Madness, madness, they call it madness!


As a kid,  just started as an apprentice in the shipyards in the late 70s, music was changing from glam and prog rock,  to punk and the more commercial new wave.  

Forget the Sex Pistols as Punks,  that was a commercial operation.   They may have made punk popular but real punk happened in pubs and clubs with guys who could barely play. 

For a truer representation, compare The Exploited to The Stranglers,  Exploted were more local boys with songs of raw anger were the  Stranglers were already hardened musicians,  rockers who consciously associated themselves  with the popular punk derived themes of anarchy, apathy and rebellion but adding sexual themes and a groove rather than the raw anger of punk. 
Consequently The Stranglers enjoyed commercial success and gained a following including myself who still fill halls in Glasgow each year to tune in to the songs of our youth. 

Then along came Ska around 1979/80. . Well for the second time as it had originally arrived in the U.K. from Jamaica in the 60s but was not widely popular then. 

Certainly not in Glasgow which at the time wasn’t as culturally diverse as it is these days. 

The main two proponents of Ska were Madness and The Specials both in the Two Tone label with less popular bands including The Selector and Bad Manners. 

I loved Madness’ first two singles from 1979,  The Prince,  a homage to Prince Buster from the original Ska movement and One Step Beyond.     These were different to what was going on at the time,  more danceable than punk and less commercial than disco. 

At the same time The Specials released Gangsters and A Message To You Rudy following it up in 1980 with the more political Too Much Too Young. 

Compare that with with Madness 1980 releases of My Girl and Baggy Trousers, which although had a Ska rhythm were essentially pure pop. 

Being a young music-snob,  or arse,  I lost interest in them at that time. 

But you have to agree that Madness have lasted the distance, still touring and releasing albums.    

It was with some intrepidation that I agreed to go and see them with brother 2 at The Glasgow Hydro on Thursday night. 

He’s 2 years younger than me and didn’t mind when Ska became pop, 2 years is a long time when you’re a kid and developing your own style. 

But Madness are known for putting on a great gig and I was more than pleasantly surprised as the place was packed and jumping including Duncan and myself bouncing around to all the pop hits including my favourite Our House as it strikes a memory of how it was back then. 

Pop it might be,  but it has lasted the rest of time because the stories of the songs resonate in peoples life’s as they grew up and maybe became less of an arse along the way. 

Madness musically were terrific,    Monsier Barso on keyboard, Kix on saxophone and Suggs who can still hold a tune and an audience. 

These guys have been around a long time and are comfortable in their own skins and having fun on stage which transfers and encourages the audience who reflect it dancing and singing along with every tune. 

A real feel good gig and next the play Glasgow I’ll be getting the tickets early. 

Their new album is worth a listen, I particularly like Grand Slam, Herbert and Blackbird. 

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