February 13, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Madness (now)

More than any other band of the two tone era Madness have managed to hold their fanbase together -- and even grow it in some ways. Over the years from their biggest hits, from the time of their most popularity, the band has managed to hang on to their ccre fans and once again build upon that.

It doesn't hurt to be a sort of British hometown fave, a group that Brits just seem to love. And boy do they ever. These days Madness is as popular or more so than they were thirty years ago at the birth of the whole two tone movement. And that is saying something when you realize that from 1980-1986 Madness "spent 214 weeks on the UK singles charts" holding the record with UB40 of all groups. According to Wikiepdia, which means it has to be true, "the record for most weeks spent by a group in the 1980s UK singles charts."

But this is about how great Madness are now. During the first part of the century they performed and recorded under the name "Dangermen" -- treating audiences to ska an reggae hits of past and present, as well as covers of pop songs done in a rock steady, ska sort of vibe. And it wasn't just recording, they found their live sets more and more popular. So much so that every year in the UK now there is something called Madstock. That's right, they got their own ridiculously outrageous musical festival. And they record new stuff now and again -- now being now, but again being their 2005 CD. So it was new covers on the 2005 release they did. That's okay, when they're good covers! In addition, this spring their slated for an all new release of original material. So far, so good.

One of the recent singles was "Sorry." So "Sorry," indeed. "Sorry" is reportedly one of the first songs from the forthcoming album (coming in March, the single forthcame last year!) The song doesn't know whether it wants to be a cool ska song, or some sort of aging skanksters attempt at hip hop. While it isn't a bad song, it's hard to see it inspire a new generation of ska fans. But the last release by the band, The Dangerman Sessions, was definitely inspirational, and one of those that aging bands should do more of. They don't necessarily have anything new or relevant to say, but you just have to love how they sound when they say something we've heard before. So, why not a really cool covers album. And there you have it. One of the best covers albums of all time (and there have been some good ones by The Ramones, The Dickies and The Postmarks), The Dangerman Sessions. It includes a number of interesting and unique covers like "Lola," "John Jones," "Taller Than You Are," and "Isrealites." But none fit Madness more than one very quirky song with a clever twist.
This song here was one of the faves from that release, a Calypso favorite for years and years before that. And then Peter Tosh made it a reggae favorite as well. "Shame and Scandal" is the perfect sort of song for Madness to cover. It has family quirks, societal taboos, a clever hook, a memorable melody, and is just catchy enough for everyone to remember. All that adds up to Madness.

Madness Shame and Scandal