Here we are with our final issue of 2020, and what a year it’s been.
This time 12 months ago we were reporting on the band’s three night stint at the Camden Roundhouse in London, which was the climax to a year of 40th anniversary celebrations. Now it’s more of a look to 2021 and the hope that things will improve for everyone.
Going back through the MIS archives for the past year, and we can see that it was the Dubai gig, originally planned to take place on the 5th March that was the first Madness concert casualty of the pandemic. Little did we know that although further gigs would be added to the line-up for this year all would be cancelled or moved to 2021. Possibly the biggest disappointment was the re-scheduling of the US tour to 2021 as we know how infrequently the band tour the States.
UK fans were also teased with the possibility of an end of year arena tour with the one and only Squeeze as the support act. We understand that publicity photographs for the tour were shot prior to the nation going into lockdown, but sadly due to the pandemic the tour failed to take place.
Towards the end of January Lee could be seen on the BBC TV quiz show “Pointless” while Suggs and Fatboy Slim teamed up to board an ice cream van and give away 100 tickets to the Hi-Tide Festival which was due to take place in Margate in July. (Due to the COVID pandemic this has been moved to 4th July 2021).
By May, the lockdown was beginning to take its toll with numerous businesses struggling to make ends meet. One of these was non other than The Dublin Castle, which started a fundraiser to raise much needed monies to keep the famous watering hole and music venue going until restrictions were lifted. The Madchat team and Facebook members rallied around to support the DC by holding a fundraising auction which sold off all kinds of Madness and Madness related goodies in an effort to keep the pub running. It was really nice to see the community coming together.
At the start of June fans were treated to a two hour Zoom session with Chris Foreman, streaming live from his home. Fans were able to ask many questions, and those in attendance were even treated to the delights of Mr. Foreman’s automatic loft ladder (you had to be there!). Chris hosted a second session a week or so later, with special guest Mark Bedford. Mark was on hand to answer further fan questions, and it was great to see the two of them regaling us with stories from years gone by.
Chris and Mark weren’t the only members of the band giving something back to the fans during June as Suggs and Mike, accompanied by a four-piece string section hosted “Two Mad Men and a String Quartet”. The session was a short set with banter between songs, plus two new tracks aired; Theatre of the absurd and All the president’s men.
Lee meanwhile, made the most of his time at home by uploading a saxophone video tutorial, and around the same time gave an interview with Barnet Radio while self isolating.
The Madstore continued to tempt us over the past year, not only with discounts dotted at various points, but also with new additions to the stock line-up. It was especially nice to see some classic designs receive a re-issue, especially our favourite the “ransom note” T-shirt which spelled out “Madness” using lettering from various products.
Online, and the excellent Seven Ragged Men web site (http://sevenraggedmen.com) continued to be updated. Advertised as “Madness in their own words”, this is one web site you could easily spend hours just reading through the fantastic quotes pulled from down the years.
In August the Stateside Madness web site branched out from their web site by launching their very own podcast. Hosted by Laurie and Poly, we were told that it was “the American-accented take on the nuttiest sound around”.
Into September, we went, and on the 11th we received the sad news that the legendary Toots Hibbert, frontman of the legendary “Toots and the Maytals”, passed away at the age of 77.
Madness fans were clearly upset at learning the news, with many either re-posting obituaries or detailing the occasions they were lucky enough to catch him performing in the UK.
In mid September the Sky Arts channel came to our aid by screening an evening of Madness and Madness related programs. For those of you who missed it, we were first treated to “Madness, Before and After”; a documentary celebrating the 40th anniversary of the band. The program captured three performances at The Roundhouse in Camden and another at the Electric Ballroom. Music was interspersed with interviews and snippets from the rehearsal sessions. The whole production was really well put together and well worth a watch.
In anticipation of the screening Madness fan Adam Nicholls hit the nail on the head when he commented “Hyped for the first Madness ‘gig’ of the year on Sky Arts. Truly the closest any of of us will get this year sadly”.
