on 30 October 2012
A fantastic release, accompanied by a marvellous tour (they played a set of 23 songs in Dusseldorf, Germany last week) and showing that the band isn`t running out of ideas even after more than 30 years in the music business. Compared to 'Liberty' they sound slightly fresher and more uptempo than before, grabbing the listener's attention with a timeless and grooving 'My girl 2' and finally leading to the classy earcatcher 'Death of a rude boy' with a snappy bassline that can be listened to again and again without getting boring. 'Oui Oui ...' is definitley a highlight, containing a fine mixture of ska, pop and rocksteady tunes which are a hallmark of excellence in this music genre for years to come. My personal favourites beside the aforementioned 'My girl 2' and 'Death of ...' are 'La Luna' and 'Kitchen floor'. Highly entertaining stuff where I'd simply say "YES" to a purchase!
on 29 October 2012
The boys are back & brilliant as ever. What more can you say they are still delivering good catchy magical tunes over 30 years since they started.
CD starts off with the My Girl 2 which grows on you more & more every time you here it & ends on a heavy Ska beat of Death of a Rude boy (if you do not include bonus tracks). If you are an old fan or new to Madness do get this CD you will not be disappointed with it. Also if you get the chance go & see them live it is a great happy fun filled experience not to be missed for fans of all ages & if not a fan you will by the end of a concert.
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!
It was always going to be hard for Madness to produce a decent follow up album to 2009's critically acclaimed The Liberty of Norton Folegate, but with Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da Madness have produced one of their finest albums ever.
The album consists of 13 beautiful pop songs, ranging from the up beat highs; 'Misery', 'So Alive', 'How Can I Tell You?' to deep emotional numbers such as; 'Never Knew Your Name', 'Powder Blue' and 'Leon'.
Madness have once again used the same ingredients as they always have done, as there is clear echoes from their previous out put that can be heard on this album. The track 'Misery' wouldn't feel out of place on the bands debut album 'One Step Beyond' and La Luna would fit nicely on 'The Rise and Fall'.
All 6 band members have had a hand in writing the songs on this album and you can tell, as there is so much variety in songs and styles. Not that that is a bad thing. The Madness stamp of quality is clear on every track. My personal favourites are 'So Alive', 'Misery' and 'Never Knew Your Name'.
Ultimately this is another strong outing from one of Britain's favourite bands and is probably better than the last one. If you want something upbeat and at the same time sad, this this is the album for you
on 8 November 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.
on 31 October 2012
It's been described elsewhere as a "clod hopping ska-by-numbers" piece of work, but for what it's worth "Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja The Da" is anything but that, in fact I'd go as far as to say that, odd sprinkling aside, there is not a great deal of ska to be found on the whole album - instead you have the trademark Madness sound that takes in their usual mix of pathos, social commentary and observation and sees some new influences bought in for good measure. "Never Knew Your Name" for instance has a distinctly disco feel which works well, the sublime "How Can I Tell You" is both catchy and crafted with a beautiful lyric whose "message from a parent to a child" theme resonates firmly with this particular Dad. "Misery" is a typical Madness stomper in the music hall style. "La Luna" with it's mariachi opening is wonderous. "Leon" and "Circus Freaks" are typical Madness pathos set against a well crafted tune. The only slight disappointment is the choice to open and start the album with latest single "My Girl 2" (which draws on both Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" and Fine Young Cannibal's "Good Thing" for it's Motown/Northern Soul infused influence) - would personally have preferred to see one of those spaces reserved for previous live favourite "Big Time Sister", but that's personal choice and nothing more.
All in all, not as good as it's predecessor, the wonderous "The Liberty Of Norton Folgate", but definitely a collection of very good songs that shows that old dogs CAN learn new tricks! 7.5/10
on 3 January 2013
This a very strong selection of songs, well played, and well-sung. Suggs' trademark timing is properly intact, his vocal double act with Carl now practised to perfection. There are some very effective brass arrangements and string parts, and, true to their punkish roots, none of the tracks outstays its welcome.
"How can I tell you" is a superb parent-to-child declaration of love, not in the least bit mawkish. As a forty-something Dad, I can relate to this song whole-heartedly. It's so thoughtfully written, catchy and full of bounce, and so generous in feeling, I can be moved whilst simultaneously bounding round the room with my two young daughters! (Yes, Madness are still the most family friendly band ever!)
