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Madness

Along with the Specials, Madness were one of the leading bands of the ska revival of the late '70s and early '80s. As their career progressed, Madness branched away from their trademark "nutty sound" and incorporated large elements of Motown, soul, and British pop. Although the band managed one crossover American hit in 1983, they remained a British phenomenon, influencing several successive generations of musicians and becoming one of the most beloved groups the country produced during the '80s.

The origins of Madness lie in a ska group known as the Invaders, which was formed by Mike Barson, Chris Foreman, and Lee Thompson in 1976. By 1978, the band had changed their name to Morris and the Minors and had added Graham "Suggs" McPherson, Mark Bedford, Chas Smash, and Dan Woodgate to the group. Later in 1978, they changed their name to Madness, in homage to one of their favorite Prince Buster songs. The following year, Madness released their debut single, a tribute to Prince Buster entitled "The Prince," on Two-Tone. The song was a surprise success, reaching the British Top 20. Following its success, the band signed a record contract with Stiff Records and released another Prince Buster song, "One Step Beyond," which climbed to number seven.

Madness quickly recorded their debut album, also titled One Step Beyond, with producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. Released toward the end of the year, the album peaked at number two in Britain and it stayed on the charts for well over a year. At the beginning of 1980, the band's third single, "My Girl," peaked at number three. For the next three years, the group had a virtually uninterrupted run of 13 Top Ten singles, during which time they were one of the most popular bands in Britain, rivaled only by the Jam in terms of widespread popularity. Where the Jam appealed to teenagers and young adults, Madness had a broad fan base, reaching from children to the elderly. Which didn't mean their music was diluted -- they continued to expand their sound, both musically and lyrically.

In the spring of 1980, Madness released the Work Rest and Play EP, which reached number six on the strength of the EP's lead song, "Night Boat to Cairo." Also during the spring, One Step Beyond was released in the United States, where it peaked at 128. Madness' second album, Absolutely, was released in the fall of 1980. The record peaked at number two on the British charts, but it stalled at number 146, in the U.S. Sire dropped the band after the commercial disappointment of Absolutely, leaving Madness without an American record contract for several years.

Back in England, Madness continued to gain momentum, as the group began playing matinee shows on their tours so children under 16 years old could attend the concert. In the fall of 1981, the band released their third album, Seven, which peaked at number five. In January of 1982, Madness hit number four with a cover of Labi Siffre's "It Must Be Love." In March, their streak of Top Ten hits was interrupted when "Cardiac Arrest" stalled at number 14 on the charts, due to radio's reluctance to play the tune. The band bounced back a few months later with "House of Fun," their first number one single. That same month, the hits compilation, Complete Madness, reached number one.

Madness returned in the late summer of 1982 with The Rise and Fall, their full-fledged shift to pop. Like their previous albums, it was a British hit, reaching the Top Ten, but it also contained the seeds of their brief American success with the Top Five British single "Our House." The single was released in America on the group's new label, Geffen, and it received heavy airplay from MTV. The music-video television network had previously played the videos for "House of Fun," "It Must Be Love," and "Cardiac Arrest" when the band's albums were unreleased in the United States, thereby setting the stage for "Our House" to become a massive hit. With "Our House," Madness had MTV exposure coincide with a record release for the first time, which sent the single into the American Top Ten in the summer of 1983. The success of the single brought the U.S. compilation album, Madness, to number 41. Madness managed one more American Top 40 hit that fall, when "It Must Be Love" peaked at number 33.

