Hello, and a very warm welcome to this week’s edition of the MIS Online newsletter.
If you’re a new subscriber, or failed to spot our ad-hoc mid-week issue then you may be interested to learn that the band have just announced a mini tour, which goes under the name of “Stately Madness”.
This four date run of summer gigs see them take in Englefield House, Euston Park, Ragley Hall and Alnwick Castle, and spans the first half of July. Let’s hope the weather is good!
Also announced this week is a new Silencerz gig. Taking advantage of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, the band will be performing on Easter Sunday at the legendary Dublin Castle.
Naturally, we have details of all those gigs and more in our regular Showtimes section.
Now, enough of the waffle. Let’s get on with the issue.
Although the CD has now sold out, you can still purchase a download (plus a bonus track of “Dublin Castle”) for £2.99. All the money is going to CLIC Sargent, which is Mad Chat’s current cause. Thank you!
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”. Its 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
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 – Nick Woodgate: “She’s the One” Single Review
“She’s The One” is released on February the 2nd, with the album “With a Word” due just after, on February 16th.
Nick dedicates this forthcoming album to Yvonne, the sleeve notes tell us. Much like he dedicates the rest of his life.
The album isn’t pink, by the way. Nor is it an obvious luvvy duvvy tie in as it first looks.
But if one track jumps out in sound as ringing most true to that dedication and fitting of a release month that pivots on love reaffirmation of Valentines celebrations, then there’s one song waving at me with a smile of happy, upbeat, loving, joy. It’s got Elo sounds, matched with McCartney jolly sunshine moods that makes it a toe tapper. It’s got jaunty piano and so how can you not smile and throw arms around this track? It gets in a lot of hooks and parts of its song structure before 30 seconds of attention have even passed. Packed with simple true statements. Gets the job done under 3 minutes like good pop singles should, well produced and the sing along bit is “All I have to do today is make her happy anyway” simple focus, life wisdom in a soundbite, how true, so make February a Woodgate date.
The full album is a well produced set of songs that will be available on a fully pressed CD, and therefore fits alongside the Magic Brothers/Woody Woodgate albums as the most fitting third chapter yet available from Nick’s song writing pen. We will be reviewing it in full in a later edition of MIS this year. After being able to give it a spin since Christmas we cant wait to tell you about Louise.
MIS Feature – King CNUT Preview Night Review
We take a first look at a 20 minute preview of Suggs’ second One Man Show, King Cnut A Life In The Realm of Madness, ahead of its full debut to the public this coming Wednesday. As promised last week our Alan Flynn attended, for MIS, on a special try out night of the show for press writing promotional purposes last Tuesday, at the Ambrose theatre rooms.
“Had a great night… The whole show is delivered in the usual Suggs style and so is very funny.
Songs included music from The song The Liberty of Norton Folgate, That Close, Blackbird, My Girl, One Better Day, David Bowie’s Starman and even the sweeny theme tune popped up on the piano at one point.
The whole press preview was only around 20 mins long so by watching the video of 10 minutes the official Suggs Facebook has uploaded online you will have seen half of the preview.
The bit about David Bowie picking up Suggs underwear from his driveway whilst Starman is playing is extremely funny.
I think it does sound like it will be a bid sad on the Amy/Fame stuff to balance it out.
The basic show structure according to Deano it is still being tweaked. The first half of which will be how Suggs was pulled from the gutter ( sort of ) by the chance Madness gave him and the second half is based on the dangers of fame and how Madness kept his feet on the ground despite Suggs saying he had a couple of close shaves with this. Its at this point when he starts talking about fame and sings Blackbird.
There were tales about “Chalky” and Suggs growing up that differ from my life story just like his book That Close also expanded upon.
But whats that that Suggs finds in his mothers handbag?
My life story evolved to include a mad Tommy Cooper moment well look out for Suggs Eric Morecombe dance around the stage in King Cnut. Very funny…
With plenty more to unveil King Cnut begins delighting waves of audiences in just a couple of days… Grab a ticket now, and we will bring you our in-depth review next Sunday.
Alan Flynn/Tony Pycroft
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 715 – Sunday 27th January – Saturday 2nd February 2013
Madness had a number one! Yes, the band had topped the UK Indie chart, and had returned to the main UK charts with a number 16 placing.
