This issue takes more than a little slant towards the legendary outfit Deaf School, with not one but two MIS features devoted to the band.
Deaf School don’t get all the article space to themselves, however, as we’ve an update on Lee’s One Man’s Madness movie which a large number of you helped crowd fund many months ago.
Subscriber Lynn Lawlor has been kind enough to make available the two videos she took at the recent One Man’s Madness question and answer session, and you can find links to both elsewhere in this issue.
Along with that little lot we also have the usual forthcoming gigs roundup in “Showtimes” and point out a few last minute items you may want to add to your Christmas wants list in “Buy it”.
Full House – The New Madness Best of Album – Review
Available to order now from Madness.co.uk & Pledge music. Out now!
2 CD’s and 4 LP’s make up a house full of Madness hits as the new best of reaches it’s Pledge shipping date, to be store available later too. But my house is already full of Madness Hit’s albums! is the shout of many fans that prefer a lesser milking of the back catalogue. So apart from Complete, Utter, It’s, It’s too, Divine, Divine, Divine, Heavy Hits, The Business, Our House the original songs, The incomplete digital singles collection, Total, Ultimate, Total Olympics, A Guided Tour, The Very best of, imports, The Ska Collection, The Take It or Leave It out not again soundtrack and Chris Foreman sings the hits LP, what has Full House ever done for us?
Yes, This is the best of with added CTUN & OUI OUI. Maybe it will settle pub arguments as to what counts as the singles from those last two albums now. Maybe it will start even more arguments.
So given the truth that ” Hit’s happen ” lets leave that fact to one side now, and address the fact that this isn’t Madness the complete singles. Though it nearly is. It’s 42 tracks neatly split into 21 each CD or set of LP’s. That includes the biggest singles and songs of the FULL band era on Full House part one. Then Mike leaves home. Uncle Sam starts part two which brings us up to carl-less date with the band still making great music in a house occasionally with someone who’s not home today. In fact the CD mirrors this fact slightly, a beautiful cover bulging with multiple mad men all together in our full house of fun then opens up on the CD version to reveal just Woody inside another version of the house on the inner image, where the full band are driving away in their car, and a business man runs for the buss. The Vinyl is even more stunning, housing a black and white checkered floor and an upstanding 3D pop up design of the full house cover.
Most singles are present, mostly in chronological order, of course lets not forget to say pretty much all of this music is bloody brilliant. 42 career spanning tracks does stand up very well in quality of tuneage being consistent and delightful at least 95% of the time. As a best of it really does give a very long and satisfying listen. Certainly for the general music listener who is often the consideration with these things.
Lets nitpick this apart then, fans size-ably probably wanted a complete chronological singles collection. Where does this house fall down? Missing is “Sorry” (perhaps a blessing!) Live Harder They Come (It’s self a live oddity in the UK singles line) Sweetest Girl (Maligned not Mad) and most Scandalously perhaps Shame and Scandal being out leaves only a Girl to represent the danger covers, a shame that. These tunes feeling a little less than Full Madness be it for live, production sound or reasons of writing or reaction perhaps ultimate explains why this album is aiming to slightly distance its self from being The Full Singles Collection and instead live next door to that idea.
There are other arguments of omission like double A sides, Herbert’s or promoted tracks or pressings of various kind’s. Consider too many of those and you unbalance the album and overshoot the maximum CD or Vinyl time slots. I feel I would have possibly finished with slow trousers down as a Grand ending though, as version of me would have been propped up by another version of Baggy Pantalons echoing earlier days.
Fair enough then if because of things like all this, you don’t want to live here. I hope it sells well though and lands in many houses across the country. Firstly cus this music sounds great, secondly the album looks great. Paul agar once again achieve a great cover montage, using images that recall, One Step Beyond, Seven, Cant Touch us Now, Driving in my Car, Oui, Oui boxset, and some recent tours like Madhead & before. There are some neat art touches. My favourite is Lee Thompson, known for a nudey moment or two, depicted on the cover as Twickenham 1974 Michael OBrien, the famous England vs france Rugby streaker with policeman’s helmet cover up. Priceless scene stealing again! Bedders top hat chimney pop up is nice too and really sweet in the lucky dog looking up at the classic black and white photo on the inner sleeve of the boys during house of fun days, and the nod to the newly installed heritage plaque status of Madness.
