Mr Hasler was very influential in getting Madness off the ground, not least because ‘Mistakes’ pretty much contains the entire blueprint and manifesto for Madness’ career, with its reflective lyric over Barson’s part fairground part ‘Monster Mash’ tune. ‘Nutty Sounds’ features solos by Bedders, Lee, Mike and Chrissy Boy. For me CB steals the show with work that would become his sonic calling card down the years.
The next song is where the fun really begins… the film I referred to in my last paragraph includes a scene where an early rehearsal is recreated. The band are rehearsing a song called ‘Sunshine Voice’, which is interrupted when Barson’s girlfriend arrives. Those thirty seconds was for years all most fans had of this legendary lost song. It was teased in the artwork for the first compilation album ‘Complete Madness’. Now for the first time we get to hear the band doing a full run through of it at this rehearsal. It’s a joy, it really is. How this song was overlooked when it came to B sides, let alone as an album cut is a mystery to this listener. I guess its face never quite fitted, which is a shame and a blessing as it means we get something entirely new here. The extended interplay between Chrissy Boy’s guitar and Mike’s piano is something that is highly enjoyable. When Madness pushed in a ska direction this ingredient was largely lost to their menu.
The rehearsal continues with the familiar ‘My Girl’ presented in a largely unfamiliar way. As late as 6 months before releasing their debut album four of Madness’ six members would take turns on lead vocals on particular songs. Whether this was because the individuals preferred it this way or because Suggs had a habit of going to watch Chelsea instead of rehearsing is not known, but on this rendition Mike Barson handled the vocal.
The next song in what was fast becoming the “I’ve been dumped by my girl” segment of the rehearsal is ‘Memories’. This is notable because it would not surface in recorded form until being used as the B side to ‘Grey Day’ another two years down the line.
The spurned lover theme continues with a run through ‘Believe Me’ (the second of these songs to make the album cut), which is one of the more completed songs. The arrangement is very similar to the recorded version on the original album. A cynic might suggest that ‘Believe Me’ made the album because it mentions Christmas and Christmas was a little over two months away when ‘One Step Beyond…’ was released. I don’t know if that cynic would be correct, but I do know that Madness were on Stiff Records and Stiff Records was run by Dave Robinson. You make your own minds up dear reader.
I wonder if ‘Sunshine Voice’ was lost because at this point there were three other ‘relationship’ songs ahead of it? Then at the very point of Madness’ career where it would have fitted perfectly with their sound ‘It Must Be Love’ came along and elbowed it out of the way. By then Madness had enough confident songwriters and felt no need to include a contribution from Hasler so long after he’d left. Again I’m typing out loud…
Next up is another totally lost song: ‘Lost My Head’. This is a curio, being an early co-write between Barson and Suggs. It’s a largely forgettable bit of fluff. Probably too similar to ‘The Nutty Theme’ for inclusion at the time. One small point of interest is that it’s main rhythmic motif is repeated in the piano only intro of ‘Razor Blade Alley’, which follows on the tape and this CD.
Next up is the Lee Thompson interlude of Razor Blade Alley and Land Of Hope And Glory, which sees Lee handling the lead vocal as he did on the album and continues to do so whenever the songs are played live. Razor Blade Alley in particular stands out to my ears (as it did on Christmas day 1979 when I first heard the album) as an attention grabbing song. Don’t get me wrong I loved Suggs’ vocals on the singles and the majority of their recorded works, but Mr Thompson’s vocal and lyrical contributions created characters that came to life a little more than when Suggs’ was narrating.
The Mark Bedford written ‘Mummy’s Boy’ appears to be the same as would go on the album until its last minute or so. The album version’s ‘knickers, knackers, knockers’ ending replaced the very different arrangement presented here. That said it is one of their earliest self penned songs to include a middle 8 of sorts.
A big highlight is ‘In The Middle Of The Night’. All verse, no chorus it is very cluttered in this arrangement. It’s highly enjoyable, but I’m glad Clive Langer got his claws into it. Sitting here listening to this has reminded me of ‘Circus Freaks’ on Madness’ 2012 album ‘Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da’, which has a very similar structure that always sounded too busy and cluttered to my ears. Perhaps Langer could have sorted that one out too? It’s funny because very often people assume the producer adds stuff to a recording or arrangement. Langer was instrumental (geddit?) in removing the unnecessary and allowing the songs to live and breathe on their own.
Next up is a track that many will fail to recognise from its intro, which is a cacophony of organ fuzz and drum fills that about as far as it could be from the clean, crisp and tidy version that would appear on ‘Absolutely’ eighteen months later. If you remove the vocal this sounds more like an XTC song than Madness! The organ breaks put me in mind of Barry Andrews’ schizophrenic noodling on ‘Drums And Wires’ and Woody’s drumming is very Terry Chambers. I wonder if this was why XTC’s main songwriter and singer described Madness as the “prog two tone ska band”. I apologise for paraphrasing there, but I am assured he made the comment. Anyway the main point is that this sound didn’t fit for ‘One Step Beyond…’ but with small adjustments it was perfect for the follow up a year and a bit later. The title? ‘You Said’. So despite not yet being ready to record their debut album they were well on their way to discovering the sound that would make ‘Absolutely’ a decent step forward.
