Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of the MIS Online weekly newsletter.
With the start of Suggs’ CNUT tour and My Life Story cinema screening and DVD launch getting ever closer, it may come as little surprise to learn that a large chunk of this issue is devoted to our favourite front man.
If this doesn’t interest you then perhaps additions to forthcoming Deaf School or Silencerz gig listings may be more up your street.
Our feature this week is a review of the new Skapones single.
There’s a lot to get through, so let’s get the issue underway!
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 latest in a long line of “best ofs”. It’s 42 tracks neatly split into 21 on 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.
Suggs “My Life Story”, DVD Pre-Order ** New **
Release date 2nd March
Director Julien Temple (The Great Rock n Roll Swindle, Absolute Beginners) takes a stage show, adds some drama, archive, animation and music, then shakes it all up for MY LIFE STORY where Suggs, takes a hilarious, yet moving, look back at his life in a musical form.
Is it a drama? Is it a comedy? Or a music hall dream? Whatever it is hold on to your seats as Suggs goes on to stumble and plummet through the trap door of failure; then trampoline back up to catch the passing trapeze of show business success.
MIS Feature – The Skapones – Crade to the Grave Single Review
Our own Paul Williams brings out a ska single tomorrow, in the form of The Skapones’ debut self-penned track “Cradle to Grave”. It’s available from iTunes from the 15th January and is aiming to make an impact on the reggae charts. This is followed by a launch party gig for a vinyl release of the track (backed with Big Fat Panda’s track “Home Street Home” on the other A side) on February 9th at the forum in Darlington.
“Unashamedly 2tone” is how Paul sums up the track, and we’d be hard pushed to disagree or sum it up any neater than that. It’s Ska, it’s punk powered, English accented. It’s got guitar twang Roddy might be proud of or keys Barso might have happily tinkled along in the mode of back in the day. It’s well produced, upbeat and passionate play of a very familiar sound. It’s message is a fandom of 2tone worn heart on sleeve and loved Cradle to Grave. From mentions of Toots and Buster, and 2tone within its lyrics like The Prince before it or Gangsters even its a debut single nodding back to where the inspiration began to make this music (near 40 years on). Therefore a fitting place to start their band’s catalogue with appeal to many enduring ska fans who agree and/or feel the same about this music themselves, like the thousand or so floor dancers who enthused their support slot at The House of Fun last November.
This is the title track of a coming debut album that will hopefully widen the scope of the band. It certainly seems it will from the songs I’ve heard live, and may it champion a place in your car stereo or iPod, but in your mind might instead take you back to the first excitement of Top of pops, radio play of needle on vinyl 1979 of black and white sleeved 45’s and LP’s for as long a music lives in you.
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 714 – Sunday 13th January – Saturday 19th January 2013
This issue opened with some rather sad news regarding Blockhead Wilko Johnson.
We were informed that Wilko had been recently diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas, and that he had opted not to receive any chemotherapy.
Thankfully, Wilko battled through tremendous odds, and came out the other side. At the time, things seemed extremely bleak.
On a happier note, we were pleased to report that “Never Knew Your Name” had entered the A playlist on BBC Radio 2. This made it the band’s biggest airplay hit since 1999’s “Lovestruck”!
We also took time to raise a glass to Suggs, as on the date this issue went out it was his 52nd birthday.
On to the articles, and it was over to the Sky Sports web site, where Woody was picking his dream five-a-side football team. The team consisted of Pter Cech, John Terry, Juan Mata, Andrea Pirlo (as the captain) and Lionel Messi.
Next, we went over to Suggs, who was guest on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live Show. Suggs talked about Madness’ Year, including the Tommy Cooper joke with the Queen, saying he stopped short of putting a tea bag in her pocket and saying “have a drink on me”, which is something Tommy Cooper did.
We went back to the subject of football for the next article as Woody spoke in length about Madness and numerous things relating to the beautiful game. If you weren’t into football then this was one article you’d likely have either skipped or just skimmed through.
It was over to France next, as news in from Jean-Pierre Boutellier of the French MIS team revealed that additional bonus tracks would be appearing on the French release of the Oui, Our album. The two extra tracks were Crying (live) and Death of a Rude Boy (remix).
In magazine news, we reported that the band appeared in the December issue of French magazine Les In Rocks, as well as in a video on their web site. In the video Woody, Carl and Suggs sang songs about Dream Tobacco & Celery (The former a Stiff Records Max Wall number, the latter a Chelsea football chant! It’s fair to say the boys were in fine voice and a bit Merry).
We also featured a translation of the magazine articles for those unable to read French and/or get hold of the magazine.
Further on in the issue we passed the baton over to Paul Rodgers, who explained that the Never Knew Your Name single had appeared on Radio 2’s A playlist and Absolute Radio’s B playlist.
