Anybody who says they don’t like Madness is very probably lying. Madness are, quite simply, a bona fide national treasure; a band who inspire such goodwill and bonhomie that we are lucky to be graced with their continuing presence on Britain’s music scene. The archetypal pop group and ultimate singles band, Madness have been making records since 1979 and – during their thirty-plus year career – have enjoyed a string of Top Ten hits which form part of the lifeblood of British popular music. Madness songs are considered to be comparable with those of the other great British bands like The Kinks, The Jam and even The Beatles; and Madness lyrics always reflect the issues of the day in a uniquely palatable way . Their ability to document serious issues within seemingly sweet pop songs has resulted in an influence on generations of musicians that cannot be overstated. Reverberations of Madness can be heard in the likes of The Smiths, Blur, Arctic Monkeys and a host of other huge acts that came in their wake.

When Top Of The Pops rocketed Suggs, Chas, Barzo, Woody, Chrissy, Thommo and Bedders into our living rooms with The Prince in 1979, the band became an institution almost overnight. Spearheading the 2Tone Ska revival, along with The Specials, Madness went on to have an almost uninterrupted run of 14 hits in the early 80s, totalling sales of over 6 million singles.

One Step Beyond…, Madness’ debut album, stayed in the charts for nearly a year, cementing its position as one of the most seminal albums of the period. When Absolutely was released the following year (1980), Madness mania had the country in its grip and there wasn’t a kid in the UK who didn’t know the words to - and appreciate the sentiment of - the consummate schooldays anthem ‘Baggy Trousers’. Not content with dominating the music charts, Madness also made the film, Take It Or Leave It, an autobiographical account of the band’s beginnings and rise to popularity, with the band members playing themselves. It’s considered a must-see movie for Madness fans and music lovers alike.

7 followed in 1981, signalling a change of direction for the band, who were moving away from their Nutty Boy mod image and sound towards a more mature sensibility; illustrated to devastating effect on the single ‘Grey Day’. It was around this time they released the non-album single ‘It Must Be Love’, a Labi Siffre cover and the song that would provide them with a fail-safe, feel-good, sing-a-long highlight in every show they’ve played since.

The Rise & Fall, arguably the boys’ magnum opus, was released in 1982 and provided them with their most internationally successful single ever, ‘Our House’. Again, a non-album single was released during this time and ‘House Of Fun’ – a seedy but fun coming-of-age tale - went straight to the UK number one slot and stayed in the charts for nine weeks.

Keep Moving, released the year after, marked (albeit temporarily) the end of Madness as they were known, with keyboardist Mike Barson leaving the band soon after to spend time with his family. ‘Michael Caine’, the album’s biggest single, was an uncharacteristically sombre affair, while the accompanying non-album singles ‘Wings Of A Dove’ and ‘The Sun And The Rain’ showcased Madness’ enduring talent for all-out fun and unparalleled bittersweet pop respectively.

1985 heralded the release of the band’s sixth album, the Barson-less Mad Not Mad. By this time, the UK’s pop landscape was looking considerably more polished and production was king. Despite the influence of its environment and the absence of a key songwriter, Mad Not Mad avoided falling foul of style-over-content criticisms and threw up some great singles in the form of ‘Yesterday’s Men’ and ‘Uncle Sam’. Still without Barson, the band had a break before releasing their next album, The Madness, in 1988.

In 1992, Madness fans were thrilled to learn that the boys would be hosting their very own festival. Madstock! took place on the weekend of 8th and 9th August in Finsbury Park and the band appeared with their original line-up. It was a resounding success, with over 75,000 fans witnessing the reunion of the band they loved; a band who hadn’t played all together since Mike Barson left in 1984. So lively was the gig that during a performance of ‘One Step Beyond…’ a mini earthquake was reported, measuring five on the Richter scale. Madness were back.

Madness concerts are always an event and three more Madstocks were held over the years that followed (in 1994, 1996 and 1998) and the band continued to reunite for annual Christmas season tours. In 1999 they released their first studio album proper since 1986. Wonderful reached #17 in the UK album charts, with single ‘Lovestruck’ giving the band their first Top Ten hit in the UK since 1983.

Ten years and a few solo projects later, Madness returned with The Liberty Of Norton Folgate in 2009, a concept album and psycho-geographical love letter to their favourite stomping ground – London. Preceded by a series of vaudevillian shows at the Hackney Empire and an accompanying film by Julien Temple, the album was acclaimed - both commercially and critically – and universally received as one of their best. Spurred on by the warm reaction to their return to form, the band kept a high profile with numerous festival appearances over that summer and a legendary performance at the Camden Crawl in London, when Inverness Street was blocked off and the band performed from the top of a double decker bus. The obligatory Christmas tour ensued, complete with matinee shows for the kids and the band’s very own ‘Total Madness’ routemaster bus.

Over the last two years, Union Square Music have been busy remastering and expanding the original Madness albums. One Step Beyond…, Absolutely, 7, The Rise & Fall, Keep Moving and Wonderful have all been lovingly repackaged in digipacks with videos and extra tracks and full colour booklets containing lyrics and liner notes by the likes of Irvine Welsh, Phil Jupitus and David Quantick. With best ofs Complete Madness, Total Madness and Ultimate Madness still catering to new fans, the die-hards were treated to a definitive box set ’A Guided Tour Of Madness’ in 2011 which included all of their hit singles, favourite album tracks, the slowed-down version of Baggy Trousers (Le Grand Pantalon) recorded for the Kronenbourg TV ads, plus their classic 1992 reunion concert at Madstock on DVD.

The band stole the show at the 2012 Diamond Jubilee concert for The Queen, where they serenaded Her Majesty from the roof of Buckingham Palace with ’Our House’ and ’It Must Be Love’, while projecting groundbreaking animations onto the front of the palace.

Having played Mexico and the US in 2012, with great success, the band then went on to release their tenth studio album Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da, which was released in late 2012. 2014 sees them undertaking numerous festival and racecourse appearances as well as their fourth House Of Fun Weekender at Butlins in Minehead and a UK Christmas arena M.A.D.H.E.A.D tour.

On the 16/10/2014, Madness celebrated their 35th anniversary by releasing a 35th anniversary version of One Step Beyond.

The Madness legend continues, making them one of the most important heritage (and current) acts that Britain has ever produced.

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