Things weren’t so good for the single, though. That crept in at a lowly 88 in the UK singles chart.
Also this week, Chrissy Boy set off rumours of Butlins 2011 concert footage possibly getting an official DVD release.
Back to the poor single placing, and a few fans had emailed in with their views. Chris Carter-Pegg had the following to say;
“Whilst I would love the new Madness single to get into the Top 75 this week, at the same time part of me hopes that it only get’s as far as No. 76, which might finally give a clear message to their record company that many of the 80,000 fans who’ve bought the new album would also be happy to buy a physical single, especially if it has a couple of new B sides, but why would any of these 80,000 buy a download for a track they already have?
If the single doesn’t chart, radio stations will stop playing it, Madness loose kudos and albums will stop selling, its a downward spiral. Surely it’s not rocket science, so why can’t their record company see this?”
Next, it was over to Twitter where we highlighted some of the band’s short musings from the Twittersphere over the past couple of weeks.
Following BBC presenter Chris Packham’s sneaking inserting of numerous Madness song titles into his show, Mike Barson sent him the following message;
“Ha ha Nice one Chris Believe me, that was Absolutely Wonderful!
Moving on, and as well as repeats of The Jonathan Ross Show, Madness this week appeared on BBC Breakfast television, and the recorded appearance made last year for French pop show TARATATTATOUILE also aired.
Over on the BBC Woody and Suggs talked about the Jubilee and the Olympics, but album artwork. One nice thing about this appearance was that Woody covered most of the anecdotes.
The boys continued their stint on the Beeb, appearing on the Simon Mayo BBC Radio 2 Drivetime show. During the interview Woody recounted the album title and the beautifully crossed out names. Simon commented that he liked Dolally the most.
Next, we reported that The Dublin Castle needed your help. The famous venue were after a 3am licence, and were asking for your support on their Facebook page.
We brought this issue to a close with the news that Chris’ Cupboard over on the official Madness Facebook page was to be overhauled. Watch this space, as they say.
10 years ago…
Issue 456 – Sunday 27th January – Saturday 2nd February 2008
It’d been a confusing week, as countless numbers of chart statistics were either sent to us directly or posted over on The Madness Trading Ring.
We knew that Madness charted in the official UK music charts at a not to be sniffed at 24, but we’d since learned that they managed to hit the coveted number one slot. Admittedly, this was in the official UK Indie music chart. The Scottish charts saw the band come in at a very impressive number 3.
On a more worrying note, Madness Trading Ring subscriber, Andrew Langmead reported that NW5 didn’t even enter the top 100 downloads on iTunes. With digital music distribution becoming an ever larger way for bands to sell their latest tunes, this seemed to indicate that those who were going to buy the single already had.
As most of us Madness fans were no longer buyers of singles, it could mean that most are instead holding back for the forthcoming album release. Whilst the singles coming from the Dangermen Sessions failed to set the charts alight, the album itself actually did rather well.
On to the articles, and things kicked off with the exciting news revealing that Madness were rumoured to be appearing at the Coachella Festival, California, on the 25th of April. Stateside fans were already hoping that if this proved to be true, that the band would make the most of the trip by scheduling in other gigs during that time.
Next, we looked at the latest episode of Suggs’ current TV series, “Survivors”, which this week looked at a Dinosaur Park, featuring concrete versions of long extinct animals. The fascinating thing about this was that these dinosaurs were based on what Victorian scientists thought they looked like, so they were like no dinosaur you’d ever seen.
Also in this episode Suggs visited the location of the original Crystal Palace glass building, which in many ways was a millennium dome style project from 100 years previous, the show also visited the Electric Palace, one of the first cinemas or picture houses as they were called, in the uk.
It was over to Dicka next, who’d stumbled upon an article from The Times Online, covering Suggs’ recent visit to his old school to give the pupils a spot of his songwriting magic. This came in the form of a GCSE music lesson, hosted by the man himself.
The majority of this issue, however, was taken up with a massive transcript of Pete Mitchell’s Radio 2 interview with the one and only Suggs. Some five years on it’s still an interesting read, and I hate to think how long it took to transcribe!