At the end of 1983, Mike Barson -- the band's key songwriter -- left the group to settle down with his wife. Although Madness was able to stay near the top of the charts with their first post-Barson release, "Michael Caine," the band's fortunes began to decline over the course of 1984. Upon its release in the spring, Keep Moving hit number six on the British charts; in America, the record reached number 109. In June, the group released its final single for Stiff Records, "One Better Day," which peaked at number 17. In the fall, Madness formed their own record label, Zarjazz. They released "Yesterday's Men," their first recording on Zarjazz, in September of 1985, nearly a year after the label's formation. The record peaked at number 18 and its parent album, Mad Not Mad, reached number 16 upon its October release. Their chart decline continued early in 1986, when their cover of Scritti Politti's "Sweetest Girl" peaked at number 35. For most of 1986, the group was quiet. In September, Madness announced they were disbanding. Two months later, their farewell single, "Waiting for the Ghost Train," was released, charting at number 18.

After staying dormant for a year-and-a-half, the group reunited at the beginning of 1988 as a quartet called the Madness, releasing its comeback single, "I Pronounce You," in March. The Madness featured Chris Foreman, Lee Thompson, Chas Smash, and Suggs, and was augmented by the Specials' keyboardists Jerry Dammers and Steve Nieve, and Bruce Thomas (bass) of the Attractions. "I Pronounce You" reached number 44 on the U.K. charts and its accompanying album stiffed upon its spring release. The group disbanded for a second time that fall.

In the summer of 1992, the original lineup of Madness reunited to perform two outdoor concerts at London's Finsbury Park. The group dubbed the event Madstock and released a recording of the shows on Go! Records. Madstock became an annual event for the next four years -- every summer the band would reunite and headline an outdoor festival at Finsbury Park. Suggs launched a solo career in 1995 with The Lone Ranger, which performed respectably in the U.K. charts. In 1996, Madness played the final Madstock and announced they planned not to reunite for future concerts, but by 1998 they were back on the road, with a Los Angeles date recorded for release as Universal Madness the following year. The group also reunited with original producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley to record their first new material in over a decade. The resulting Dangermen Sessions, Vol 1 was released in 2005, followed in 2009 by The Liberty of Norton Folgate, the group's ninth studio album. During 2012 the band took part in high-profile performances that celebrated the best of British culture. They played from the top of Buckingham Palace in Queen’s Diamond Jubilee party and also appeared in the closing ceremony of the London Olympic Games. As 2012 drew to a close, Madness released a new album called Oui, Oui, Si, Si, Ja, Ja, Da, Da. The group returned in 2016 with their 12th studio effort, Can't Touch Us Now. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da

