We begin this weeks’ issue of the MIS with news of another Madness vinyl re-issue which is due to be released before the end of the month. The classic album “Absolutely” will be available from the 27th November, priced at £19.99.
Released by Union Square, this 180g vinyl re-issue features new sleeve note interviews with Chris foremen & Lee Thompson. Check out our “Buy it” section for more information. The decision you now have is; do you go ahead and order it or do you add it to your Amazon wish list in the hope someone near and dear picks it up for you for Christmas.
On to this weeks’ feature, and it comes courtesy of the one and only Chris Carter-Pegg of the Retro Madness online store. If you wanted to learn more about the weird and wonderful world of unusual Madness vinyl pressings you’ll definitely want to read this!
And finally, we have details of an amazing £20 offer from Retro Madness, where you can bag yourself an absolute mountain of Madness goodies for less than a home delivery pizza order.
This album was previously available as a pop-up 4 disc gatefold LP priced at around £50. The 4-disc release is now sold out on vinyl.
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, 10, 15 and 20 years ago this week.
5 years ago…
Issue Number 860 – Sunday 1st November to Saturday 7th November 2015
We had less than three weeks to go until the 2015 Madness Weekender in Minehead was due to get underway, and judging by the number of Facebook posts we’d seen regarding the forthcoming event excitement amongst the Madness fanbase was growing and growing as each day went by.
As you’d see from our ever-shrinking Showtimes section, this was likely to be your last opportunity to catch the band before 2015 drew to a close. We just hoped that it wouldn’t be too long before the band started to announce gigs for the following year.
Earlier in the day, before this issue went out, the band took to the stage to perform at the Lions-Chiefs NFL game at London’s Wembley Arena. Naturally, we had the lowdown elsewhere in this very issue.
Moving on, and in our regular Sign of the Times section Woody spoke about his support for “Decembeard”. Our favourite drummer explained;
“This campaign and the charity, Beating Bowel Cancer, mean a lot to me as my dad, Crispian, a photographer , died from the disease in 1997. He’d been constipated for about a year but he just said ‘he was bunged up’ and continued to use laxatives. However, he’d had a fall downstairs and had slight brain damage so he wasn’t always clear in communicating and some of what he meant to say could have been lost.
When he eventually went to the doctors and was diagnosed, he was told it too late to do anything for him. He was basically sent home to die.
My younger brother, Nick, and I have been checked out every 5 years since we were 40 and I now lead a healthier lifestyle; with no drinking or smoking etc.
I’ve raised over £1000 for Decembeard in the past and I’m keen to continue raising awareness of the disease and helping to prevent people from ‘dying through embarrassment’.
I’d urge anyone to get involved with the campaign. It’s so easy and the money you raise will really help the charity to support those with bowel cancer.”
We continued on a Woody related note as we reported that on October 15th he appeared on Ireland AM television to talk about his life in music and to raise awareness of mental health issues. It was a serious interview and well conducted. We did have to point out as an aside that the researcher was a bit of a fool though. Pictures of the Ska Orchestra and tribute band One Step Behind appeared on screen in a photo montage at one point!
Next, and it was competition time as thanks to Holly Barringer and the rest of the team at BMG we had two copies of the recently released Madstock CD/DVD pack to give away. Well, one copy had already been won, but we still had that second copy up for grabs. To be in with a chance of winning it you just had to tell us “My favourite Madness song live is…”
Following this, we went over to Chris Foreman. Chris had taken a live Periscope recording from Wembley Stadium and it was all from behind the scenes. Chris could be spotted backstage, walking around the dressing room and next to the pitch.
We brought this issue to a close with the news that Madness were about to dive into rehearsals, ready for the Mumbo Jumbo set on the Friday leg of of the Madness Weekender. Meanwhile, Crunch! had already had a full rehearsal. And yes, Chrissy Boy was in the fold!
10 years ago…
Issue Number – Sunday 31st October – Saturday 6th November 2010
With a packed issue we decided to get things underway as soon as we could, and passed proceedings over to Union Square’s Holly Barringer, who reported that on the 15th November they would be releasing a collection of videos on iTunes. Entitled “Madness – The Video Collection”, this would include everything up to Wonderful, except videos pertaining to The Madness and the Mad Not Mad album.
We were also assured that older videos have been re-mastered, so that they were the best possible quality.
