Album Review – Madness

Madness madstock

Madness – ‘Madstock!’ (Salvo)

This document brings together the reunion shows from a weekend in 1992 when Madness played live for the first time in six years…Yawn? Absolutely not!

Look: It’s easy to mock reunion tours as bands selling out, or simply being in it for the money – though it’s tempting to wonder as you get older whether the people who make these sorts of judgments aren’t responsible for keeping roofs over the heads of dependents. While this could be a naff document, the reality is that it shows Madness as being a band who meant – and mean – a helluva lot to many people, and who amassed a pretty damn amazing back catalogue. They may have seemed like they were just b
playing it for laughs, but they were a band with social commentary, and writers of one of the greatest bittersweet love songs ever in ‘My Girl.’

It’s not just a trawl through the hits – though they had many, and many are featured here. There’s also other tracks like ‘Bed and Breakfast Man’ and some of the smaller hits like ‘The Sun And The Rain’ and ‘Driving In My Car.’ Sure, the run through Jimmy Cliff’s ‘The Harder They Come’ falls a bit flat, though they thankfully didn’t bring out their cover of Scritti Politti’s The ‘Sweetest Girl” [yes, that punctuation is meant to be like that!). Of course, they made Labi Siffre’s ‘It Must Be Love’ their own – and that’s here, too.

Above all, what this is – and this is not something to be sniffed at – is that this is a band who came back together to headline their own festival, and absolutely nailed it. It could have been a tired rehash, a pointless exercise in nostalgia, and yet it was a band who demonstrated that they could not only work but hold a crowd. It helps that the sound quality is excellent – with a crowd who are clearly having a great time, and demonstrating just how much they should be considered one of the important bands who evolved out of the post-punk era.

With so many Madness compilations out there, there may be those who wonder whether there’s any point in a bringing together of the songs again. Undoubtedly, this is a worthwhile album. The thrill of band and audience as the feed off of each other crosses over to the record, ‘Shut Up’ being one of those moments where the audience are utterly as spellbinding as the band.

****

Madstock is out now on Salvo

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