1. My Girl 2

2. Never Knew Your Name

3. La Luna

4. How Can I Tell You?

5. Kitchen Floor

6. Misery

7. Leon

8. Circus Freaks

9. So Alive

10. Small World

11. Death Of A Rude Boy

12. Powder Blue

13. Black And Blue

14. My Girl 2 (Clive Langer And Charlie Andrew Mix)

x

Track List: The Liberty Of Norton Folgate

1. Overture

2. We Are London

3. Sugar And Spice

4. Forever Young

5. Dust Devil

6. Rainbows

7. That Close

8. MKII

9. On The Town

10. Bingo

11. Idiot Child

12. Africa

13. NW5

14. Clerkenwell Polka

15. The Liberty Of Norton Folgate

x

Track List: The Dangermen Sessions, Volume One

1. This Is Where

2. Girl Why Don't You ?

3. Shame & Scandal

4. I Chase The Devil A.K.A. Ironshirt

5. Taller Than You Are

6. You Keep Me Hanging On

7. Dangerman Aka High Wire

8. Israelites

9. John Jones

10. Lola

11. You'll Lose A Good Thing

12. Rain

13. So Much Trouble In The World

x

Track List: Singles Box, Vol. 1

Disc 1

1. The Prince

2. Madness

Disc 2

1. One Step Beyond

2. Mistakes

Disc 3

1. My Girl

3. In The Rain

Disc 4

1. Night Boat To Cairo

2. Deceives The Eye

3. The Young And The Old

4. Don't Quote Me On That

Disc 5

1. Don't Quote Me On That

2. Swan Lake

Disc 6

1. Baggy Trousers

2. The Business

Disc 7

1. Embarrassment

2. Crying Shame

Disc 8

1. The Return Of The Los Palmas 7

2. That's The Way To Do It

Disc 9

1. Grey Day

2. Memories

Disc 10

1. Shut Up

2. A Town With No Name

3. Never Ask Twice

Disc 11

1. It Must Be Love

2. Shadow On The House

Disc 12

1. Cardiac Arrest

2. In The City

x

Track List: Divine Madness

1. The Prince

2. One Step Beyond

3. My Girl

4. Night Boat To Cairo

5. Baggy Trousers

6. Embarrassment

8. Grey Day

9. Shut Up

10. It Must Be Love

11. Cardiac Arrest

12. House Of Fun

13. Driving In My Car

14. Our House

15. Tomorrow's Just Another Day

16. Wings Of A Dove

17. The Sun And The Rain

18. Michael Caine

19. One Better Day

20. Yesterday's Men

21. Uncle Sam

22. (Waiting For The) Ghost Train

x

Track List: Keep Moving

1. Keep Moving

2. Michael Caine

3. Turning Blue

4. One Better Day

5. March Of The Gherkins

6. Waltz Into Mischief

7. Brand New Beat

8. Victoria Gardens

9. Samantha

10. Time For Tea

11. Prospects

12. Give Me A Reason

x

Track List: The Rise And Fall

1. Rise And Fall

2. Tomorrow's Just Another Day

3. Blue Skinned Beast

4. Primrose Hill

5. Mr Speaker Gets The Word

6. Sunday Morning

7. Our House

8. Tiptoes

9. New Delhi

10. That Face

11. Calling Cards

12. Are You Coming (With Me)

13. Madness (Is All In The Mind)

x

Track List: Seven

1. Cardiac Arrest

2. Shut Up

3. Sign Of The Times

4. Missing You

5. Mrs Hutchinson

6. Tomorrow's Dream

7. Grey Day

8. Pac-A-Mac

9. Promises, Promises

10. Benny Bullfrog

11. When Dawn Arrives

12. The Opium Eaters

13. Day On The Town

x

Track List: Absolutely

1. Baggy Trousers

2. Embarrassment

3. E.R.N.I.E.

4. Close Escape

5. Not Home Today

6. On The Beat Pete

7. Solid Gone

8. Take It Or Leave It

9. Shadow Of Fear

10. Disappear

11. Overdone

12. In The Rain

13. You Said

14. Return Of The Los Palmas

x

Track List: Complete Madness

7. Bed And Breakfast Man

13. Take It Or Leave It

14. In The City

15. Madness

16. The Return Of The Los Palmas 7

x

Track List: One Step Beyond...

