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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' keyboardist Jerry Dammers and Steve Nieve (keyboards), 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. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

I <3 Madness !
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
pooh_bear333
Our House
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...
Listening to Richard Blade in Los Angeles dancing at Marilyn's in Pasadena
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 ;-)
Recorded for a Honda car commercial in Japan.Its MADNESS!!!
coolcarl88
The timeless 80's.
my favorite song of their is Sperm Pizza
I want to f**kin dance
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 :-)
To aqui por causa doo Xuri
i love love Madness
Who do we want for our leader?
vic_dlg
Love this song
Memories!
Oneeee steeepppp beeeyyyyoooo n n d d d
Awesome song
yeah great ska! the bass is always a killer with madness1
Madness are awesome =)
Madness rocks!!
vl_hain
Madness are legends that is all x
Madness rules!
MADNESS RULES
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!
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!
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.
Its helpful to know where the s**tty Ska sound came from. What a surprise, Britain.
Love madness saw them in San Diego several times, and are awesome. I wish they would tour again.
Madness, in their early days were ska/rocksted y . They took on more pop stylings as the years went by.
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.
jpollack06
ONE STEP BEYOND!
Meatloaf, Queen, Foreigner, and Journey. Hmmm. Sure hope that crap doesn't pop up while I am listenening to good ska music.
This is Madness!
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.
What the f**k is this Pandora? How does it fit in with Meatloaf, Queen, Foreigner, and Journey?
jimboyoung
I helped start a bootleg radio station in the early 80s at Cal Poly SLO, California, and I LOVED playing Madness, Specials, English Beat and lots of reggae too. God bless the Brits and this wave of ska!
jadenlyric
How can they talk about Madness without mentioning Baggy Trousers? I remember it being on the charts forever in the UK!
It Must Be Love!
It Must Be Love!
Just realized these guys sound exactly like Dr. Dog.
kellied
I remember listening to this song and picturing a big, busy, noisy (fun) family. I thought that I'd have one or two kids. Now I have almost a dozen. "Our House" is about MY house! There's always something happening/ And it's usually quite loud/ Our mum she's so house-proud/ Nothing ever slows her down/ And a mess is not allowed. . . it's me!
slynblk
eh...they were ok beat and toasters better
whait! wheres my house?
Saw them at Universal. Great show.
jimlipari
Les Claypool is playing this song live with his current band. Yeah, think about his bass pumping this one out! Holy mother of all things holy, there's no way to sit still when this song is playing!!
flynnbm4
Madness shows up as a one hit wonder band on VH1 shows in the U.S..They were/are like gods in the U.K.. I kind of like the fact that they never really made it in the U.S.. My rude-boy friends in the early eighties and I had our own little club. Thank you 2-tone. One Step Beyond, Absolutely, and Madness 7 are the albums to get, along with The Nutty Boys EP with comic book(if you can find it).
I put on Madness whenever I need a little sonic motivation. I can't sit still while listening to them! Madness has the near magical ability to turn even the most onerous tasks into good times. It's true!
What about the group called "The Nutty Boys"? The website is http://www.e u r o n e t . n l / u s e r s / s j a a k / M a d n e s s / N u t t y / N u t t y b o y s . h t m l This is a direct quote from the site. "In fact the home of Chris Foreman and Lee Thompson,
2 respected members of Madness who started the Nutty Boys in 1990.
They dedicated their 'Crunch' album to:
"the good ship Madness (1979-1989 RIP) and all who sailed on her". " They also came out with a second album called "It's OK I'm a Policeman" EP.

skaman_125
i still wait for the day "night boat to cairo" come on a loud speaker and everyone does the dance......
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