Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Madness - Madness Presents The Rise and Fall (1982)


  

Released October 1982

This was where Madness made efforts to break slightly away from the madcap "nutty" sound of their first three albums. There had always been hints of The Kinks and Squeeze in their wry, often witty social observation songs, but on this album they really went for it, producing a series of mini-masterpieces, kitchen sink pop at its best. The now iconic, and oh-so British, "Our House" was the stand-out track, of course (it is marvellously evocative and singalong). Otherwise, however, the songs are far more well-crafted and even reflective and laid-back, while still retaining that archetypal Madness ska/accessible reggae sound. A great example is the little-mentioned, but excellent "Are You Coming (With Me)" and also the comparatively sombre title track.

Lots of the songs are influenced by the characters of London life, and lower class London life at that, similarly to the "riff-raff" that populated Ian Dury's songs. Great characterisation within three minute pop songs. A skill Madness never lost. They are such a London band, full of all the atmosphere of the city. They briefly go abroad, however, in the infectious "New Delhi", with its Eastern musical influences. What a great song. "Blue Skinned Beast" has a few echoes of something like "My Girl" from their debut album, except that it is about Margaret Thatcher. "Tomorrow's Just Another Day" was a single, but not a nutty, frenetic dancing one. It was a solemn, philosophical one from a vast-maturing band. If some liveliness was still needed, though, "Tiptoes" is a staccato and infectious number, with some great piano and percussion.

There is such a lot of music-hall style wit and clever observation in this swirling cornucopia of songs. It has the very first seeds of their eventual masterpiece, 2010's "The Liberty Of Norton Folgate" within it. Listen to "Primrose Hill" as an example and the rumbustious, almost pantomime fun of  "Mr. Speaker Gets The Word".

It is often overlooked just how good a band Madness were instrumentally and on this album, there is more intricacy than on the first few albums. They were definitely learning their trade and improving on it. Overall, this is an effervescent and big-hearted album from a group that were becoming more inventive, lyrically and musically, with each album.

The "deluxe edition" contains some excellent quality "BBC Sessions" material.

B-

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