Following this, Sky Arts screened the Lee Thompson documentary “One Man’s Madness”; an amusing look at the life of a certain saxophonist. Very amusing and perfect Saturday night viewing fodder.
Chrissy Boy returned to Zoom in November, and in place of the cancelled House of Fun Weekender, took part in another two hour online question and answer session.
Along with Chris, our thanks also went to to Steve Jacob with Owen Collins, plus Leah Rix and others who hosted four fan Zoom calls for “MIS Presents” to chat HOF memories. Chris attended the full Saturday afternoon Zoom, even treating fans to the news that Madness has purchased a rehearsal space and had been working on a streaming concert idea that included new songs.
We were then treated via a prompt from Lee Thompson, to hear a new demo version of a 1986 unreleased song “It’s for the best”. The Barso-leaving Madness tune had been heard only through leaked demos previously from the 80s. But now Lee and Chris had a new demo structured between them ready to be considered for the next album!
And finally, how could we forget Nick Woodgate and his JoJo Man Band? Nick continually released material throughout the year, ranging from albums to singles and videos which were all free to stream. Thanks for keeping us topped-up with new music, Nick!
So, that brings us to the end of the year. It’s been an interesting one, and not necessarily for the right reasons, but there have certainly been many high points throughout the twelve months.
Hopefully the gig bookings will fare better in 2021 and that we can finally see our favourite band in person once again. Keep those fingers crossed!
Description (from Lee!): It starts with my humble beginnings in NW5, on to petty criminality in N6, then onto the wide open spaces of 681, Hitchin Road, Stopsley, Luton and all the Shenanigans in between.
And Parking up on that mental bus – The 2Tone Tour in October of 1979, the first 22 Years.
Further items have now been added to the web site including the classic “ransom note” one from 1992 which spells “Madness” by using lettering from various famous logos, and a lovely “Wings of a Dove” t-shirt.
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 868 – Sunday 27th December 15 to Saturday 2nd January 16
“Seasons greetings to you all” announced the intro to this weeks’ issue.
Over the previous month or so we’s seen Facebook posts from countless fans reporting that they’d been unable to get their hands on the Madness double ale and pint sleeve box set. The main stockist, BHS, (remember them?) seemed to have completely sold out.
On Christmas day the Facebook posts couldn’t have been more different. This time Facebook feeds were filled with people taking photos of their prized beer and glass sets that their loved ones have bought them for Christmas.
Here at the MIS we’d always felt the price was a little steep for two pints and a glass, but regardless, the package did look nice, and would make a nice addition to the collection of any discerning Madness fan.
Continuing on a Christmas note, and we reported that while on a recent trip to New York Lee, with help from his wife and a selfie stick, had filmed the Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra video to “Baby It’s Cold Outside”.
Lee told us; “This is the most Cost Effective and environmentally friendly clip I’ve ever attempted. I was hoping to include the gathering of John Lennon fans that were over at ‘Strawberry Fields’ in Central Pk. on 8th Dec filmed (It was the 35 anniversary of his assassination) very touching scenes, but It was too late. Well, at least my son has been enlightened”.
As the single was now on sale our regular “Buy it” section pointed you in the direction of where you could purchase it from. As if you’d not spent enough in the run-up to Christmas!
Moving on, and in “Sign of the Times” we gave you the lowdown on the dramatised version of Suggs’ “One Man Show” which was now available to stream via the BBC iPlayer. Weighing in at 45 minutes, this had originally been aired on BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Eve.
Also in this section we included a nice link to an interview with Prince Buster. If you wanted to read more about the man who inspired the first Madness single then this was a good place to start.
Next, it was on to our “MIS Feature”, where this week we reported on the song “Soul Denying”, which made its Madness stage debut at the recent House of Fun Friday Mumbo Jumbo concert.
The song had been sound-checked in 1996, at Madstock the third, and did reach more public ears via spin off band “Mr Wheeze” that managed one gig with Thommo and Barso working solo together in 1999.
In the early 2000’s Lee added the songs lyrics to his page on the old red flash version of Madness.co.uk. We felt it was time to dig them out again from an old issue of the MIS and re-print them for your reading pleasure now that the song had been aired more recently.
