We begin this week’s edition of the MIS with news from the one and only Lee Thompson, who posted the following on his Ska Orchestra web site earlier this week…
“Dear Scorch followers,
Apologies for not getting back with NEWS on the Ska Orchestra sooner. It’s been a busy year with Madness, the One Man’s Madness mockumentry and other stuff.
Our drummer is still around but not as much I would like him to be. He is now kept busy with Van Morrison and, ironically, Madness duties. I am so proud of that boy, easy on the Red Bull Mez! Also, the unique style of Andy Neal’s guitar has now left a gaping hole in my plan for world domination by summer next, as he decided to leave the Ska Orchestra, Still a hungry rocker though.
I’m not sure what is happening with future Scorch plans. If I can find the energy to fire her back up my first port of call would be a recording studio to record some songs that were demoed some time back with Chris Foreman and hopefully have him join me in the studio for his expertise! In the mean time I’d like you to have this download of The Ska Orchestra performing at Bath’s Komedia on November 1st 2013. Enjoy. 2 more to follow from Komedia.
You can hear the track visiting the website here..
As we recently mentioned, Thommo’s film project “One Man’s Madness, A RockuMockuDocumentary”, is now live on Pledge Music
Lee Thompson’s comedy life story film, featuring multiple mad Lee performances, and starring all of Madness and many more well-known voices, is nearly complete and coming out this year. All that remains to make this possible if for you to pledge and help complete the project as planned.
Exclusive Baggy Trousers video prints now available.
Unearthed from the archives are four never before seen prints from the video shoot for the iconic Madness Baggy Trousers video, featuring Lee Thompson flying above the fields of Islip Street School.
Numbered and signed by Lee, these hand printed photographs are limited to a run of only 2…
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 696 – Sunday 9th September – Saturday 15th September 2012
We kicked off this issue with the news that Madness had been announced as being in the line-up for this year’s iTunes Festival. 30 nights of free Music from the Roundhouse in Camden town! Madness were the last act to be announced at the festival which had already started it’s month long run.
The great thing about this event was that even if you weren’t able to get along to the gig you could watch the shows live via iTunes or the iTunes Festival app.
Moving on, and it was over to Paul Rodgers for another of this beautifully researched Madness Stats, Facts and Figures articles.
The latest chart news was that last Sunday saw Madness achieve yet again three albums in the top 200. Total Madness was at number 34, Complete was down at number 153, and Ultimate Madness was bringing up the rear at number 189.
It was over to Terry Edwards next, as we reported that a new release would soon be on its way from the Near Jazz Experience. Due to hit store shelves in December, the album would be made up of various artists and be entitled “All Ready for the 25th?”.
It was off to France for our next article, as the French MIS exclusively revealed that the forthcoming Ska Orchestra, due out in early 2013 would be titled “The Benevolence of Sister Mary Ignatius.”
She was a Jamaican, a nun who opened school for boys “Alpha” in which she welcomed the likes of Rico (Rodriguez), Tommy McCook and the Skatalites many other rude boys. She taught them how to play musical instruments.
It was there that the group was formed Skatatiles that were at the origin of ska, “Skaaaaaaaaaaa”, and reggae. If there had been no Mary Ignatius there would probably have been no ska.
Next and with Suggs’ autobiography due out on the 25th of October, the man himself had put together a short trailer to promote his forthcoming book. Details here.
The trailer, set in a pub, lasted just over a minute but gave you a brief idea of just some of the content inside.
Those who looked through the contents of this issue would quickly release that much of this issue’s contents related to either the forthcoming Blackpool Madness Weekender, or the December tour.
For those not booked in for Blackpool, you’d be able to see what you’d be missing, while those who were signed up could see what the organisers had planned for them.
Rumours in from Richard over at RememberTheEighties.com revealed that the next Madness album was to be entitled “Lucky 7”. We had no further news to go on, but did state that it was likely that it would undergo a name change or two before release. Naturally, we’d keep you posted.