If that wasn’t enough for your stat-craving minds, Paul was even kind enough to report on the total number of airplays for My Girl 2 and Never Knew Your Name.
Following this, we went over to gig news, as we revealed that Madness would be returning to Haydock Racecourse in the summer. The band only got as far as their hotel rooms the previous year as heavy rains meant the gig itself was cancelled.
We brought this issue a close with the news that Madness would be appearing on the next edition of the Jonathan Ross TV show. The promotional blurb read;
“Jonathan welcomes more big names, including Strictly Come Dancing runner-up Kimberley Walsh from Girls Aloud. Music legends Madness chat and perform live.”
10 years ago…
Issue 454 – Sunday 13th January to Saturday 19th January 2008
This one was a bit of a landmark for us, as we were pleased to announce that from this issue the MIS team had grown to four, with the addition of Lee “Loobyloo” Buckley, who had joined the MIS fold.
As Looby was easing herself into the new role we asked that you were gentle with her whilst she found her feet. With three people now producing the MIS editorial content, and Simon continuing to maintain the web site we hoped that this would mean that the quality and content of the weekly bulletins would improve still further.
This week had been a busy one for Madness. On Tuesday the band journeyed down to the West Country town of Bridgewater to perform a fundraising gig in front of a small crowd of 800 locals, who initially thought they were buying tickets for a Madness tribute act, but as we now know it turned out to be the real thing.
However, things didn’t go quite according to plan as we since found out from a Somerset radio source that Lee Thompson may not had made it to the gig, following an arrest earlier in the day for speeding.
The rest of the band ensured things continued to run smoothly, turning down even petrol costs for the charity gig, with the legendary Chris Foreman overcoming a bout of man flu to perform guitar. What legends.
Later in the week Suggs and Mike filled a very short slot at the end of Jonathan Ross’ weekly Radio 2 talkshow. We weren’t quite sure why the two of them had such a short timeslot, although Madness Trading Ring subscriber Andrew Langmead commented on a recent post to the list that he thought Mike may have missed his flight from Amsterdam.
On to the issue, and we kicked off with a massive in-depth review of the recently released NW5 single, courtesy of one Jonathan Young.
With a collector’s vinyl, a DVD and a CD single, he felt these three different releases made for a fantastic all round package.
Next, we moved over to a quick review of Paul Morley’s BBC Radio 4 show “Pop, What is it Good For”, which this week featured him enjoying a pint with Suggs while discussing the legendary Lola, by The Kinks.
Moving on, and it was over to The Telegraph, where writer Mark Monahan listed his 10 best songs of the 80s. Madness’ cover of It Must be Love ranked at number 3, with Mark commenting;
“While New Romantic synths bleeped all around them, Camden Town’s Madness were moulding their taut, rather more acoustic brand of ska into one of the other defining sounds of the ’80s. A singles band par excellence, they generally composed their own, cracking material, but this cover of Labi Siffre’s 1971 hit remains one of their finest moments, from frontman Suggs’s committed vocals to the blasting brass to and raindrop-like pizzicato of the backing.”
Along with the above content we also featured a number of articles covering Madness’ charity performance in Bridgewater, and we rounded off the issue with links to two MP3 downloads of Mike and Suggs’ recent appearance on Jonathan Ross’ Saturday morning Radio 2 show.
15 years ago…
Issue 192 – Sunday 12th January – Saturday 18th January 2003
We were only into our second issue of 2003, but the rumours of a Madstock taking place in the summer were already starting to do the rounds. The whole thing seemed to stem from an online web chat with Suggs which was held at the start of the previous week, and while Suggs didn’t rule it out, he also didn’t confirm it.
With the Channel Five series `Night Fever` now no more than a distant memory, what project would our beloved Madness front man turn to next?
Restoration of national treasures of course!
In this issue we took a look at the hype surrounding Suggs as he found himself with a new post, as presenter of Channel 4’s `Salvage Squad` series.
Following the first episode of series two Suggs took time to take part in a short web chat via the channel four web site. For those who missed it a full transcript of what went on could be found in this very issue.
It was big news for North London based band MOT this week, as they were finally able to announce their biggest gig to date. This landmark event was due to take place at The Borderline club off Charing Cross Road, on January 20th. Whilst the band appreciated that many readers of the MIS lived outside London, they were keen to get as many people along to see their hour and a half set as possible.
We finished off the issue with news that those who missed the original airing of the Radio 4 drama ‘I Think I’ve Got a Problem’, would be able to catch the show again, as it was being re-run. The comedy staring Suggs had been popular the first time around, and those who missed it were urged to catch it during the re-run.