Even if it’s far too standard for fans not completist enough to give a home to the hits yet yet yet yet yet yet yet yet yet again, this album’s biggest plus points (beyond looking and sounding good) is its chance to get some of the second part of Madness’s career into the homes of people only likely to listen to Divine or Total in the past.
This will bring the rare overlooked Sarah’s song and Simple Equation into the ears of even people who never saw a version of the musical and are unlikely to buy wonderful. Promote interest in Cant Touch us Now, Oui, Oui and Folgate even further, and most criminally the single Drip Fed Fred brings this Ian Dury featuring tune to the most prominent position it’s ever had. It seems crazy that despite listing so many hits albums, it’s only the poor selling Guided Tour that has ever hosted this track in a hits collection before despite being released 17 years ago. Here is a chance to get that track across again to the masses and then please bring it back for the Full house tour 2018 Christmas? You are a bonafide two CD’s hits album band now Madness. Quality 21 song sets, in two eras of Madness for the masses, music from the very best band, no wonder at gigs the house is always full.
Product description: Ladies and Gentleman, for your drinking pleasure Madness bring you one of the fines beers to ever pass your lips. An idea born in the Dublin Castle (the very pub where we played our first gigs), Madness Beers go one step beyond with flavour and style.
ABV 4.2%, Units 2.1
MIS Feature – Deaf School – Bed & Breakfast
Japan Single Review
This tune in some ways sounds like a Madness song that isn’t by Madness.
Bette Bright (Mrs Suggs) outdoes John Hasler as a topic by opening a Hearne bay Bed and Breakfast in the setting for this tune. Ostensibly, it seems because she can call it Miss BB’s B&B, which is nice pun.
She then send us an ear worm of a seaside postcard in the post, telling us to visit. This is half a Deaf School love song noir melodrama rocker of the kind that we know and love from this 70s art rock band, that once sang “what a way to end it all” and now has a new album called “lets do this again next week”. The tune is belted out from the heart by Bette who in the song is waiting for a lover to visit her accommodations…
…then the song takes us on the usual unexpected side walk that many deaf school songs take, into a completely different song down along the sea front with the other middle half of the song, where she proceeds to steal the fairground organ from house of fun, while waltzing away with that Folgate twist trick her husbands been pulling in his pantalons for some years now, and then chucks in a tiny dark nod to a Sweeny Todd in a phrase from silence of the lambs in between the candy floss stall and the local ale house, perhaps her B&B isn’t all it seems…
…before returning to the chorus of advertising her heartbreak two star motel with much passion as the waves crash in and the seagulls call and the waltz organ reprises as the epic fades away around 4 and a half minutes. All the time the list like lyrics revealing themselves often one at a time, or in pairs, its amazing construction of a tune.
Ha ha. Genius. Who needs sentences, eh!
It’s like an emotional sweeping song like Elysium meets a Folgate middle 8 and them spending Saturday night in the fun house together.
Well worth a trip to Spotify, where you can check out the album.
Next week, we will look at the UK single Top man Top, which you can also find on youtube right now.
I Remember Way Back When
This week, MIS co-editor Rob Hazelby goes back in time to report on what was going on in the world of Madness 5 years, 10 and 15 years ago this week.
5 years ago…
Issue Number 709 – Sunday 9th December – Saturday 15th December 2012
With the tour in full swing we thought that the most appropriate way to get this issue underway was with a few juicy snippets that had been sent in to us from those who’d seen the band in action.
Sharon Staite and Mark Bowen reported that Chris’ “Showtime” saw the Madness guitarist perform “Deliahla” in Cardiff, (to a Tom Jones backdrop), “Tainted Love” at Bournemouth and “Robin Hood” in Nottingham.
