Following the truly magnificent `Liberty Of Norton Folgate', I have been eagerly awaiting the next release from Madness, and finally! Here it is.
With their last few releases they have constantly confounded my expectations by taking new directions. There were the excellent covers on `The Dangerman Sessions Vol 1'. Then, when I was expecting Vol 2 to be released, with more of the same, they released the mighty aforementioned `Liberty', a grand concept album that just blew me away. For their latest release they seem to have changed tack again, and recorded a stunning set of songs full of introspection and looking back over their musical career, while still containing the energy, humour and distinctive 2 tone nutty sound they made famous.
The album opens with `My Girl 2', a sequel to one of their best known early hits. But now instead of a relationship with his girlfriend, the singer is older, wiser, and talking about a relationship with his daughter. And so it goes, with song after song that seem very personal to members of the band, but are accessible and great to listen to. My personal favourite after a listen or two is `Death of a Rude Boy', which sounds very much like a tribute to Ian Dury (not the first Suggs has recorded - the excellent `Oranges and Lemons' on Jools Holland and Friends was also a tribute to Dury).
The band were on form in the recording studio, after all these years working together they are a seamless unit, each knowing just what is required. They get right into the groove, and deliver just what they have always delivered, a damn fine set of get you up and dancing songs with wit and vigour. An excellent album, and one that will be looked on as one of their better recordings, a bright burning light even in the shadow of their previous release.
5 stars, and long may they continue!