Sign of the Times
Suggs – Shrink Rap
by Gwendolyn Smith
Originally appeared in the Daily Mail Event Magazine
What is your earliest memory?
Being in the Colony Room in Soho with my mum when I was about six. I was sitting at the piano and someone gave me a five bob note, which looked the size of a bed sheet. Then we went to the pictures to see a James Bond film.
What sort of a child were you?
Naughty. We used to borrow things and not give them back. From shops. Stuff like records. There were shops in Camden where the manager couldn’t be bothered to take the vinyl out of the sleeves. A big mistake.
What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?
You’re a national institution. Should have been institutionalised, more like.
Which living person do you dislike the most and why?
People who wear backpacks or rucksacks. Barging and bunking you round. Totally oblivious of your face.
What is your most cherished possession?
I’ve got the Evening Standard billboard with the cover announcing John Lennon had been shot. I should get it framed, but I don’t want to be confronted with that headline every day.
Describe the best night of your life
My 50th birthday party at Wilton’s Music Hall. My wife and friend had organised a whole show and got all these old acts together. It was brilliant. Madness were there, and about 200 people came in all.
What has been your most embarrassing moment?
Falling off the stage while supporting David Bowie in the early Eighties. I ran for the mic and slipped and fell a long way down. David was standing at the side of the stage laughing. He thought I’d done it on purpose.
Tell us a secret about yourself
I make pasta from scratch when I’m staying at my house in Italy. They’re very particular, these Italians, but I made some tortellini with some fried pine kernels for some native friends and they enjoyed it.
Which law would you change?
There should be more affordable social housing in London. Right now. They’re destroying this flipping place. Property has become its most valuable asset rather than people.
Who would play you in a film of your life?
Stan Laurel. I like his face, and he wears a bowler hat as well.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Watching videos of myself on YouTube. Being caught at it by the family is almost as bad as being caught watching porn. To be fair, I never get to see what the audience sees so it’s an interesting experience.
If you could go back in time, where would you go? Medieval London would be fascinating.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever had?
Always go to the toilet before you leave a pub.
What are you scared of?
I’m slightly scared of heights. When I climbed up the Duomo in Florence, I was like a cat in one of those cartoons trying to cling to the floor.
What is the worst pain you’ve known?
Fracturing my elbow falling off a car bonnet in Paris.
What is the best kiss you’ve ever had?
Two nights ago. I’m not saying any more.
What skill should everyone have?
To be able to look one another in the eyes and proffer a firm hand shake.
What phrase do you most overuse?
Are you sure those potatoes are done?
When was the last time you cried?
When Chelsea sold Matić to United.
What song do you want at your funeral?
Is That All There Is? by Peggy Lee.
Last film you saw?
Dunkirk. I was hiding under my seat every five minutes but it’s a great film.
Last book you read?
Feasting And Fasting, by Adam Federman – it’s a biography about the food writer Patience Gray, who lived near my house in Italy. She was the editor of a newspaper’s women’s page, but left it all to live in the middle of nowhere, without any running water or electricity.
Last TV show you loved?
The Killing. I like Nordic noir. And Match Of The Day, of course.
My Life Story review – fluent portrait of Suggs as the next national treasure
It takes a while to get into its stride, but this filmed record of Suggs’s autobiographical stage show in London’s Hoxton Hall is amiable, fluent and often intriguing.
Graham “Suggs” McPherson is the working-class lad and unreliable narrator who came up through the vibrant meritocracy of the 70s pub-rock scene to become lead singer of one of the biggest pop bands in Britain: Madness – without ever seeming to care about or even notice the celebrity status for which today’s X-Factor generation yearn.
Director Julien Temple uses some of his trademark archival footage for Suggs’s Soho and west London memories; there are clips of the band in their extreme youth, with some cod-dramatised scenes as Suggs goes in search of information about his late dad. But mostly, and wisely, Temple lets Suggs do the talking on stage: cheerily inviting the crowd to sing along as he goes into bits of his greatest hits. He’s got a very distinctive singing voice; speaking, he sounds weirdly like the actor Kenneth Cranham.
It’s probably better live, but this screen version is entertaining as Suggs continues his stately process to national treasure status.
It takes us through a personal history of Suggs’ life, ground covered in his 2014 autobiography That Close – but brought off the page with the dash and verve you would expect from such a well-versed performer under the guidance of the original rock and roll director Temple.
And the fortunes of both Julien and Suggs are intertwined from way back when.
“I have known Suggs for a long time”, says the director, whose back catalogue includes Sex Pistols exposé The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle, a documentary on Glastonbury, and perhaps the best film ever made on our city – London: The Modern Babylon.
Suggs With Robert Elms
Last Friday, Suggs was the guest on Robert Elms’ Show on BBC London.