Meanwhile, Vicki Lee reported that the band performed “Powder Blue” as a post encore at Cardiff.
Apparently, this was something the band had considered as a post stage-leaving encore at Dublin, according to Darren Dixon. We also learned that fans didn’t really take to a low key ending of a tour gig.
Continuing on the tour, and those who’ve attended the gigs so far may have noticed that Thommos’s kilt and sax worn and played at the Olympics closing ceremony were now on display at gigs. We were reliably informed that these would then be auctioned off at the end of the tour.
Finally, the French MIS team report a Trianon gig going on sale for March 11th in Paris.
On to the articles, and we got underway with “Fordie’s House of Fun Weekender Lookback”, which proved to be a detailed review of the recent Madness weekend at Butlins Minehead.
Moving on, and we re-printed an interview with Carl, which had originally appeared in the Western Morning News ahead of the Minhead Madness Weekender.
We continued with another article re-print with a nice review of the recent Plymouth Pavilion gig originally published in the Plymouth Herald. Writer Clare Robson commented;
“Thirty something years on these boys may have exchanged their ‘nutty’ status for that of ‘national treasures’, but they proved once again they can still cut it with the best and hopefully will carry on entertaining us for many more years to come.”
The last of the transcripts in this issue (it did seem to be a transcript heavy MIS this week!) was from the Telegraph, who reviewed the band’s recent performance at the Brighton Centre. Dishing out a respectable 4 out of 5 stars, the reviewer finished by stating;
“The stage set was akin to a 1940s ballroom big band, with extra sidemen boosting Madness’s usual line-up. They kicked off the gig with multiple lighting effects, before bursting into their opener, their well-loved second single One Step Beyond. Then again, Madness have a multitude of songs that have become hearty anthems of everyday Britishness.”
We brought this issue to a close with a re-worked and Minhead Weekender tinged version of Ian Dury’s classic “Reasons to be Cheerful”. It was certainly different!
10 years ago…
Issue 449 – Sunday 9th December – Saturday 16th December 2007
With Rob back from his recent visit to Cuba, and many hours spent clearing down his bursting mailbox, he was now back up to date with everything he’d missed during his two week jaunt.
We kicked things off with a massive joint review of the recent Astoria gig, compiled by Jonathan Young, Duff Kelly, Graham Yates and Andrew Langmead
The above team not only provided us with a track by track review of the gig, but also a full track listing and other nuggets of information, too.
It was on to suit news next. Yes, you read that right. Makers of the original style tonic suit, Ace Face, were ecstatic to announce it was to be the official tailor to Madness, with the band wearing their tonic suits during their forthcoming UK tour.
Stuart Murray of Ace Face commented, “It’s a massive honour the Madness boys asked us to provide them with tonic suits. We’ve been huge Madness fans since the first day, so it’s a dream come true to see our icons wearing our suits!”
Suggs said at the time, “It’s great that Ace Face have brought such a classic back. We hadn’t seen proper tonic for decades.”
We had more reviews next, as we passed the writing baton over to Patrick Murphy, who put together a wonderfully written review of his recent visit to the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, where the band performed on the 7th of December.
Next, it was over to the Times Online web site, where journalist Stephen Dalton had reviewed the band’s recent gig at London Astoria. The review was generally favourable, with the writer commenting that;
“Most of these forty-somethings just wanted to dance, cheer and feel 16 again. Both band and crowd may have been slow to warm up, but by the final half hour their joint momentum was unstoppable.
The whole venue roared in unison during wall-to-wall singalong anthems including House of Fun, Baggy Trousers, It Must Be Love and Night Boat to Cairo. Silly, sentimental, irresistible, tinged with teary nostalgia and beery good cheer, Madness remain the perfect Christmas band.”
