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4.6 out of 5 stars18
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 2 April 2012
As the subject line suggests this album is only really worth buying if you're a total Madness novice, without a great deal of their music in your collection already, or a completist who has to buy everything they have done to go in your collection.

If you're the former then this is a good starting point on your journey into Madness - you get most of the hits, plus a good sampling of album tracks besides and all at a very good price - although personally, and if you're willing to spend a little more money, I'd recommend the "A Guided Tour Of Madness" boxset released in 2011 that is very similar to this offering but comes with 3 CD's containing all the hits and plenty of album tracks besides, as well as a DVD of the band's triumphant 1992 reunion gig "Madstock" that spawned a thousand re-union gigs....and an earthquake!!

As a fan of many years standing who has all of their non-greatest hits albums, as well as many of the greatest hits that have been released down the years (Total Madness, Divine Madness, and Ultimate Madness to name a few) I already have everything on this album at least once, and in some cases numerous times, so I shan't be buying this latest compilation in it's entirety - although I have of course downloaded the two "previously unreleased" tracks, which is what I suspect a lot of other die hard fans will be doing.

The two previously unreleased tracks are a cover of Jimmy Cliff's "Vietnam" and a ska'd up version of classical piece "Hall Of The Mountain King" by Grieg. The former is a good cover of a little known song with all the usual Madness hallmarks. Personally I'm not a great fan of "Hall Of The Mountain King" which in parts sounds like it was knocked together for a video game, it does build well to an energetic ending, but doesn't come anywhere close to being as good as the other Madness "classical music" cover "Swan Lake" which can also be found on this compilation. That said I can see it becoming an "encore favourite" when the band play live - which neatly leads me on to another point about the album, it's actually the kind of set list I would love to see the band play live (especially given that the 24 songs you get are about the right length for a gig), giving a greater emphasis to their much under-rated album tracks rather than just churning out the greatest hits with a smattering of album tracks every now and then.

So 3 stars for the musical content - minus 2 stars for this being yet another compilation that has been done several times (and better) before.
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VINE VOICEon 2 April 2012
It very rare for a year to go by without a Madness compilation being released, so why should you buy this you may ask? Firstly Madness Forever Young The Ska Collection is a completely different type of collection and consists of a variety of Madness songs including a few of the big singles, several album tracks and a few b-sides. The big selling point of course is the fact that you get two previously unreleased tracks which were originally intended for the 2005 album The Dangermen Sessions. Both of these tracks are well worth a listen.
Another highlight is the fold out sleeve notes consisting of a short biography of the band, including new interviews with Chrissy Boy and Lee Thompson, a poster and plenty of photos.
My only grumble is the sub-title 'The Ska Collection' as it is quite misleading as although some of Madness's ska style tracks such as 'The Prince', 'The Communicator' and 'One Step Beyond' are included other classic Madness ska tunes are missing and instead you get the albeit brilliant Victoria Gardens' which is hardly ska.
Other than that this is a good compilation, its nice to hear some of Madness's lesser known tracks.
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on 8 April 2012
Forever Young The Ska Collection

Or the compilation that went one step beyond being absolutely Mad Not Mad. But hey, baby needs shoes and the record company has to keep moving. And so the madness continues...

The result is that for only the second time in their long career a Madness compilation is themed. Last time it was the songs used in the Our House musical. This time it's their ska songs. Or to be more precise it's songs which contain even the smallest trace of nuts sorry I mean ska. At a time when small fortunes are being made with compilation titles such as Ska Madness it makes sense for Madness to stick out an album of their more ska songs.

This then is an album which brings together seven of their hit singles (all from their 1979-1983 chart peak years) and a whole host of album and/or b side tracks. This is supplemented by two of the singles from latest hit album The Liberty Of Norton Folgate, which had no chance of being hits in this modern era of massive single sales.

Probably of most interest to the casual punter who might have seen Madness live is Tarzan's Nuts which is now roughly 3 years into a live revival. For the more dogged Madness fan there are two previously unheard songs from their Dangermen Sessions sessions. Jimmy Cliff's Vietnam is pointlessly covered. Whether is it used a metaphor for more recent wars the fact is that governments do not care and do not listen. More lives will be wasted in pursuit of nothing much at all. Personally I'd have represented The Rise And Fall album by including Blue Skinned Beast here if a war song was needed. Interestingly the lyrics to Vietnam may have indirectly influenced a couple of Madness songs in Overdone and Mrs Hutchinson both of which recount tales of a breakdown in communication when some form of institution is involved. Vietnam is the army, Overdone is prison or borstal and Mrs Hutchinson is hospitals.