It was over to Graham Yates and Emma Southerby, as the two of them had reported that Suggs had been spotted appearing in commercials for food producer Birdseye.
Here’s what Graham had to say at the time;
“So here I am sat at almost midnight with a video recording of the Hells Kitchen thing being played in the background and suddenly my ears prick up to what sounds like members of Joe Public singing Our House….
I stick my head round the side of the terminal to take a peek at the tellybox ….and sure enough there is a family prancing around their kitchen singing “Our House”
Next, we passed the baton over to Jean-Pierre Boutellier of the French MIS for news of a 3rd version of The Dangermen Sessions album.
Here’s what JP had to tell us;
“Since 2005, you can find 2 French version of The Dangermen Sessions : one distributed by Warner and another distribute by Sony (same album but not same logo of the distributor)
In a few weeks, you will find a third Dangermen Session version featuring the Universal logo… V2 just sign a deal in France with Universal”
If you weren’t a mega die-hard collector this was probably something you wouldn’t be rushing out to pick up.
Vince Carden kept things running with a lengthy article for those attending the forthcoming Blackpool Weekender. We had details of how to get there, a lowdown of what was planned, and much more.
Moving on from that and we moved over to the forthcoming Christmas tour. Thanks to several helpful members of the MIS readerbase we had the full list of dates, and support information. However, the fans weren’t totally happy.
A number of people were reporting that for the O2 at least, Ticketmaster and Seetickets were charging a whopping £10 booking fee!
Chris Carter-Pegg commented;
“I agree it’s totally disgusting to have to pay £42.50 for a £32.50 ticket. I would have no problem whatsoever if this extra £10 was going to the band but merely to add to the £million bonuses of the company directors of Ticketmaster/Seetickets purely for them selling us a ticket is outrageous. In all honesty I would rather give my money to a ticket tout than line the pockets of Ticketmaster/Seetickets.”
We moved back over to the subject of the Madness Blackpool Weekender next, as Vince Carden revealed that those who were coming could get the chance to sing as lead singer with the Los Palmas 6. All you had to do was give a £25 donation to the Arlington House charity and the stage was yours.
If you wanted to take part, the tracks available to choose from were:
SUN & RAIN
ONE BETTER DAY
JOHNNY THE HORSE
TOMORROWS ANOTHER DAY
We brought this issue to a close with news that Suggs’ afternoon Virgin Radio had a new sponsor in the name of chocolate biscuit Twix.
The sponsorship included trails, embedded live editorial spotlights and an integrated online presence.
Twix would also sponsor the daily feature, The Great British Workplace Of The Day where afternoon tea goody bags which included the exclusive, much sought after ‘Suggs Mugs’, could be won to give listening workers a better tea break.
After last week’s shorter-than-usual issue, we returned with a much bigger, and bolder edition of the weekly Madness e-newsletter.
This week long-running music television programme, Top of The Pops celebrated the screening of it’s 2000th show, with The Radio Times devoting their front cover, and a number of pages to this landmark occasion. The article was of interest to Madness fans, as the one and only Suggs appeared, briefly re-telling the story of his appearance, when Chris Eubank had trouble pronouncing Suggs’ name, and his single, ‘Cecilia’.
A book – ‘Top of the Pops, 1964 to 2002’, celebrating the show was also released, in which Suggs devoted a whole self-written page in the 80’s section. He talked in length about the attitude of the producers of the day and how unprofessional the BBC thought Madness were but, at the same time they loved having Madness on the show and would do things like let them bring a car on the show to do `Driving in my Car`, something that wasn’t a regular thing.
Little would fans of the show realise that less than five years on from this date, the show would be unceremoniously axed.
