Madness were (and still are) a seven piece band who achieved tremendous UK success in the early to mid eighties. Originally named "The North London Invaders", they were formed in 1976 from the remnants of the Punk era. To this day the band have an incredible chart track-record, which even surpasses groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, for consecutive UK top ten singles. Their most famous tracks include..."One Step Beyond", "Baggy Trousers", "Grey Day", "It Must Be Love", "House Of Fun" (surprisingly their only UK number one), "Our House" (which also gained them deserved recognition in the States), and "Uncle Sam".
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In the UK to date, Madness have released an impressive 28 singles (including re-releases), 11 albums (including compilations), 2 Box Set compilations, 5 Video's, and even managed to star in their own movie "Take It Or Leave It".
Formed in London in 1978, Madness went on to widespread popularity in the U.K. and Europe, boasting the lineup of singer Graham "Suggs" McPherson, emcee-dancer-trumpeter Carl "Chas Smash" Smyth, sax player Lee "Kix" Thompson, guitarist Chris "Chrissie Boy" Foreman, bassist Mark "Bedders" Bedford, drummer Dan "Woody" Woodgate and keyboardist Mike Barson.
From their debut, One Step Beyond (1979) - the song "One Step Beyond," also included on Total Madness, is viewed by many as the band's signature tune - to Absolutely (1980) to Madness 7 (1981), Madness expanded the boundaries of popular music with their mix of Jamaican rhythms, American R&B grooves and an English music hall sensibility. Still, in the U.S. their success was belated and never fully matched that they enjoyed elsewhere.
Madness released their self-titled U.S. debut on Geffen Records in 1983. From that disc came the #7 pop hit "Our House' and the Top 40 "It Must Be Love.' Two other Geffen albums followed: Keep Moving (1984) and Mad Not Mad (1985).
Meanwhile, in the U.K., Madness had become one of the most successful singles acts ever - the New Musical Express named them "Singles Artists of the Year' in 1980 for their 46-week residency on the charts that year. In the early and mid-'80s, the band claimed more than a dozen Top 10 hits, among them the Total Madness cuts "Tomorrow's Just Another Day,' "Shut Up," "Grey Day,' "The Sun and the Rain' and' Wings of a Dove (A Celebratory Song)," as well as "Our House" and "It Must Be Love." "Michael Caine" and "Yesterday's Men" reached the U.K. Top 20. In 1982, a collection of the band's videos called "Complete Madness" was a U.K. best-seller.
Today's ska frenzy is actually the third go-round for the distinctive form. A precursor of reggae, it had its initial heyday with the English "mods' of the 1960s. Also known as skank, bluebeat, and rock-steady, ska is considered by many to be an antecedent of rap and dance hall (in ska, as in dance hall, the talk-singing passages are called "toasting"). Then, in the late '70s, London teenagers tossed '60s R&B and new wave into the mix - as well as baggy trousers, pork-pie hats, dark glasses and other 'rude-boy' insignia.
Leaders of this second wave of ska, Madness disbanded in 1986, briefly reformed with an altered lineup in 1988, and staged their own summer "Madstock" festivals in the U.K. from 1992 through 1996. Despite their lack of sustained mainstream success in America, their so-called "nutty sound" has remained an important force on the pop landscape. In fact, no less than Dicky Barreft of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones penned the liner notes to Total Madness, in which he confesses, "The task of writing about a band that has meant so much to me and my friends is an enormous one." Given the renewed interest in Madness, the band is weighing the possibility of reconvening for a series of live dates.
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