Some sad news next, and it was with a heavy heart that we reported that Scottish actor Gerard Kelly had died on Thursday at the age of 51.
As famous for serious gritty dramas as he was during the annual pantomime season, Kelly will be best remembered by Madness fans as the bloke from the Madness movie, TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT, who sang in an early formation of Madness in the back garden of Si Birdsall’s flat in London.
We followed this with some Ian Dury news, as we re-printed a Guardian review of the currently running Dury musical Reasons to be Cheerful. Reporter Lyn Gardner awarded the production a 3 out of 5, commenting that “… there’s a great cast and plenty to savour in a show that with more work on the script could raise the spirits higher than a course of Prozac.”.
Further sad news followed this week as The Mirror reported that reggae singer Gregory Isaacs – famed for his hit Night Nurse – died aged 59.
The Jamaican-born star had fought lung cancer for a year but had performed until just a few weeks ago. He finally lost his battle at his London home, surrounded by his family.
Book news now, and out in WHSmith’s and Waterstones from tomorrow, and available to order from Amazon now, was “The House of Fun: The Story of Madness”, from John Reed.
Jonathan Young gave us a lengthy review of the book, and brought it to a close by commenting;
“”It’s not perfect” were the authors last humble words to me in an email this week.
But that’s the point to a degree. Perfectionism having kept a big Madness history off the shelves before now. This book is extensively brilliant and more than the sum of what lead up to it. Timing wise, unlike the bullshit ending of the otherwise excellent “young guns” TV documentary, this book doesn’t have to skip so much, and finishes with some triumph of the current situation.
I think it’s, One Fine Book.”
We brought this issue to a close with a number of links detailing Madness’ recent winning of the 2010 Q Idol Award, and a final nudge for you to go out and by John Reed’s new Madness book, which had been given a 4 out of 5 in the latest issue of Record Collector magazine.
15 years ago…
Issue 339 – Sunday 30th October to Saturday 5th November 2005
We started off this week’s issue of the MIS with the news that legendary Bristol Madness tribute band 1 Step Below, had been picked by a top Las Vega music promoter to play there this coming new year’s eve!
We were told that the band would be taking to the stage of the Gold Coast Casino Hotel where they would be blasting out all the famous Madness classics to a huge Vegas audience.
Apparently, this was the first time a Bristol based group had ever played in Las Vegas, and was a massive coup for the band.
They would be joining a raft of US tribute acts and were the only British band on the bill. The music promoter who co-starred with Sting in “Quadrophenia” tracked the boys down on the internet after hearing all about their fantastic live show and the reputation of lead singer Suggsy, who’s as entertaining as the real Madness singer Suggs.
The band were now busy preparing their set for what promises to be the biggest gig of their careers.
Next-up was the news that the next must see Madness spin-off, The Camden Cowboys (starring Lee, Woody, Bedders, Kev Burdett and Nick Judd) would be taking to the stage at the Pentland Theatre, Finchley, North London. The group would be performing a selection of songs that had inspired Thommo’s 26 years in music.
As a bonus, all proceeds would be going to the Oxfam Sudan Appeal.
Moving on, and we had something a little more high-brow to report, as news had reached us of an archive of tour photos from the 80s about to go on show.
Featuring black and white shots taken by photographer Toni Tye 25 years ago, they were intended to be stills for a proposed book on 2 Tone. It would have focused on the unique scene, the kids, the skins, the fashions & the bands backstage.
The Body Snatchers, The Selecter, Madness & Bad Manners, were shot variously on location at: Hemel Hempstead, Lewisham Odeon, Electric Ballroom, Wembley, Coventry, Aylesbury, Sunderland and Shepperton between February 28th-May 3rd 1980.
The Exhibition included photos of Madness & crew backstage & many fan photos taken at gigs being filmed for “Dance Craze” movie.
The exhibition would run from the 1st to the 30th of November at The Arthouse Gallery, Brighton/Hove.
We went over to the French MIS next, as Jean-Pierre Boutellier had a mass of news snippets to pass on to ourselves and the readers.
Ranging from album and single sales to French TV appearances, it was all here.
We’d been plugging MOT for a number of years – urging you to get along and see the boys in action. Well, pleased that he’d finally made it to one of their gigs, Duff Kelly put together a massive review of the band’s recent Dublin Castle gig.
Duff finished his review by saying;
“My advice, get along and see MOT if you get the chance. It’s worth it!”
