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Aron (Edgware)

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Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da
Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £5.49

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The four styles of Madness brought beautifully together, 8 Nov. 2012
It's always been hard to pin down Madness' music style, which is one reason they are so interesting. Broadly speaking I feel their music falls into four categories, all of which are evenly demonstrated on Oui oui, si si, ja ja, da da.

Style 1: Fast Rocksteady, often knees-up party pieces. More typical of early material with songs such as One Step Beyond and Baggy Trousers.
Style 2: Slower heavily ska-rooted. Features all through their career with tracks such as Grey Day and Forever Young from The Liberty of Norton Folgate.
Style 3: Upbeat nutty, ska influenced. Very much a trademark sound across many albums and typified by The Sun & The Rain from 1983 and NW5 from 2008
Style 4: Slower and sublime. A more hit and miss category which when they get it right has produced some of their greatest songs, such as It Must Be Love and One Better Day.

As I like all four styles this album is easy for me to give 4-stars to. If you prefer one or more styles over the others, it's a question of allowing some of the tracks to grow on you a bit.

Here's how the tracks break down by style

Style 1: Misery will certainly have the crowds bouncing at the up and coming tour. Reminiscent of the song Madness this is trademark Music Hall and just great fun. And the break to Beethoven's 5th Symphony in the middle made me chuckle a bit and shows an appreciation of classical music that started with Swan Lake on One Step Beyond.

So Alive and Black and Blue are both energetic and instantly danceable. Musically aligned with the album Madness 7 they tell the stories of middle-aged men in typically witty Madness style.

Style 2: Three songs in a row take this route. When Madness use violins, it always adds dimension. And La Luna has this in buckets; a beautifully laid back track with brass sections support.

How Can I Tell You is a reminiscing father to daughter advice song that starts with a reggae-like verse but migrates to a catchy chorus, with delightful rhyming couplets. Kitchen Floor is a slightly creepy track about a man's dithering sexual relationship with his wife.

Then there is Death of a Rude Boy, that takes a lot of influence from their 2-Tone counterparts The Specials showing that Madness can still create new material heavily rooted in serious ska.

Style 3: My Girl 2 is a glorious sequel to the 1980 original. Unusually dominated by Hammond-organ sounds of the 60s, there are two versions of this. The first reminds me of Green Onions by Booker T and the MGs. The slower second version and last track on the album has an amazing Doors sounding keyboard solo in the middle.

Never Knew Your Name has a touch of sublime in it too. It contains clever string and brass arrangements telling the story of a man looking back at a missed opportunity to find love, he seems to regret.

Then there is the simply brilliant Leon. Very similar to That Close from the previous album, this track has shades of Sunny Afternoon by The Kinks. I was surprised and delighted to see it is written by drummer Daniel Woodgate and his brother Nick. Whilst Woody has not been one of the most prolific writers over the years he has made a fantastic contribution this time around, writing three of the tracks.

Style 4: As they are less influenced by ska these tracks do take more time to come accustomed too. For me, Powder Blue is a beautiful song and the most sophisticated on the album. There are some quite complex chord patterns towards the end here, flying in the face of the usual simpler, catchy ones. Circus Freaks and Small World are trickier to pinpoint and the only two fillers for me.

Whilst a lot of these songs' subjects might seem a little negative and depressing, the album no way comes across as such. Indeed, the whole album is a quite humorous observation of the Madness lifestage, offset against the irony of mostly joyous sounds.

So overall an excellent set, which benefits from different members all contributing their own essence to the varying styles of the group. Whilst not quite up there with of the masterpiece that was The Liberty of Norton Folgate, Oui Oui, Si Si, Ja Ja, Da Da is a fantastic addition to the Madness catalogue that will be hard for them to better next time out.

The Liberty Of Norton Folgate
The Liberty Of Norton Folgate
Offered by Rapid-DVD
Price: £6.19

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most extraordinarily fantastic title track of all time, 19 May 2009
As a huge Madness fan from the beginning, I always felt their best period of writing music came just after their huge run of Top 10 hits, from Rise & Fall to Mad Not Mad. Since then they released a solid album of new tracks in Wonderful and covers with The Dangermen and I have to say I thought perhaps it was time for them to call it a day.

When reading the media reviews for TLONF, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well received this album has been. Now that I've heard it myself I'm absolutely delighted to see how contemporary and fresh Madness sound.

I give it a 5-star as there are only a couple of slightly weaker tracks, whilst the high points are incredible. Madness sound crisp and optimistic throughout. Lyrics and stories are sharper than ever. Highlights for me are We are London, a glorious appreciation of the ecclectic mix of cultures that make up the Capital. Fabulous harmony on this one. Forever Young has the most catchy ska brass section, reminiscent of the Two-Tone bands. Dust Devil is a ska rooted track that might not capture you first time and then gets a bit infectious after you've heard it a few times. Written by Lee Thompson and Dan Woodgate, it reminds me a lot of the best work Lee did with Chris Foreman with spin off group Crunch. That Close is very much like the style Madness had with The Sun & The Rain in tempo, with tones of Embarrassment and the chromatic scales from Shut Up. MKII provides a break with a more laid back and slower tempo. On the Town has the most delightful chorus and is the only example I know of where Madness are supported by a female vocalist. The album version's vocals are performed by Rhoda Dakar, a favourite artist admired by many during the Two-Tone era. However, on the download version they are sung equally beautifully by Amber Jolene. It's good to see they included NW5, their single from 2008, on the playlist. Beautiful violin arrangements in this version and Suggs' melancholy voice make this a standout track. They save their best to last. Clerkenwell Polka brings a real smile to the face with an East European and German Oompa beat. The arrangements Madness can put together are really quite complex and show how they have moved on musically over the years.

Then there is the finale - The Liberty of Norton Folgate. I've read that some people find this a bit long at 10 minutes but have to disagree. This track is all of Madness in one amazing journey and I love it. The song has a number of different movements and is to Madness what Bohemian Rhapsody is to Queen or perhaps what Paranoid Android is to Radiohead. A cheeky nutty sounding opening 'with a little bit of this, would you like a bit of that' leads to Suggs telling us about the early history of the liberty. The track then gives way to a Vienesse Waltz section that talks about the darker side of life in the 1800s. Halfway through the song has a quick upbeat break about life around the area nowadays, with tradesmen trying to flog you whatever they can get a few bob for. The song then has the most amazing last 3 minutes. A riproaring ethnic and uplifting tale of how life changed with immigration. You don't quite know what to listen to, as so much is going on musically. Very prominent strings lead a kind of Asian influenced tango-like rhythm that you just feel you have to get up a dance to. What's incredible is that it all holds together and works. This song is more like a modern opera in 10 minutes and Madness deserve great credit for it.

Overall I very much hope this album does better than their last two because it's in a completely different class. I'm so pleased and excited to see a band I loved in my youth produce something so original.

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