On a much more positive note, the other previously unreleased song, In The Hall Of The Mountain King is covered with increasing gusto as this compilation's closing track. Possibly dropped from The Dangermen Sessions when Pigbag was chosen as an encore closing show stopper, Mountain King is (ironically a mouthfulof a title) a catchy instrumental. Ska fans may or may not agree that it somewhat inspired the Dub Pistols and Terry Hall on their year 2000 hit Problem Is. I detect a pleasing similarity. The intro is also reminiscent of the eastern jam Mike Barson plays as the live prelude to Night Boat To Cairo.

There's also some half decent sleeve notes in packaging that folds out to make a poster. Ideal for your average Madness fan in his late 40s, wishing he were forever young in waist-size and knee-bounciness as well as in the mind!

Anyone buying this album as a purist ska fan may be slightly disappointed. They will be getting a good collection of songs, but they won't be strictly ska. Some are full on ska covers and Madness originals. Some are much closer to reggae. On the bulk you will find Madness producing their brilliant blend of pop with an element of ska either played by one or more members or hinted at in the lyrical tics and shouts that became a Madness trademark from day one. As such there's something going on on the off beat somewhere in all of these songs, regardless of how far removed the song seems from traditional ska. Most often it'll be Chrissy Boy's guitar or one of Mike's multi-layered keyboard parts. Failing that Lee will be parping out a rhythmic part on his sax as opposed to one of his more melodic blows.

Fans of Madness' hit singles would probably be wise to look elsewhere. I'm one of those completist fans, the type that wants to own everything the band releases, but I find this album difficult to listen to in one go. An actor friend of mine likes to paraphrase Andy Partridge (ex of XTC) as saying that Madness were the prog-ska band of the 2Tone revival era. Partridge may have been correct in that Madness did far more with their sound than just play straight up and down ska, but when you bundle all of these songs together they leave me wanting something else. Perhaps that's the idea? This is brilliant appetiser to dip into, but I'd advise most potential buyers to buy this AND one of Madness' studio album so you can enjoy a main course rather than stuffing yourself on starters, no matter how good they are. In that respect this album is perhaps Too Much Forever Young?

Probably not coming soon: It Must Be Love-The Love Collection, hotly followed by Driving In My Car-The Road Collection and Our House Of Fun The Dwellings Collection.

Coming as soon as they can finish it will be a new studio album, which will yet again prove they are not content to sit on their laurels churning out the old stuff. Here's hoping it's ready soon as you can't keep a good thing down.
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on 3 September 2012
OK, first up, this is a great collection of songs by the greatest band in the world, and as many other reviewers suggest, is a great introduction to the band, so why only three stars?

I'd been meaning to do a Madness Ska playlist on the old iPod for ages, and when I saw this was released, I thought, hey! A shortcut!

But twas not to be. This collection doesn't feature all of the bands great ska classics, and yet it does feature a lot of songs (brilliant though they may be) that aren't really ska at all.

Oh well, back to iTunes.

On the plus side, it does have two tracks you can't get anywhere else as far as I know, although the fact that these are seemingly both rejects from the Dangermen sessions probably says a lot.
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on 21 March 2013
What can you say after listening to the man sing "The liberty of norton 360!?" kidding "The liberty of norton folgate" still fun after death & resurrection! with the immortal words ...."A needle & thread ,the hand stitches of time,the battling lavinski versus jackie burke,bobbing and weaving invisible line..".Thankyou Graham for all them acute angles. .
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on 8 June 2012
As a Madness fan from long ago & owner of other Madness compilations, this one has been in my CD player since I received it. Love it completely! This is only one that includes original recordings of "The Prince" & "Swan Lake" from their first album. I love "Forever Young" from "The Liberty of Norton Folgate" & the bonus tracks were excellent.
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on 6 May 2015
This madness cd has 22 tracks it contains a great mix from various albums , it also contains 2 previously unreleased tracks which are Vietnam and In the hall of the mountain king.if you love madness then this cd is well worth the money and will not disappoint you.
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on 26 June 2012
superb cd music is still fresh....and two new bonus tracks excellent!!madness to this day are still vibrant....go see them live!!!!!!!!!
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on 2 April 2012
I HAVE BEEN A FAN OF MADNESS SINCE 1979.THEY HAVE RELEASED A FEW HITS COMPILATIONS OVER THE YEARS WHICH I HAVE BOUGHT
THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST INCORPORATING HIT SINGLE TRACKS WITH SELECTED TRACKS FROM THEIR ALBUMS.THERE IS TWO BONUS TRACKS ON HERE TOO,VIETNAM & IN THE HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING.ALL DIE HARD MADNESS FANS WILL BUY THIS SIMPLY FOR THE
TWO BONUS TRACKS,IT IS WORTH BUYING THIS ALBUM TO LISTEN TOO HOW MADNESS' MUSIC HAS PROGRESSED OVER THE LAST 33 YEARS,I FOR ONE RECOMMEND THIS TO ALL NEW FANS OF MADNESS YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.
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on 15 March 2013
Madness, one to to have for car, its not what I would call Ska, but then I would be showing my age, still excellent Madness
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