25 September 2005

The Nutsiest Sound Around

When Madness' new record (The Dangermen Sessions, Vol. 1) came out, I wasn't, to be honest, that into it; it was all ska, and I'm much more fond of their pop stuff. There were a few standouts, though (their arrangement of "You Keep Me Hanging On" is superb, as is their version of "The Israelites"), but it just didn't have the same zing as the other, poppier records (like their previous non-released-in-the-US Wonderful, which was very good).

But last night, I caught them live on their Grueling, 4-Stop West Coast Tour and, well, hey, I'm sold on the new one. They played a ska-heavy set (though some of their pop hits as well), and it was just amazingly good and fun; they're really loose and great live. So much energy and just fun!

And, well, now, going back to the record, though I still hope their next record is another pop one, I'm liking Dangermen Sessions a lot more than I did previously and recommend picking it up. It is too bad, though, that in the US, pretty much the Madness bin immediately before Dangermen came out was made up of about 10 different albums.... all of which the same compilation with different titles and maaaaybe one or two different tracks. (Now, see, they're the 10 different comps with the same songs and Dangermen, so it's a bit of a step up, I suppose.)

I've been fixing to get The Lot, the box set of all the pre-Wonderful albums -- I just have The Business (3 CD set of the singles), Keep Moving (excellent -- highly recommended), Mad Not Mad (eehhh... some good stuff, but some of the band members left and there was even less in the way of the previous ska-tinged sound), Universal Madness (a live album.... with live versions of the same 10 songs on all the comps!), and the self-titled compilation (of the comps, the best, which doubled as their first US album and basically the source for 90% of the tracklisting on all the other comps, plus a bunch more songs). But really -- Madness are great. They've got such an ear and skill. I love listening to the way their songs are constructed, too -- the bridge of "Our House" (particularly the line break of "Then we'd say nothing would come between us/two dreamers"), and the "Something tells you that you've got to
get away from it" backing vocal in the chorus.


Blogger Lee H. said...

I have such a spotty history with Madness... I liked 'em back in the 80s (due mainly to their appearances on "The Young Ones," my favorite show during college) and then basically forgot all about them until you put that "Michael Caine" song of theirs on a mix CD. I picked up one of those best-of discs (not one of the ones you mentioned by name- yet another one! :D ) and that's hae me curious to hear more of their pop stuff as well.

Sounds like the show was great... I can imagine those guys ARE a hoot to see in concert.

9:16 AM, September 26, 2005  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

I'd probably recommend Keep Moving the most (it's one of the few Actual Albums that was released in this country... but, strangely, with a different tracklisting that the UK one. Though, for once, the US version is better; it's got a couple of b-sides in there, too. The UK version I think is shorter.. and it's a Geffen Goldline release, so it'll only be about 6 bucks or thereabouts!), then Madness (the one with them in a pool-hall on the cover) (though you might already have like half of it on said Best Of).

If you're so inclined, you might check out The Business, it's the UK Singles Collection. It's pretty cool, but one kind of annoying thing about it is that they put it together sort of like a radio show with a bunch of interviews and such on there with other people (IIRC, Elvis Costello's one of the interviewees), but they're on the same tracks as the songs, so, well, if you listen to it more than once, you'll be constantly skipping when the songs are over.

11:03 AM, September 26, 2005  
Blogger Lee H. said...

Keep Moving sounds like a good one. The radio shtick on The Business sounds like an INCREDIBLY bad idea. :D

1:25 PM, September 26, 2005  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

The first time I got The Business I actually thought it was cool; but then again, at the time, i was in College Radio and thought that it might be cool to edit it together into a 3 hour Radio Special. (I never did, though.) And then now that I'm not in college radio, I realized it's, well, kind of annoying, really.

9:36 PM, September 26, 2005  

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