Another stand-out is Mike's "Never knew your name". It's a rather painful portrait (and I recoiled on first listen) - conjuring the idea of a middle-aged divorcee incapacitated by shyness at a disco, haunted by the girl he's spent only a little time with. But the song reflects the truth of actual experience, and this honesty and unpretentiousness is one reason why Madness are a very special act indeed, and so much loved.
There are other highlights, like the ominous "Death of a Rude Boy." (Chas Smash's rap is obvously influenced by a younger generation of London vocalists.) I like Smyth's other solo offering here, "So Alive" - what a fabulous groove! And there are countless musical subtleties that register more on repeated hearing (the "fate" theme from Beethoven 5 which wittily pops up in "Misery", for example. Or the gorgeous Beatlesesque conclusion to "Powder Blue".)
It is nice to see Woody's writing talent rewarded by three substantial contributions. Lee and Chris seem to have taken a back seat this time round, but that's one of the advantages of having so many songwriters in the group - the collective well hopefully doesn't run dry. It hasn't yet anyway.
With producers including the experienced Owen Morris (Oasis) and Stephen Street (Smiths), the band's earthy, "live" sound is very fathfully captured. Yes, it's different from the jigsaw puzzle brilliance of Clive Langer's work with them in the 80s (and on 1999's wonderful "Wonderful.") One assumes that kind of labour intensive approach is forbiddingly expensive these days, I don't know. It's a shame we have lost Bedders' wonderful melodic, punchy bass lines, but he's left (amicably), and that's life. The new bassist is no slouch.
Why not 5 stars? Well, I don't like the ordering of tracks, a problem I also had with the previous (excellent) Norton Folgate song collection. Some may beg to differ, but I think the songs might sit better in a different order. I don't like My Girl2 as an opener. And the bonus tracks section is a bit of a fudge. What I want is an album that plays right through from start to finish. (For the record, here's my attempt to improve the listening experience: Never Knew your name, How can I tell you, My Girl 2, La Luna, Misery, So Alive, Death of a Rude Boy, Black and Blue, Leon, Small World, Kitchen Floor, My Girl 2(2), Cicus Freaks, Powder Blue.) That really is my main reservation. 5 stars otherwise.
In short, this offering from the Nutty Boys is certainly no embarassment. Buy it!
on 1 November 2012
I'd give this 4.5 out of 5 if I could.
This is a mixed bunch of songs, covering sounds you might have heard on any of their albums from their early days right up to Norton Folgate.
I must say that I don't agree with all the reviews, which shows that this album manages to cater for quite different tastes. Personally, I prefer the early ska sound of Madness (instead of the later pop sound), so I'm reviewing this album based on the fact that I really wanted it to be a One Step Beyind or Absolutely.
Song my song:
MY GIRL 2 - slightly repetitive and too radio friendly for me to love it, but very catchy and (as others have said) sounds a little like Tainted Love mixed with Good Thing (which is not necessarily a bad thing). [7/10]
NEVER KNEW YOUR NAME - slower than some of the other tracks, but a beautiful song with a disco(ish) feel to the chorus. [7/10]
LA LUNA - I have noted that some reviewers love this song. I struggle to even like it much. For me, one of the weakest tracks on the album. Lots of trumpets accompany almost spoken vocals. Might have been a good choice for an instrumental. [5.5/10]
HOW CAN I TELL YOU? - another slow(ish) song (in places), but great lyrics and fun to listen to. Has a really catchy chorus. [7.5/10]
KITCHEN FLOOR - another catchy sing-a-long that you'll be singing along with after a couple of listens. Some great guitar solos here too. [7.5/10]
MISERY - a new(ish) sound from Madness. A rather jazzy sound (merged with the early-days Madness fairground sound), and a backbeat that reminds me a little of Chas and Dave! [8/10]
LEON - mid-paced track that is a little in the style of some of the later Beatles work (slightly Strawberry Fields feel to this song). Fairly catchy, but the jumps from upbeat music to almost talking vocals are a little annoying in places and impact the flow. [7/10]
CIRCUS FREAKS - a little odd sounding in places, but another catchy tune that would not have sounded out of place on the Absolutely album. [7/10]
SO ALIVE - has a beat not vastly different from Misery, but with a little more of a typical Madness sound (although, scarily, the "once in every lifetime" section sounds a little like Summer Holiday era Cliff Richard in places!) - Another fairly catchy song. [7/10]
SMALL WORLD - another almost spoken slow song. Beautiful music, but just never seems to get going. Sorry Madness, but this one bores me. The chorus does lift the song slightly (but reminds me too much of modern day Take That) [5/10]