‘Stepping Into Line’ is another that didn’t make the cut for ‘One Step Beyond…’, but surfaced on the b side of ‘My Girl’. The original single had this as being composed by Hasler/McPherson/Foreman. Here it is credited to Suggs and Bedders (as per Suggs’ handwritten tracklist). Someone has it wrong. This is an area where USM’s reissues have lacked quality control. If the original credit on the Stiff release was wrong it wouldn’t be too much trouble to mention in the sleeve note that a correction has been made. As it is I’ll look at it and think “that’s wrong, I wonder what else is?”. In this incarnation the band sounds very like The Specials, which is obviously no bad thing. Chrissy Boy was playing much more complicated lead guitar at this time.
And so back to the original loafer, John Hasler and ‘Bed And Breakfast Man’, the song which has given him immortality in his own lifetime. Some years ago the band’s official website released a live version of this song from a very early gig as a Christmas present. The rumours were true, Chrissy Boy Foreman used to sing the lead vocal on this. Badly. Very badly. On this rehearsal tape, not only is Chrissy Boy on vocals, but Suggs is ‘playing’ the guitar. Chris reckons he tuned the guitar such that Suggs should have been able to play the song on one string. This was clearly beyond Suggs as the song falls apart midway through! Perhaps he should have put lead in Suggs’ boots as a wander too near the amps results in a burst of unwanted feedback which brings the song to a premature conclusion. And here we hear the presence of another of the ingredients that have seen Madness endure for so many years. They get through the song by the seat of their pants, Chris’ vocals can best be described as ‘truly terrible’ especially when the band makes a key change late on. Suggs’ guitar is laughable and the argument the band have mid-song would be an ever present factor in a band formed of a bunch of mates who got together with another couple of mates to form a band. No real auditions, if you could vaguely play an instrument and you knew another of the band you were in.
So there we have it. Six months before ‘One Step Beyond…’ was released there was no ‘One Step Beyond…’, ‘The Prince’,’ Night Boat To Cairo’, ‘Tarzan’s Nuts’ being rehearsed. Basically they were concentrating more on the rock and roll and soul side to their sound. I can only guess that a combination of Jerry Dammers and Clive Langer changed all that and made ‘One Step Beyond…’ the brilliant debut album it is. Was ‘Bed And Breakfast Man’ lauded as a potential single (with a video made) before ‘Night Boat To Cairo’ came to the party and pushed it down the pecking order? We may never know.
There are a few things the listener will need to be aware of: this was recorded live at a rehearsal onto a c90 cassette. As far as I know there were no overdubs, it certainly doesn’t sound like it. This means the quality is only as good as the band playing the songs were at the time. And then it is only as good as one would expect from a c90 that is 35 years old (assuming it was new when used for this recording). So please don’t expect clean, nicely produced sound. What you get is rough and ready just as Madness were back then. The sound may be a downside, but is far outweighed by the upside of two totally lost songs being included (even if Lost My Head is not great- hey that’s why it was dropped probably), familiar songs with different singers and arrangements of songs which went on the back-burner for a couple of years before re-emerging when the time was right.
This is a fascinating insight into the band learning as they went. Having not signed to a major label they weren’t able to afford to rehearse in decent premises with decent recording equipment and an engineer. This is the ultimate definition of WYHIWYG, here meaning what you hear is what you get.
By turns it’s brilliant, it’s rubbish. It’s dynamic , it’s plodding. It’s worth buying and a fantastic addition to the biggest or smallest Madness collection. To put it into perspective imagine a mate has just slipped you a tape or a CDr or some MP3s of Madness rehearsing in 1979. You’d be well happy. And with this official release you don’t have to keep shtum!
This is a very worthwhile reissue. Enjoy.
SPECIALIZED – GET SPECIALIZED EP
Have just heard the demo of the brand new Specialized anthem “Get Specialized” by Nick Welsh (King Hammond/Bad Manners/Selecter) / Roddy Radiation (The Specials/Skabilly Rebels/) and Jake Burns (Stiff Little Fingers) and other musos that will be recorded fully in Coventry by legendary producer Roger Lomas on Monday.
The track will be on a new CD EP available at The Big One 3 to start with then on general release after.
That’s almost it for this week’s issue of the MIS. If you want more you may want to check out this article from The Guardian web site, that they published yesterday;
Also, don’t forget to vote for your top 40 Madness songs and do your bit for the Teenage Cancer Trust charity;
Until next week, take care,
(With special thanks to Daren West and Paul Rodgers)