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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Rewind: 1985 Mad Not Mad - Madness


Mad Not Mad - Madness
Released 30th September 1985
Produced by Cliver Langer and Alan Winstanley
UK Chart #16 
Singles From Mad Not Mad
  1. Yesterday's Men
    Released: 19 August 1985 UK Chart #18
  2. Uncle Sam
    Released: 14 October 1985
    UK Chart #21
  3. The Sweetest Girl
    Released: 10 February 1986

    UK Chart #35
    Suggs (Graham McPherson) – lead vocals
    Chris Foreman – guitars
    Mark Bedford (Bedders) – bass guitars
    Lee Thompson – saxophones
    Daniel Woodgate (Woody) – drums, lynn drum programming; keyboard sequences
    Chas Smash (Cathal Smyth) – backing Vocals; lead vocals on "Tears You Can't Hide"
    Steve Nieve – keyboards

Session musicians
    Roy Davies – piano
    Judd Lander – harmonica
    Luís Jardim – percussion
    Tom Morley – computer supervision
    Gary Barnacle – horns
    David Bedford – strings and MD
    Trevor Ford – strings
    Rupert Bowden – strings
    Bill Benham – strings
    Belinda Blunt – strings
    Rusen Gunes – strings
    Adan Levine – strings
    Basil Smart – strings
    Afrodiziak (Caron Wheeler and Claudia Fontaine) – backing Vocals
    Jimmy Helms – backing vocals
    Jimmy Thomas – backing vocals
    Jimmy Chambers – backing vocals

Mad Not Mad is the sixth studio album by the British ska/pop band Madness. It was originally released in late 1985, and was their first official release on their own label Zarjazz, which was a sub-label of Virgin Records. The album was recorded over a period of two months in 1985, at Westside Studios in London, and at Air studios also in London. The album is generally regarded as the culmination of the smoother, more adult-oriented sound of the band's later work. It features three prolific guest backing vocalists, including the female duo Afrodiziak (composed of Caron Wheeler and Claudia Fontaine), and Jimmy Helms. The album is notably the band's only album not to feature their keyboardist and founding member Mike Barson, who had left the group the previous year to spend more time with his now ex-wife Sandra in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Barson's keyboard parts were filled by synthesizers and Steve Nieve joined the band to take his place. Two years after the album Madness disbanded, but Barson did join them for the recording of their one-off single, "(Waiting For) The Ghost Train". The album was their last recording of original material until they officially reformed in 1992. The album peaked at number 16 in the UK charts, and achieved silver status from the BPI. However, the album remains the band's poorest selling studio album to date. It featured the songs "Yesterday's Men", "Uncle Sam", and "Sweetest Girl" which were all released as singles, with corresponding music videos. The three singles that were released all reached the top 40 in the UK charts, however the latter two failed to make the top 20, which was a first for any Madness single. The aforementioned "Sweetest Girl" was a cover version of a song by the British post-punk/new wave band Scritti Politti.

On release, the album was received favourably by the majority of music critics, although opinions have become much more negative in subsequent decades. And after only a few weeks of its initial release, the writers of NME listed this album at number 55 on their list of the "100 Best Albums of All Time". The band themselves have been quite vocal in that they were less satisfied with the album. In a BBC Radio 1 interview in 1993 their lead vocalist, Suggs described Mad Not Mad as "a polished turd" (referring to its distinctively glossy mid 1980s over-production by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, whom had both produced all of Madness' work since their debut). However, NME are still favourable for the album, including it in their 2015 list of "50 Albums Released in 1985 That Still Sound Great Today".

The album was re-released in the United Kingdom, in October 2010 on Virgin featuring rare bonus content. The reissue was a 3-disc set which comprises a 14-track with the original album digitally remastered from the original 1/2" mix tapes; alongside three bonus single remixes and '(Waiting For) The Ghost Train'; a Bonus 10-track CD including demos of all the album's singles and their respective B-sides; plus a Bonus DVD containing all the music videos for the singles as well as live performances from five BBC TV shows. It also features liner notes written by comedian and Madness fan, Phill Jupitus.

Despite the lack of success of the album it still remains an album of theirs that I really love. Burning the Boats is one of my favourites and Yesterday's Men I think is one of their finest singles, even if it is a bit out of character for them.

Burning the Boats and Time - Whistle Test 26/11/85.

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