DEATH OF A RUDE BOY - a nod to their roots. Not as fast as you might have expected back in their One Step Beyond days, but this certainy has more of a ska feel to it than anything else on the album. [8/10]
POWDER BLUE - horrible organ(ish) intro and spoken vocals get me yawning before the song has really started. It does pick up a bit once it gets going and has some good lyrics, but if you prefer the more catchy songs then you might struggle a bit with this track. [5/10]
BLACK AND BLUE - absolutely brilliant! My favourite song on the album. Very catchy chorus compliments a song with a light ska back-beat. This would have not seemed out of place on One Step Beyond or Absolutely. If it had not been for the pointless "wedding bells" section of this song I might have given it a 10. [9/10]
MY GIRL 2 REMIX - starts quite slowly, so not as instantly appealing as the normal version. However, this does not sound so much like Tainted Love and Good Thing - there is a much more typical Madness feel to this version. If you can get through the first half of the song then the second half really comes to life (with a few shouts thrown in for good measure). I much prefer this to the main version - just because this has a "ska" feel to it rather than the "pop" feel that the main version has. Really catchy. [8.5/10] - this should have been the single!
Overall a very good album, but for me three quite boring tracks (LA LUNA, SMALL WORLD and POWDER BLUE) prevent it from getting 5 stars. Not sure why "Big Time Sister" did not make the album.
on 2 February 2013
Madness were a staple of my early years at secondary school and being a "ska boy" was essential to fit in. Trends change & Madness faded from my view apart from seeing their sporadic greatest hits campaigns every few years. I dabbled unsuccessfully with Norton Folgate but gave them another (hesitant) go based purely on the Amazon reviews....and what a gobsmacking surprise. After repeated listens it just gets better and there is not one duff track. They retain their traditional quirky, observed lyrics and superb quality musicianship from the glory years but have updated and brilliantly re-interpreted it for the present day. The highlight for me is the semi-dub/late 70's inspired ska sound of Death of A Rudeboy that has me searching the loft for Crombie overcoat, stay-pressed trousers and black DM boots. However the rest of the album is awash with signature Madness gems and trademark sounds so it is futile trying to pick out all the good bits. Honestly I cannot recommend this album strongly enough and it stands tall amongst a sea of manufactured pop dross.
on 31 October 2012
Three years after 2009's brilliant Liberty of Norton Folgate Madness give us a brand new album of original songs.
I must admit that so soon (yes, for Madness a 3 year gap in albums is now like the blink of an eye!) after Norton Folgate I did not expect too much. 2012 has been a very high profile year for Madness and the cynic might think they were just knocking an album out quickly in order to cash in on the momentum they have built up this year, probably with a few songs that weren't quite good enough for Norton Folgate. Additionally, there would be no Bedders on bass, and they were using new producers. So for me, the signs were not good.
Well, all I can say is, shame on me for thinking such things. I bought the album on Monday and put it on expecting it to be average at best. I listened to it twice on Monday evening and all I can say is that I was blown away with how good it was. I had a smile on my face from start to finish. It is absolutely brilliant.
The new producers seem to have brought something out of them which has resulted in a lighter and brighter sound, and it's great to see that Woody (the drummer) has a higher proportion of songs than usual (as I have always thoroughly enjoyed his songs, albeit few and far between, on previous albums).
The highlights are almost too many to mention. Most of the songs are superb (I was just about to list my current favourites but was ending up with about 9 out of the 14!!). The only ones I've not yet really taken to are Black and Blue (one of the 3 bonus tracks) but it might grow on me, and the remixed version of My Girl 2; the version of My Girl 2 that opens the album is much better and is all that's needed. For me, the album could have ended after Powder Blue (which is an absolutely stunning track).
So all I can say is, Bravo Madness! You've gone and done it again. Before I heard it, I was fully expecting this album to be ranked alongside 1988's The Madness or 2005's The Dangermen Sessions as one of Madness's least loved albums (they are both good albums, by the way, just not as consistently great as all the rest). But that is not the case. This album is up there with their best.
Can we have another one please in 2015?