Previously given a glowing thumbs-up from MIS Online, it was the turn of Ian Taylor of the Mad Not Mad fanzine, to review MOT’s “My English Garden” EP. Like us, he loved the music, and finished his review stating;
“M.O.T. are a band to keep an eye on and an ear open for. If this is their first crack of the whip then they are the stuff of legends as far as real music is concerned.
idiosyncratic and lyrical, musically adept and full of ideas – these boys aren’t the new Madness, Davies, Dury or Supergrass, they’re possibly the new version of all of them!”
Elsewhere, and news reached us (courtesy of Chris Carter-Pegg), that the cast of the Our House musical were nearing the end of their third week of rehearsals, the sets were about to go into the theatre this coming week, and everyone was excited about the show.
The only concern from one or two Madness fans was that with only a month to go before the curtain went up on the show, there were still only a small number of tiny adverts to be found locally or nationally.
With ticket sales for the forthcoming Christmas tour doing so well, it was heartening to see that a second date had been added to the London leg. The extra date would see the band finishing their tour just a few days shy of Christmas Day, on Sunday 22nd of December.
Finally, the big item of news this week was that after a massive 18 months of development, the official Madness web site finally rose from the dead. Not all sections were up and running, but the fans posted excited emails in their droves. They were just pleased that the band had finally got themselves a proper web presence once again, even if we were told we couldn’t touch the cat!
Early evening on day two of Electric Picnic and Madness frontman Suggs was struggling to make sense of it all. “Electric…Picnic?” he pondered, as the ska-pop veterans kicked off their set. “When I heard the name… I was worried”
He may not recall – but Madness also played the 2009 Picnic. They were a bit lost headlining the main stage after dark. The audience craved something tempestuous and cathartic – not the original Nutty Boys stretching their legs.
With the sun poking through and the dreaded overnight deluge yet to manifest, second time around they were far more in their element. A greatest hits performance was peppered with sardonic asides from the frontman and a few new songs (this is our most recent single – it was number one in Antarctica”).
To put it another way, Madness were giving the huge crowd exactly what it wanted – chart classics, delivered with a wink and a grin. My Girl prompted an early sing-along – while House of Fun and Baggy Trousers sparked outbreaks of ironic dancing.
Still, the band weren’t quite in “Best Of” mode. The experimental NW5 from 2009’s opinion-dividing The Liberty of Norton Folgate showcased Suggs’ obsession with his native London’s underbelly and a cover of Max Romeo’s Chase The Devil found the 10-piece communing with the ghost’s of ska music past.
Agnostics may have yawned through these segments. For fans, it was a welcome reminder that Madness continue to push forward creatively and have no interest in becoming their own covers act. A mix of familiar and the unexpected added up to an unsurpassable afternoon treat.
It didn’t even take for them to come onstage to accurately guess the reaction that Madness would get. I only had to see how many audience members were wearing fezzes. There were a lot and there is no denying Friday’s booking felt more like a standalone Madness concert than “Festival Day 1”. This was confirmed by most of the crowd knowing how to recite the entire 30-second spoken monologue opening to One Stop Beyond, word for word.
It was a brilliant clash of old classic chaos, and not quite so enticing new material from their latest album, (or “long play”, as Suggs describes it, as he often proudly referred back to 1979 between songs), but the shallow and blunt fun factor meant that it was great start-to-finish. The start of the show defined it well – opening with rumble and explosion sounds, only to goofily launch into Embarrassment. It’s to be expected of a band with a saxophonist who spent half of a song playing hoopla with a tambourine and a microphone stand.
Review – House of Common Festival, Clapham Common, London
28th August 2017
Now seemingly a Madness tradition: a party every year on Clapham Common, with a line up of dub, ska, reggae and rap, last years festival was met with lukewarm reviews, claiming Madness phoned it on their set and there was not enough else on the bill to fully impress. However, this year, they really pulled it out of the bag, with a bumper line up, all of whom put on a great show.
