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.