We brought this issue to a close with a lengthy interview with Suggs and Carl, which originally aired on Sky News on the 2nd December. The interviewer, clearly being uninformed, asked if this was a comeback tour. Suggs quickly pointed out that the band had been back since 1992.
15 years ago…
Issue 186 – Sunday 8th December – Saturday 14th December 2002
With only a few days to go until the 2002 Christmas tour kicked off at the Newcastle Telewest Arena, news coverage of The Magnificent Seven continued to ramp-up as the date got ever closer.
According to reports in the national press The blockheads were not been able to release the proposed Christmas single “You’re the why” as Robbie Williams management had not allowed the release given that Robbie sings on it. The reason why? They didn’t want competition with Robbie’s own new single!
News reached MIS Online (via The Madness Trading Ring) earlier this week that towards the end of last month Buster Bloodvessel was discharged from hospital having made a remarkable recovery from Meningitis. Buster, never one to rest too long was recuperating at home and spending some time working on the various recording projects, he had started before falling ill, and was looking forward to the annual Bad Manners Winter Tour, which commenced on the 3rd December 2002.
With Becky Lane being lucky enough to get her mitts on the promo version of the forthcoming ‘Take it or Leave it’ DVD she was kind enough to share with the MIS readership a brief lowdown on the contents of the disc, including chapters and extra features. Whilst this still meant that the rest of us were left waiting for the film to be released, it did at least give us a taster of what we could expect to get for our hard earned cash.
The reviews continued this issue with co-editor Jonathan Young providing an in-depth look at the Our House CD which came free with the Sun newspaper, if purchased in HMV music stores. Featuring two different versions of the Our House track, and a video, this release was one for only die-hard Maddies.
MIS Feature – Update on One Man’s Madness Movie and BFI Reports
Recently, the pledge music website clarified the future release of the film in a statement…
“Hi everyone, thanks for your patience whilst we’re getting everything ready for release. The director Jeff Baynes has been working around the clock on the finishing touches for the film, creating the artwork for the DVD and making the film look and sound wonderful.
We couldn’t have made the film without your huge help so thank you.
We will very soon be manufacturing the DVD and aim for these to be dispatched late in December or in January.
Of course we’ll keep everyone up to date, and aim to have these on your doorsteps as soon as we can.”
So if lucky you will have the film by Christmas, but best not to hope for that and assume that early next year you will get your hands on the finished item. We assume those waiting on Tshirts, Badges, Photographs, Lyrics and other signed items, will be shipped at the same schedule of orders of the DVDs being processed. Lee assures they are ready under his pillow.
Before DVD production began there was special screening of One Man’s Madness at The British Film Institute in London on December 1st. There’s was a Q&A with Lee Thompson and director Jeff Baynes plus a screening of the final version of the film, which now included improvements to picture and sound, the addition of new titles and the fan bought scene. Here’s Duff Kelly Who attended…
“I made it to One Man’s Madness at BFI and finally saw the whole film on a big screen and was really impressed – it is a work mad genius and Jeff Baynes must be part director part creative part comic and part psychologist to have pulled this off so successfully.
There was lots of laughing from a very receptive audience. Dave Robinson and Clive Langer were a row up from me with small groups and they seemed to love it and their families/companions laughed heartily at each of their first on screen appearances.
Can’t wait to see it again and show my family. Lee is an amazing talent and I think he was chuffed on the night. He was laughing at it himself just sitting in a row by himself” Duff Kelly.
There was some reported heckling and Tom foolery during the Q and A proving that IF you are Thommo you can\t escape the company of fans with as much pomp and ADHD issues as the films subject matter even at the esteemed HQ of the BFI. This included Dave Robinson having his say, Burglary, Forgery, Shop Theft, Flashing and being stuck in a lift with Pam’s People being among the topics discussed, oh and occasionally the film was talked about!
Liverpool never fails to stretch open its arms when Deaf School arrive at its door.
The city’s favourite prodigals might well be, according to some, the most important group it ever spawned – after The Beatles that is.