The weather was perfect throughout the day (the hottest August bank holiday on record apparently) and the set up and layout of the festival worked well. With two stages – the main stage and a smaller tent – there wasn’t too much choice, but both had solid lineups, and there was plenty of extra entertainment on offer, including a few fun fair rides and a kids area. The food selection was good, although a little on the expensive side, and Coca Cola were offering free cans of their newly relaunched Coke Zero all day, which kept the audience refreshed. As well as the usual merchandise, there was also a selection of Madness themed beers.
Now onto the music. The first act we caught were Hip Hop legends De La Soul. As well as the three original MCs, they had a 9 piece backing band, including a horn section. Testing the audience’s patience a little, they were 20 minutes late on stage, but more than made up for it the moment they appeared. Playing through a series of classics like ‘Eye Know’ and ‘Saturdays’, their songs were the perfect fit for the chilled out vibe and great weather. After a lengthy (but fun) introduction to the whole band, they left the stage without playing some of their biggest hits like ‘Me, Myself & I’ and ‘The Magic Number’. Whether this was because of time constraints, or they just didn’t want to play them, it was still a little disappointing; but did not ruin their set by any means.
Next up came Desmond Decker’s band The Aces. Although their band leader died in 2006, new singer Delroy Williams did a fine job playing through Decker’s hits, full of Ska and Reggae classics like ‘The Israelites’ and ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’. The crowd both young and old loved it, dancing and skanking as the afternoon wore on. After them came a bit of a change of pace, with Kent punk duo Slaves taking the stage. After a pretty relentless summer than has seen them playing seemingly every festival in the country, this was one of their final shows on the tour, and they looked like they were enjoying it a hell of a lot.
With the family atmosphere, and perhaps the fact that they had been picked to play by Madness (who lead singer Isaac acknowledged as a big influence during the set), they were more animated than ever, with guitarist Laurie constantly on the move, jumping, stomping and thrashing around the stage. We weren’t expecting mosh-pits given the seemingly older (with lots of kids as well) overall audience, but they kicked off the moment ‘White Knuckle Ride’ kicked in, and didn’t let up until the end.
Soul II Soul provided another change in tone after them, bringing dancey beats like their 1989 hit ‘Back To Life’, which they closed with. Singer Sharon Wheeler’s voice still sounded great, and the backing band were tight throughout. Putting Craig Charles (the veteran TV presenter and DJ) on next was a wise move. His small stage set up allowed the crew to quickly change things up for Madness’ more elaborate set, while also warming the crowd up with a collection of funk and soul bangers, getting the whole crowd moving.
As the sun set, Madness took to the stage, opening with ‘Embarrassment’. The crowd instantly got moving, singing along with Suggs word perfect from the start. The whole set had the feel of one big party, with friends coming out – Janet Kaye, Dawn Penn, Linton Kwesi Johnson – to perform their own tracks with Madness backing. Janet Kaye’s ‘Silly Games’ and ‘Uptown Top Ranking’ got the best reactions of the guests. With the Madness tracks themselves, this was a greatest hits set. A few newer tracks snuck their way in, and were still greeted well by the audience, but on the whole they stuck with the crowd pleasers – and it paid off.
The ending salvo of ‘One Step Beyond/Baggy Trousers/House of Fun/Our House/It Must Be Love’ just proved what a great set of singles they have. The whole band were on fine form throughout the night, especially saxophonist Lee Thompson, who spent the whole show on the move, and even took lead vocals on one track. Suggs was clearly relishing his role not only as lead singer, but also as a music hall style impresario, overseeing the whole event throughout the night. Ending with an encore of ‘Madness’ and ‘Night Boat To Cairo’, Madness proved they’ve still got it as a band, and if they continue this tradition we’ll definitely be back next year.
James Polley NEN
We had hoped we’d be featuring it in this week’s issue, but due to time constraints on our part, you’ll have to wait until next week for our review of the pop-up Nutty Bar event. Sorry about that!
Also, coming soon, we’ll be bringing you part 7 in our “Songs of the Silencerz” series.
You can now check out a video and a selection of photos from our recent visit to Islip Street School; the educational establishment where the legendary Baggy Trousers music video was filmed: