In the Spring of 2011 Lee Thompson and Mark Bedford, two founder-members of Madness, convened at a rehearsal studio in Hackney with the idea of playing - and paying tribute to - the kind of music that had inspired them as teenagers. They enlisted an assortment of musicians whose playing they respected and with whom they enjoyed playing. The idea was to have fun; perhaps do a few gigs; and take it from there.
So far so good. But the project seemed to take on a life of its own. The gigs were well received and a joy to play. The next logical step was to try and capture the energy and joy of these performances on tape - old style. So the band convened at The Ironworks in Brighton, home of Mike Pelanconi - aka Prince Fatty - famed for his ability to capture the authentic sound of the Studio 1 sessions of the 1960's and 70's in Jamaica.
The results were so impressive that Dave Robinson, founder of Stiff Records, got involved and suggested a guest vocalist would add immeasurably to the mix. Enter Bitty McLean (producer of UB40 etc.) who contributed his vocal skills on a selected track single Fu Man Chu. The Benevolence Of Sister Mary Ignatius
is the result, in tribute to that excellent lady who opened & ran the 'Alpha School for Boys' which offered education and opportunity to several of the earliest Jamaican ska musicians.
It was a joy to make and heralds Summer, even in the depths of Winter. A soothing, sun dappled balm to the ears; a dance inducing treat; an escape from the everyday cares and worries of the modern world. Try it . . . you'll see!