1. One Step Beyond

2. My Girl

3. Night Boat To Cairo

4. Believe Me

5. Land Of Hope And Glory

6. The Prince

7. Tarzan's Nuts

8. In The Middle Of The Night

9. Bed & Breakfast Man

10. Razor Blade Alley

11. Swan Lake

12. Rockin' In A B

13. Mummy's Boy

14. (They Call It) Madness

15. Chipmunks Are Go!

x

Track List: Utter Madness

1. Our House

2. Driving In My Car

3. Michael Caine

4. Wings Of A Dove

5. Yesterdays Men

6. Tomorrow's Just Another Day

8. (Waiting For) The Ghost Train

9. Uncle Sam

10. The Sun And The Rain

12. One Better Day

13. Victoria Gardens

x

Track List: Wonderful

1. Lovestruck

2. Johnny The Horse

3. The Communicator

4. 4am

5. The Wizard

7. Going To The Top

8. Elysium

9. Saturday Night Sunday Morning

10. If I Didn't Care

11. No Money

Comments

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I will kiss you when you want to I will ask you first mimi
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Don't watch that, watch this, it's the heavy heavy monster sound
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I love the oldes
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Takes me back to Ohio University early 80's
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Wow! This song brings back sweet sweet memories.
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Our house
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max4134
Madness just brilliant.
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Hey i actually had ahouse in the middle of the street
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Ummmmm crowbar are you ok?
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We all have a little MADNESS in us. lol
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Our House
Bst song evr
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Boss Gregory gets it... willo is just an ignorant moron... same with shigglemcgig g i n s ... get a life... go back to school or quit ditching class... do a lill research before you open your mouth and spew your verbal diarrhea ... OR do the world a favor and jump in front of an Amtrack so you can not breed... HA!
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This one's for you, mom.
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Night Boat To Cairo... 1 FAV SONG EVA
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reaper.1976. a l
Love this song, reminds me of 4th grade, and chicken pox
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I <3 Madness !
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Keene valley NY on the Ausable river. Cool water on a hot summer night. The giggling of young girls. I wasn't yet of age and my madness memory will be with me no matter my age
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Our House
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paulh014
got in a fight at a Madness Concert....n o t h i n g i am proud of
.there is no fighting at a Madness
Guy that broke it up...
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Listening to Richard Blade in Los Angeles dancing at Marilyn's in Pasadena
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The Lola cover from danger men sessions turned a fun little party at the end of world bar in Bimini into an all night drunken hoot. A dozen or so of us were awakened on the beach by the morning chalks seaplane flight from Miami. The noise of the radial engines and sunlight damned killed the lot of us. Thank god I grew up a little ;-)
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Recorded for a Honda car commercial in Japan.Its MADNESS!!!
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coolcarl88
The timeless 80's.
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my favorite song of their is Sperm Pizza
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I want to f**kin dance
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I have been a madness fan for decades. Never considered them ska. Fun band, great sound. They let a lot of the stuffed shirts in my youth get a taste for something new. Got people talking about reggae. You want ska got to skatellites radio. There has been great ska on both sides of the pond. Don't let elitism limit the sounds you let in :-)
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To aqui por causa doo Xuri
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i love love Madness
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Who do we want for our leader?
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vic_dlg
Love this song
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Memories!
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Oneeee steeepppp beeeyyyyoooo n n d d d
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Awesome song
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yeah great ska! the bass is always a killer with madness1
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Madness are awesome =)
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Madness rocks!!
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vl_hain
Madness are legends that is all x
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Madness rules!
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MADNESS RULES
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Why all the arguments? Just because two musicians within the same genre sound different is no reason to be at each other's throats. Who cares if someone likes different music than you? Let's just respect each other's differences and move on, and if you're not a fan of British ska, then don't listen to it!
Report as inappropriate
psbaba
Boss...that' s just blasphemy! I liked the used car salesman touch that some American ska bands added to the the genre of ska! And to say that Sublime was a bad influence on ska is like saying Elvis had a bad influence on decorative commemorativ e plates! sheesh!
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Actuayy the really bad ska stuff comes from the USA. Bands like Sublime and all the rest that came out in the mid 90's are to blame not the Brits. They were closer to the original Jamacian stuff than most Amrican bands, save a very few, ever were.
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Its helpful to know where the s**tty Ska sound came from. What a surprise, Britain.
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Love madness saw them in San Diego several times, and are awesome. I wish they would tour again.
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Madness, in their early days were ska/rocksted y . They took on more pop stylings as the years went by.
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bomacs1947
Ok maybe Madness has one or tunes that might resemble ska....but in general, Madness is not SKA! Just because you have horns in your band doesn't mean you are ska.
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jpollack06
ONE STEP BEYOND!
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Meatloaf, Queen, Foreigner, and Journey. Hmmm. Sure hope that crap doesn't pop up while I am listenening to good ska music.
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This is Madness!
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wenberep
I know right Stony Tony, I hate when pandora suggests songs that I don't absolutly love right away. It's like c'mon how hard is it to play only songs I like all the time. Makes me so angry I just want to invent my own music machine.
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