We brought this week’s issue of the MIS to a close with the latest roundup of tour dates for tribute outfit, One Step Behind, and news that the Independent newspaper were giving away two 10-track Stiff Records CDs that were well worth adding to the old collection.
15 years ago…
Issue 194 – Sunday 26th January – Saturday 2nd February 2003
We started the issue off with an article from MIS subscriber, Sarah Beamish, who attempted to educate the rest of us heathens in the art of making your mobile phone as nutty as possible. This mobile magic seemed to be carried out by installing backdrops, screensavers and ringtones from various free and commercial sites.
At the time the MIS team had phones that just weren’t able to perform the tasks required, and even now. with our up-to-date phones we’re still not sure how to set all these things up.
A sign of old age? Quite possibly.
The forthcoming week was certainly one for Madness fans wishing to catch the group on UK TV, and it all seemed to take place on Monday the 27th for some reason. This night in question saw Suggs appear on the latest episode of Salvage Squad, Chas appear as guest on music
quiz show Nevermind The Buzzcocks, and all of the band appear on BBC comedy show The Kumars at Number 42.
Elsewhere in the issue we reported on the fact that although the Christmas tour merchandise was now online and available for viewing, you couldn’t actually buy any of it. Each item was priced at a very reasonable zero pounds and zero pence, and if you added bits and pieces to your virtual ‘basket’, and then proceeded to the checkout, the site threw a wobbly, declaring that the item(s) you had chosen were out of stock.
Fans were keen to purchase the goodies. Unfortunately they just weren’t able to.
The issue continued with a transcript of Ska Patrol’s interview with Lee Thompson, which took place after the Cardiff International Arena gig back in December. In it Lee spoke about the band, Crunch, and his stint in Australia.
With the South West somewhat lacking in the Madness tribute band department, the exciting news came in that Bristol was to have it’s very own tribute outfit in the form of 1st Step Below. Due to play their first gig this coming Saturday, the MIS team would be attending, and reporting back to the readers once they’d recovered from a heavy night out.
“Blending the structures of a comedy show, animation and dramatised filmmaking, Temple deploys a plethora of different cinematic vices to tell the story of Suggs. Initially walking onto a small stage accompanied by fellow Madness piano player Dean ‘Deano’ Mumford, Suggs, from the opening moments, is an energetic figure, bouncing around the stage, whilst recounting his life story to a packed out theatre.
Holding the spotlight with a talent evidently crafted in the backstreet pubs of Camden Town. Guiding us through the back streets of Soho and Camden, his stories are filled with comedic anecdotes regarding blue silk suits and youth culture of the era. Still, a fundamental search lays at the heart of his story – who really was his father?
Though not as orientated around lineage as the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?, it is a narrative beat that creates a significant piece pathos towards Suggs and makes him all the more endearing in achieving the success he has. Besides Suggs talking, striking images interpolate the viewer into his world of soho, Camden the 70s and 80s.
In the moments of breaking away from speaking to song, the transgression feels natural and unforced simply due to Suggs’s already iconic voice. Supported by his friend and band member, Deano’s piano imbues the live footage with an old fashioned piece of humour and entertainment. There from its starting moments to its last, it is a positive omnipresent voice, just as Suggs’ vocal chords are.
As Madness’ music to this day does SO brilliantly, Suggs: My Life Story fills one with an upbeat feeling and foregrounds Suggs as a national treasure.”
“Suggs: My Life Story – The Movie is a British independent film musical based on the Madness star. It’s directed by Julien Temple and focuses on Suggs’ quest to find meaning to his life after his 50th birthday leaves him wondering who he really is.
