new album released on Sept 29th
The Liberty Of Norton Folgate
from the album - Clerkenwell Polka
YouTube - Madness Clerkenwell Polka Jools Holland 24/4/2009
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, the band 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 never disappeared but they faded away, spending years playing summer festivals and other oldies venues befitting an act specializing in nostalgia — an impression that 2005's covers album, The Dangerman Sessions, did nothing to assuage. All this makes The Liberty of Norton Folgate, the band's first album of original material in ten years, and their first in more than a quarter-century, feel fully realized, even surprising. The element of surprise is not in the music, which is firmly within the 2-Tone tradition they laid down in the early '80s — and indeed, is produced by their longtime collaborators Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley — but rather that they've found a way to deepen their nutty sound, to offer nothing less than a mature, middle-aged spin on Presents the Rise & Fall. Like that 1982 new wave classic, The Liberty of Norton Folgate is about London and steeped in classic British pop, using the Kinks as ground zero for a series of wry, keenly observed pop songs about the people and places in London Town. Madness never try to update their sound — they never dabble in electronica or ragga — instead they dig deeper, finding new musical wrinkles within tightly written three-minute pop tunes and stretching out on the astonishing title street that concludes the record. While Madness may be trading on the sound that brought them to the top of the charts, it never sounds like a vain, desperate stab at reviving their youth; they play and write as the middle-aged men they are, finding sustenance within the music of their youth, then adapting it to their lives now, finding as much mirth as melancholy in what they see. Also befitting a middle-aged Madness, The Liberty is an album of craft — so much so that the album has no such stand-out hit single as "Our House," but then again, those were different times — but the true testament to the value of that craft is that The Liberty of Norton Folgate is as rich and rewarding in its deluxe double-disc incarnation as it is in its simpler, single-disc set, something that speaks volumes to the extent of the band's unexpected revitalization here.
1 Overture Barson 01:06
2 We Are London Smyth 03:39
3 Sugar and Spice Barson 02:51
4 Forever Young McPherson 04:36
5 Dust Devil Thompson, Woodgate 03:44
6 Rainbows Thompson, Woodgate 03:21
7 That Close Foreman, McPherson 04:10
8 MKII McPherson, Smyth 02:26
9 On the Town Barson, Woodgate 04:32
10 Bingo Barson, Thompson 04:08
11 Idiot Child Barson, Thompson 03:19
12 Africa Barson 04:19
13 NW5 Barson, Thompson 04:14
14 Clerkenwell Polka Smyth 04:20
15 The Liberty of Norton Folgate Barson, McPherson, Smyth 10:11