And even though the tidal wave of global mainstream fame eluded them at the last minute (it’s complicated), Deaf School’s catalogue of songs to cherish, combined with charged live performances that go on to this day, leave one with the sense that if this is the world’s loss it is our gain.
“It’s a rock ’n’ roll cabaret with punk and pop art in its bloodstream,” observes their biographer, music writer Paul Du Noyer. “If you sat down and made them up you’d awake the next day and decide it was the weirdest dream you’d ever had. But also, perhaps, the nicest.”
Nobody doubts they are good live, but now wide awake excitements are afoot. Deaf School are not only coming home for Christmas but they have a new album out.
Let’s Do This Again Next Week, their first full-length collection of all-new material since 1978, has all the hallmarks of the indefinable, indefatigable act who, in the words of Du Noyer, became a genre unto themselves.
For years, pop music felt the ripples from the impact of Deaf School, a ramshackle ensemble who formed at Liverpool Art College with the aim of playing the 1973 Christmas dance in the canteen.
Their onstage membership often stretched into double figures, some local, some not. In the end it all boiled down to Clive (Cliff Hanger) Langer, Steve (Enrico Cadillac Jnr) Allen, Steve (Mr Average) Lindsey, Anne Martin (Bette Bright), John (Rev Max Ripple) Wood and Ian Ritchie. Never forgetting late drummer Tim Whittaker and vocalist Sam (Eric Shark) Davis.
The young band went down well, decided to make a go of it, got slicker, got smarter, were signed by Warner Bros and toured America. Success, in the words of The Rutles, was only a drum beat away. Then punk happened and Deaf School didn’t.
Fast forward 40 years and a recording that catapults you straight back again.
Let’s Do This Again Next Week, a DeLorean blast to 1977 with that Deaf School dash of timeless sophistication, was made possible with funding from millionaire superfan Neville Astley, co-creator of kids TV show Peppa Pig, who fell in love with them at a York University gig.
Perhaps being free from the shackles of the record company system (which Langer and co helped create) and any other expectation, gives it strength. This is no indulgent stash of overly smart, self conscious composition, which the best acts can fall prey to after the first peak. Frontman Allen, who co-wrote the bulk of the new material with bassist Lindsey, says they were anxious to swerve that.
“When we started writing it last year we agreed we wanted to get back to the vibe of the early quirky pop, not ‘rock’,” he told Liverpool Confidential. “The first song being Tap To Snooze which became a benchmark for the direction. I love the variety of it.”
And it’s all there, rising to the challenge of a precocious past; occasionally cautious but mostly unadulterated Deaf School: the Hopelessly Romantic (Loving You); The Rueful (The 4th Of September Street); The Unexpected (Dr Vodker); The Hints of Madness (Come On Archie!). Even John Betjeman-style whimsy is channelled (The Fabulous Miss Susan Jones). For your earworm needs, check Fantastic Fish and Top Man Top (video below), the first single to be plucked from the 11 tracks and which includes the hand of Langer.
Deaf School’s big fanbases are centred in Liverpool and London – though they do well in places like Tokyo. Gigs are a suitably rare occasion and include, in the ticket price, a rapid fire hail of magical compositions – What A Way To End It All, Nearly Moonlit Night Motel, Taxi, 2nd Honeymoon among them – underlined by melodic charisma and that enduring onstage romantic promise between Enrico Cadillac Jnr and Bette Bright at the core of Deaf School’s fluttering, beating heart. Now there is a big something new to add to the cauldron.
Before you rush off to buy the last remaining tickets for Deaf School’s Christmas Party at The Invisible Wind Factory on Saturday 9th December, or to download the album this weekend, it’s worth remembering that this is the band which unwittingly lay the seeds for the great second Mersey sound and gave the city it its musical mojo back. And look where it ended up.
That, if nothing else, has got to be worth a hug. Come ‘ere.
That’s just about it from us for this week. We’ll be back next Sunday for another issue of the MIS bulletin, but until then have a good week!