Julien Temple’s Suggs: My Life Story is a charming, fawning and affectionate portrait of the singer. It allows Suggs a carte blanche to tell his story in his own words on a stage in Hoxton Hall to an already captive audience, recounting how he felt when his cat died on the morning of his 50th birthday when he was hung over after a huge birthday celebration, before backtracking to his days as a tyke growing up in London and, for a brief period, Wales without knowing his father, and then flip-siding to the advent of the group that took the early 1980s by storm with their hits “Our House”, “House of Fun” and “It Must Be Love”
Temple has positioned himself as the great chronicler of the British music scene. Sometimes his friendships with his subjects can get in the way of his desire to investigate beyond surface pleasures. Temple has a history of working with Madness: his elaborate film The Liberty of Norton Folgate was made to accompany the band’s ninth studio album and incorporated concert footage shot at Hackney Empire as if it were being performed in Victorian England. Suggs: My Life Story is a simpler aesthetic proposition with much of the footage of Suggs performing his show that he’s been touring venues with since 2012, but Temple focuses on the smiles of his audience. Suggs indulges them by singing some songs, not all his own. This routine is intertwined with what are occasionally tacky dramatisations, the first of which sees Suggs recounting a story in the bathtub, but these dramatic moments morph into a more poignant personal journey showing the singer on his search for more information on the father he never knew, which takes him to Birmingham. More successful is Temple’s use of archive footage, a feature of many of his films. Here, he uses the visual material to romanticise the London scenes in the same tone as Suggs’ reminiscences. Suggs is a great raconteur of London life and his own place within it, although the rose-tinted view of past events is often charming, rather than revealing.
As with many on-stage “An Evening With…” events, this film is one for those fans not looking for an investigation or warts-and-all portrait of a subject, and will please those who are happy to hear some fun anecdotes and stories of the good old days, as well as those who are seeking to be entertained, rather than have things explained to them – and that this film does in 2 tone: glad and gladder.
“A must for Madness devotees, this is essentially the filmed version of Graham “Suggs” McPherson’s autobiographical one-man show. It’s shot at Hoxton Hall in London, before a packed house of groupies and sycophants, who laugh far too loudly at every (frequently flat) punchline.
McPherson is not, it transpires, a natural comedian (“Wikipedia? Wiki-what-f***ing-ever!” is one of his “good” ones). However, he is a born raconteur and carries us through this 96 minutes effortlessly with shaggy-dog stories about violent school days and pub riots on the live circuit, with musical interludes (his half-spoken Baggy Trousers is fabulous) and brief excursions into real emotion when he discusses the heroin junkie father whom he never knew. The co-director Julien Temple (The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle) provides the archive footage and animated inserts, but for better and for worse the film is all Suggs.” Rated 15 96 Minutes
Pop stars life stories have some pretty extraordinary episodes at times, Suggs the lead singer of 80’s group Madness hasn’t quite led the life of Keith Moon, made clear by the opening when he mourns the death of his cat and uses it as a springboard for a reappraisal of his life.
Based on the popular stage play this is essentially a filmed version of that same play with a surprisingly sweary Suggs holding court to an audience of fans who seem to be hanging on his every word and unable to contain their laughter at many of the weak jokes. Albeit except for one young woman who director Julian Temple can’t resist cutting to as she sits stony faced seemingly oblivious to Suggs anecdotes. It’s odd but perhaps is a deliberately self deprecating thing to include though many of Suggs anecdotes are like that.
Temple is ideally suited to direct with his back catalogue of films (Sex Pistols’ The Great Rock & Roll Swindle ), documentaries (Rolling Stones’ At the Max) to a huge array of videos that have included David Bowie, Culture Club, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Blur and even S Club 7.
For fans of the group there’s a wealth of stories here about the band that include how Suggs whose real name is the distinctly un-Rock n Roll Graham McPherson got his nickname to how he accidentally found out about the death of his long absent father.
Interspersed with moments away from the stage to illustrate various moments in his life story the film is still firmly rooted in its theatrical origins and the film is the result of several shows recorded at Shepherds Bush Empire and Hoxton Hall cut together and the film ends with the bands brilliant and iconic performance atop Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee party – pity they never had any footage of her Majesty doing that Madness jive with the rest of the Royals.
For fans the best moments are some rare unseen footage of the band in the early days who frequently reform always to huge audiences as seen at the first MADstock where audiences went berserk and their pogo-ing caused a tremor. At times a little bit slow but this is more for the fans that anyone new to the band and their music where this doesn’t quite capture the appeal of the band in their heyday.
“My Life Story opens with Suggs (the iconic frontman of Madness) walking down an alley. With a can of graffiti he sprays the name of the film, followed with an ellipsis and a question mark. It’s a nice touch that reveals much about things to come.