It was over to Jon Young next, who reported that Madness were booked to play at Nottingham’s Rock City on Monday 5th December. Tickets were priced at a very reasonable £25.00.
We brought this issue to a close with The Independent’s brief lookback at the legendary Stiff Records.
20 years ago…
Issue number 77 – Sunday 29th October to Saturday 4th November 2000
This issue got underway with news just in from the ever-active Wozza announcing that the Ian Dury and The Blockheads website at www.blockheads.co.uk would be back up soon with a completely new design, and “some other nice stuff”. Wozza also reported that since February the Blockheads website has notched up over 10,000 visits – impressive stuff!
Subscribers to the excellent `Ska Mad` fanzine wouldn’t have too much longer to wait until the next issue finally saw the light of day. Juliet Bulmer, Ska Mad editor, told us that if all went according to plan, you should have the a new edition coming through your mailbox before Christmas.
Some Suggs news now, and Andy Clayden reported that the great man himself was to be a guest on Mark Lamar’s Radio show entitled “A Beginners Guide to Reggae”. Andy wasn’t able to pin-point the exact date, but we were told that the show went out on Radio 2 at 9pm Wednesday evenings.
On to this week’s articles, and we stated-off with a lowdown of the all forthcoming gigs booked for Madness tribute outfit One Step Behind. With bookings made right up to October 2001, it looked like the band were in for one busy year ahead.
Following this was an article, entitled “My Best Gig”, which appeared in a recent edition of the Bristol Evening Post. In it, the author reminisced on his night seeing Madness at Leicester De Montford Hall, way back in 1982. Such was the problem with skinheads at the time, that the band refused to continue playing until they had left the building.
Next we passed things over to Madness Unsugged editor, Vince Carden, who explained why the previous issue was a Dury special, and who then followed it up with an excellent question and answer session with the one and only Lee Thompson, who also reminisced about his times spent with Mr. Dury.
With Suggs making an appearance at The French House, Soho, earlier in the week, this next article came courtesy of one Chris Carter-Pegg, who had managed (along with a couple of other Mads) to get along to see Suggs pulling pints in aid of the NSPCC.
“Not being a particularly large pub meant that there was just a pleasant number of people in attendance. Suggs’ mum was first to arrive and seemed to know quite a few of the assembled company. She was grumbling (in the nicest way) about Graham’s time keeping, that he should have been here by now, that she’d cancelled lunch with him yesterday to see him today etc. etc. The landlord asked her whether he’s actually ever on time for anything!”
Thankfully he did make an appearance, and spent his time pouring pints, taking part in interviews, and even managed to sign a few bits and pieces for Chris.
Moving on, and we had news that would no doubt be of interest to those collectors who had to have every Madness related release in their mitts. MIS subscriber emailed in to let us know that a new Madness greatest hits album, entitled “Madness – The Ultimate Collection”, was due to be released by Uni/Hip-Hop Records on the 14th of November.
We finished off this week’s MIS with news in from Scatty, who revealed that he was planning to organise the next Madness Injection weekend at Blackpool on the May Day Bank Holiday weekend 2001.
Surprise Pressings Surface From Orlake
Orlake Records (founded in 1964) with its factory / pressing plant in Dagenham, East London was the UK’s oldest independent record manufacturer. When it could continue no longer and closed for business in 2009, the specialist machinery that used to turn out more than a million records every month was sold for scrap and the factory demolished. Little did they know that if they held out for just a couple more years vinyl was set to become as popular as it ever was.
Orlake specialised in picture discs, shaped picture discs and coloured vinyl pressings. During the 80s they had the complete monopoly for picture discs which they would press for the UK market for virtually all of the worlds biggest selling music artists. The quality of their output is without question. When Stiff and Madness decided that House of Fun would be their first release to get the picture disc treatment they went to Orlake and I believe I am correct in saying that every Madness picture disc that followed, right up to What’s That (The Madness) in 1988 was pressed at Orlake.
What has struck me as being slightly surprising however is the number of test pressings, uncut shaped discs and curious miss-pressings that have also emerged from that factory. As most people by now probably know, shaped picture discs start off life as a regular 12” disc which is then cut out on a jigsaw to whatever shape is desired. The One Step Beyond shaped picture disc released on Record Store Day last year is perhaps the most familiar recent example. The 12” disc has to be transferred from one machine that presses the vinyl to another which cuts out the shape. It therefore seems very strange that at Orlake Records quite so many never made it to the jigsaw but instead to second hand record shops across the country in the years to come. How and why should this happen?