10 years ago…
Issue Number 607 – Sunday 26th December ‘10 – Saturday 1st January ‘11
We’d taken a break from stuffing our faces and drinking, and had quickly knocked-up this week’s edition of the MIS for your reading pleasure. It may have been Boxing Day in the UK, but the MIS team were still hard at work.
Jon had been speaking to one Chris Gorman, conductor of the Washington Welfare Brass Band. What did this have to do with Madness? Well, this was the band that performed with Madness back in 1983, when they appeared on The Tube. The tune? Primrose Hill, of course! Chris was kind enough to recall his memories of that day for the MIS readerbase, and it made for a fascinating read.
A few weeks later the Washington Welfare Brass Band were contacted again, and this time they were being asked to support Madness in Brighton.
“A couple of weeks later, Matthew Stumpzt rang me up and asked if we could back Madness again, this time at Brighton. We said Yes, but didn’t realize that I only had a few days to try and raise the same players.
I contacted George Rowell, the Director of the Brass Band, and he sorted me out with about £600.00 to buy some return rail tickets from Newcastle to London Kings Cross for 15 players. We all met early Saturday morning at the Railway Station and by lunchtime were standing outside of Kings Cross Station on the concourse waiting for someone or anyone to notice 15 Brass players complete with instruments and suitcases looking lost. After about ten minutes, a coach pulled up and the driver jumped out. “Washington Band mate!”, he shouts. “Yes, that’s us”, we replied. Once the gear was stowed away, we set off down to Brighton.
We arrived at Brighton I think by about 4pm and everybody was allocated a bedroom in the Hotel. After a wash and clean up, we made our way to the Brighton Conference Centre to meet the group again and discuss arrangements for a quick rehearsal and sound check.
I didn’t find out until I got to the centre, that someone else would be conducting, which left me without an instrument as I hadn’t brought mine with me (I usually play Euphonium/Trombone/Tuba), so Dick Cuthel gave me one of his Trumpets, and I played that night instead of conducting”.
On to gig reviews, and it was over to Tony Stratton and Madboo, who were both kind enough to send in their write-ups of the recent Brighton Centre gig, which took place on the 15th of December.
Both Tony and Madboo also attended the aftershow party, and it was here that Lee was spotted covering his head with hair from female fans and posing for photos, much to the amusement of those present.
Moving on, and co-editor Jonathan Young took you on a ride through the Easter Eggs of the Gogglebox box set. Before explaining what the surprises were and how you went about finding them, Jonathan printed a spoiler stating “The fun is in the hunt so only read this thread if you really want to know in advance, or want to check if you’ve found them..”
We brought this issue to a close with a Christmas message from the band, and a link to 13 live tracks from the recent tour for you to download. We were also told to look out for a big announcement coming very soon.
15 years ago…
347 – Sunday 25th December to Saturday 31st December 2005
We started off this issue with a short apology. We were hoping that part one of our lookback of 2005 would have spanned January to June.
However, due to an influx of visitors at MIS co-ed, Jon Young’s house, it only went as far as March. We promised that if all went to plan the new year’s issue would span April to December.
On to the articles, and we started-off with a nice 3-part interview with Suggs and Mike, which appeared on Dutch web site ‘Face Culture’, on the 18th of October.
Along with a full transcript of the interview, we also linked to a number of video clips to save you the effort of reading through the text.
Next it was on to part one of our aforementioned lookback, which this week charted the highs and lows of 2005 from January to March of that year.
The first quarter highlights included the band making the long lost ‘Perfect Place’ track available for download in January, the release date of ‘The Dangermen Sessions’ being announced in February, and Chris and Emma buying up the entire unsold ‘Our House’ stock in March.
Moving on, and it was on with part 2 of the ‘Face Culture’ interview with Suggs and Carl, before the next article, which saw Madness making the front page of the Irish Post. Tipped off by Vince Carden, this report covered the band’s celebration of 100 years of Arlington House.