This isn’t your bog standard music biopic. There’s no talking heads from the man himself nor from other people who’d speak about the man in revered tones. Things aren’t told from the beginning to the present day. And, whilst archive footage is used, it’s not always used in the most expected of manners. But, then again, what else could we expect from a collaboration between Suggs and filmmaker Julien Temple?
Suggs explains that it was his fiftieth birthday that triggered of a spate of self-reflection. It was also the day his cat inadvertently committed suicide which didn’t do much for his mood. A conversation that day with his mum about his father, who had left when Suggs was very young, then leads to him going to find out more about what happened to his dad. Things carry on from there in that sort of tone, of one thing leading onto the next. The effect could have been rambling but instead feels personal and heartfelt. Telling a life story from beginning to end would be all-too-artificial.
Storytelling by default tends to be far more drifty, a bit like life really. The story is told solely by the man himself, predominantly from the stage but with some very entertaining recreations for great comedic effect.
There’s something vaudevillian about proceedings, which is more than apt considering the subject. There’s even a few musical numbers to make things feel even more like a musical hall performance. Two threads are skilfully woven together – his researching his father in the present day and his past, from childhood to the Madness era. There’s a nice balance between each, seamlessly moving between the past and the present – often interlinking in surprising stranger-than-fiction ways. Such a style requires a very good storytelling, and unsurprisingly we’re in good company here.
If you’ve ever seen a snippet of Suggs on telly, or heard him on the radio, you’ll know how verbose he is. His storytelling style, as it is here, is warm and witty. Reflective and knowing. Self-aware but just as self-deprecating. It’s a real pleasure to sit and watch, almost feeling like you’re really there at the theatre and in his presence. Your attention is always held and constantly rewarded with some crackers of a yarn”
IT was a pivotal moment in my teenage years. My brother Joe was working for the Mean Fiddler music group and had freebies to go to Madstock in Finsbury Park. It was 1992, and I was very much of an acid house generation. Madness, to a 18-year-old, seemed a bit last decade. But a guestlist to gig in a park you could walk home from with my older brother was too good an opportunity to miss – and as soon as I heard the opening lines of One Step Beyond and watched 75,000 other north Londoners go absolutely ballistic, I realised I knew just about every lyric to every Madness hit. It was like living in NW5 meant you’d learned them all by osmosis. I give you this aside as it inevitably colours my feelings towards Julien Temple’s film about the life and times of Madness singer Suggs.
Suggs has become pop aristocracy, but he is much more than the front man for one of the best British bands ever. Instead, he has become a social historian – and by considering his back story, he creates a context to look at London in the 1970s and 1980s. It is not surprising – as a lyricist, he has also written songs that reflect the experiences of life in north London for a generation.
The film has different strands to it. There is Suggs presenting in the manner of a music hall performer and then there are set-piece moments of acting to help the story along. Perhaps, as with Temple’s magnificent film London: The Modern Babylon, the best parts are the footage of our city in times gone by. For those in the Camden and Islington area, the film has added resonance: a gig at William Ellis School was pivotal for the band, as was playing at the Dublin Castle every Wednesday and performing at the Hope and Anchor in Upper Street. This is a marvellous journey, told by an eloquent entertainer, and a must for anyone, like me, who had Madness music as the soundtrack of their youth.
The Silencerz at the Camden Assembly
A birthday bash for front man Daley. The band performed two sets.
The second opened featured Lee Thompson once again dipping into the Aggrolites catalogue of songs, covering the tune “Free Time”. Some may remember the Aggrolites from a well received support slot a decade or so ago. The LTSO used to cover “Gravedigger” and the Silencerz Nick Godwin tells us they do a good version of Don’t let me down as well which the Silencerz also covered last week.
Our thanks to Sharon Staite for the set list.
Step it up sister
Havin a laugh
Dont let me down
Devil & The Deep Blue Sea
You can get it
A message to you Rudy
No no no
Guns of Navarone
Let your yeah be yeah
54 46 was my number
Jonathan Young / Sharon Staite
We’re almost done for this week, but before we go, here’s Suggs discussing Aled Jones and Walking in the Air on The Wright Stuff: