Superficially, Madness seemed to be a lightweight pop group who had a lot of fun, but some of their songs had a lot of depth. I've seen them compared to the Kinks - both groups having (in their different eras) offered interesting insights into London life. This is high praise indeed so although I wouldn't quite put Madness on the same level as the Kinks, their music has far more to offer than you might think.
Between 1979 and 1983, Madness had fifteen UK top ten hits and two UK top twenty hits. Taking their group name from a Prince Buster song, their first hit (The Prince) was a tribute to him and their second hit (One step beyond) was a cover of one of Prince Buster's songs. They later had another cover hit with It must be love (Labi Siffre) but wrote most of their own material.
Their biggest UK hits were House of fun (UK number one) and Wings of a dove (UK number two - an original song, not a cover of the old gospel standard), but they also made the UK top five with My girl, Baggy trousers, Embarrassment, Grey day, It must be love, Driving in my car, Our house and The sun and the rain.
After one of their members quit in 1983, the hits generally became smaller although Madness continued to make great music. They disbanded in 1986 but have re-formed intermittently since then. One such reunion (with the original line-up) recorded a new album in 1999, which yielded the UK top ten hit Lovestruck and another great song, Johnny the horse, both featured here.
Their first hits compilation was titled Complete Madness and their second was called Utter Madness. Between them, these two volumes (both available on CD) contain every UK hit of the eighties, however minor, but do not cover their 1999 comeback. This compilation covers their whole career and contains all the essentials and some of the minor hits. If you just want one Madness CD, make it this one.