Next, we went back to the ‘Face Culture’ article, with the third and final part, and then it was on to the news that Madness had kindly given us a nice Christmas present. Available for download from their web site was the 1979 rehearsal version of the classic ‘Bed and Breakfast Man’.
We rounded off this week’s issue by passing the reigns over to the Madness Trading Ring’s Steve Bringe, who announced a Christmas Quiz for all MTR and MIS subscribers. The only rules were that you had to attempt each question, and to be in the running for the draw you had to answer at least 70% of the questions correctly. The prizes were a number of Jump Records promotional items. Thanks were also given to Paul Muscat, who helped out with a number of quiz questions.
20 years ago…
Issue number 85 – Sunday 24th December to Saturday 30th December 2000
Well, Christmas was almost upon us, and if everything had gone according to plan, you should now have had all your present shopping done and dusted. All that remained was for the Christmas celebrations to begin.
It was nice to see that someone had thought of us Madness fans out there. A certain Cathal Smyth had very kindly put together some bits and pieces for our consumption on his very own website. Once there you should have found a card and a number of gifts waiting for you to enjoy! How kind.
News just in from Simsey was that he’d finally got round to uploading a whole host of Madness related snaps he’d taken over the last few months. Currently online were pictures from the second Crunch meet, the freefall mini Madmeet, and the Badness gig that Mike, Rob W and Simsey went along to. That little lot should have kept you busy for a bit.
Finally, on a sad note. Last Tuesday saw the sad death of singer/songwriter Kirsty MaColl, who was hit by a speed boat whilst diving in Mexico. Kirsty was one of Stiff’s female artists who went on to greater fame. Those of you who were at the Ian Dury tribute back in the Summer saw her last ever live performance. A sad, sad loss.
On to the articles, and a happier note…
We kicked-off with the news that New Year’s Eve would see a special edition of karaoke show Night Fever being aired. MIS subscriber Adele Moore had been along to the recording, who revealed that she’d managed to get Suggs’ autograph and a great big sloppy kiss.
Well, whatever floated your boat.
Moving on, and it was news of an unofficial Madness project which caught our eye.
Following the recent success of the unofficial Madness rarities CD, `First Step Beyond`, Nijinski’s very own Georgie had been in touch to inform us about their next project. It is a 2-cd affair going under the name of `The Lost`. The album, we were told, would feature some choice unreleased tracks and rarities.
Fanzine news next, and subscribers to that most excellent of ska `zines, `Mad Not Mad`, would be pleased to know that the `Mad Not Mad Annual, 2001` would soon be released.
This special publication would feature generous chunks of the now extinct issues 1 and 2 (including the `Absolutely` feature and Suggs Radio 2 interview in 1998). In addition to that little lot, there would also be a selection of new items making their way into the issue.
Regular subscribers to Mad Not Mad would not automatically receive the annual as the editor, Ian Taylor told us that this would go out on an order only basis. Meaning, if you wanted a copy, you had to let Ian know.
On to 2001 now, and even though we still had a week to go before this year disappeared into nothing more than a memory, TMML subscriber Chris Mountain was already looking towards 2001 and the much talked a bout `Madness Convention`.
Chris reported at the time that;
“Trying to get a hotel to put up a boatload of drunken Madness fans for the weekend, on the cheap, is not easy! Be Patient!
If you know of any suitable hotels drop us a line.
We’ve found a few willing to do it, but alas, the places were so dirty even the rats had boiler suits on”.
If you thought you could point Chris in the right direction of a decent hotel in the Blackpool area which would accommodate a fair number of Madness fans, we asked that you dropped him a line.
We rounded off this week’s issue by apologising for the slightly smaller than usual issue, and a thank you to everyone who had helped supply material for publication over the past few weeks.
That just about brings us to the end of this final issue of the MIS for 2020.
If you’d like some extra curricular listening then you may want to check out the “Off the Beat and Track Podcast” hosted by Stu Whiffen. The latest episode features an interview with the one and only Chris Foreman.
Stu commented “I met with Chris remotely during the lockdown and we had a wonderful chat, we spoke about growing up, School, record shops, clubbing and so much more great music chat”.