Madness was formed in 1977, by three school friends. They underwent several line ups until settling on the seven piece they had for their first album, One Step Beyond, which was a ska classic and was realesed during the ska revival of the late seventies. After the success of One Step Beyond, they went on to realese their second album, Absolutely.
Line up :
Graham "Suggs" McPherson- Vocals
Chris Foreman- Guitar
Mike Barson- Keyboard, piano
Mark Bedford- Bass
Lee Thompson- Sax
Dan Woodgate- Drums
Chas Smash- Trumpet, vocals
Absolutely was realesed in late 1980 on Stiff Records, and blends a mix of second wave ska and British pop. The album was well recieved just like One Step Beyond. Both albums are relaitivly similiar, although the sound had progressed some what.
The album kicks of with Baggy Trousers (the albums first single) which is a positive look at the bands school life. This track opens with a quick ring on an old school bell and then bursts into the song. Although it features a simple drum beat and probably no more then two chords, this song is relativly enjoyable and is probably one of the bands best singles. The next track Embarrassment (another single), bursts in with a couple of crash cymbel hits and a chord from the sax and guitar. Unlike Baggy trousers this song is relativly poppy and signifies the bands entry into a more poppy style of music. This song is relativly enjoyable and features a great sax solo and catchy guitar riff. E.R.N.I.E. follows and is more of a ska orientated song. Again a catchy guitar riff and strong saxaphone playing. Track 4. Close Escape is another strong track and is another ska-orientated song, and features a stronger (but still simple) drum beat.
The next song Not Home Today is a bit of a disapointment compared to the previous tracks. It has more of a dub feeling to it but feels a bit week. On The Beat Pete, is a song about a friend joining the police force and is a rather fun song supported by a strong ska guitar riff. Solid Gone is a bizarre track for this album for two reasons. 1. Chas Smash takes over vocals and his voice sounds a bit out of place for this particular album. 2. The song it self sounds like a dated 1950's rock song. Not one of the stronger tracks. Take It Or Leave It, is another weak track on the album and like Not Home Today, has a sort of dub feel to it.
Shadow Of Fear, the next track, increases the tempo for the album, but is a strong track for the album and is about being stalked at night. Disappear is another strong track with a great rythm and catchy piano solo and is one of their tracks that should have been made a single.
Overdone undermines the previous two tracks and has the smell of filler around it. In The Rain is another track with a fast tempo and is a relief fom the previous track. Again this song has a ska feeling to it and the lyrics are enjoyable.
The last two tracks are well chosen to end the album. You Said, is another dub number and is a bit more melancholy compared to the rest of the albums tracks. The last track, Return Of The Los Palmas 7, is a quirky instumental featuring admirable piano playing and strong guitar and sax playing. A well chosen ender.
Overall this album is one of Madness's stronger ones. Probably second best, after One Step Beyond. The production is admirable and their is relativly no interference in the albums sound. The guitar and piano playing is strong throughout and the sax playing is excellent. The lyrics are quite inspired, if simple in places. The down sides are the dub numbers and the bass and drum playing which sound pretty simple. Apart from that a pretty outstanding ska album from the days of second wave ska.
On The Beat Pete
Return Of The Los Palmas 7
Not home today
Take it or leave it
Please rate this review but bare in mind it is my first. Cheers.