There is then the case of the picture disc test pressings, in terms of Madness, Tomorrow’s Just Another Day being the main example. As well as the familiar picture disc released for that single, the pressing plates were also used to test out the manufacture of various 7” singles of that track using a variety of different coloured vinyl. So why, when you have Stiff Records catalogue numbered ‘PBUY’ pressing plates made for the purposes of pressing a picture disc, do you also have a load of strange coloured vinyl 7”s of the track also produced? Was this something Stiff Records asked Orlake to do?
Finally you get the miss-pressings. For many of the Madness 7” picture discs you will find examples of where 2x a side pictures have been pressed back to back and the same for the b side. Again, like the items above, none of these seemed to be passed back to Stiff or Virgin for selling on the release date, instead they could be found in second hand record shops months or years later at highly inflated prices. What were these items, how did they come to exist?
Well it seems that some employees at Orlake were also very enthusiastic record collectors, particularly when it came to alternative pressings. Shaped discs were leaving the building without having been anywhere near the jigsaw machine, curious miss-pressings were popping up in second hand record shops when they probably should have ended their life in a bin for scrap.
If this was all occurring on quite a notable scale for Madness pressings, was the same thing happening for pretty much every other massive 80s artist whose picture discs they were responsible for? I have no knowledge whatsoever as to how contracts between record companies and Orlake were made, maybe they were given free reign for their employees to press and keep quirky different items? I have to say if I went to Jessops to get some photographs developed I would be a little surprised to find the Jessops employees borrowing or manipulating some of my snaps for their own purposes!
I must emphasise I have absolutely no knowledge of the arrangements made between record companies and Orlake or between Orlake bosses and their staff but it’s good to know, from what is reported in the local press for the area, that staff loved working there and I’m sure that some employees left Orlake with extremely attractive pension plans!
At 8pm tomorrow night (Monday) an auction of a multicoloured vinyl ‘test pressing’ of the Tomorrow’s Just Another Day picture disc ends on Ebay. The record shop selling it is geographically very close to the old Orlake factory, so I asked them to confirm the origin of the rare disc: “It was purchased from an Orlake ex-employee (and yes, due to our proximity to the factory, we regularly buy the record collections of ex-employees!), and we bought every single record he had. It was a large collection, but we think we’ve now listed all of it on Discogs or eBay.”
As we’re now some 35-40 years since these records were made, I think it’s amazing that ex-employees of Orlake are still finding them! I’m not seeking to make any accusations or do any finger pointing via this article, it all happened a very long time ago and I have no knowledge of the circumstances or agreements reached, I just find the whole story a very interesting one!
Tomorrow night the auction will end and a die-hard collector will have spent many hundreds of pounds on a record that has been pressed, possibly without full authorisation of Stiff Records, that will play a Madness track but looks like it’s been covered in camouflage paint, (and no it won’t be me buying it tomorrow I already have one)!
If this tale of curious Madness pressings has wetted your appetite for seeing pictures of more unusual official items or hearing similar folklore then please feel free to request membership of the group ‘Completist Madness’ on facebook.
With everyone having to tighten their belts a bit this Christmas we at Retro-Madness have decided to offer an unbeatable deal of 20x official Madness items at less than £20 including UK p&p! Our Christmas 2020 “Goodie Box” comprises 1.5kg of genuine items of Madness ephemera and memorabilia for just £19.99 delivered to your door. Postage is extra if you require delivery outside the UK.
We have put together 50 of these boxes. 25 have already found homes, so there’s 25 still waiting to be snapped up. The items date from 1981 to the present day, but all are still brand new and in perfect condition. The contents of each box is the same:
1. Lee Thompson – 10” x 6” photocard (1981)
2. Complete Madness – puppets promo poster (1982)
3. MIS fan club – 2 sheets of notepaper (1983)
4. MIS Nutty Boys Comic – Issue 10 (1984)
5. Our House the Musical – enamel badge (2002)
6. Our House the Musical – enamel keyring (2002)
7. Dirty Shirt / Baggy Trousers – Small T shirt (2003)
8. Our House – Small polo shirt (2003)
9. Forests Tour – unused ticket (2005)
10. Hackney Empire – programme / poster (2007)
11. Our House Musical Tour – rubber keyring (2008)