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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 31 May 2017
Some wonderful tracks
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on 11 November 2001
They're back! Having not released an album since Mad not Bad way back when, the nutty boys reform and go straight to peak form with this stunning album, perhaps the best way to look at it is by individual songs.
1- Lovestruck - This song is Madness as we remember them. Chirpy and upbeat, lovestruck holds you with it's catchy lyrics and soaring chorus that epitomes what we've come to expect from Madness. It's a perfect opener, a great vehicle for all the talents of Madness with great lyrics, beautiful melodies blended effortlessly with the upbeat nutty sound (less present on this album) and a great vocal from Suggs, and so we're away - 5/5
2- Johnny the Horse- Another poppy song, Johnny the Horse is quite quirky with a good beat and works well after lovestruck, keeping the pace going but it does deviate in mood slightly with a somewhat darker undertone to the lyrics which are complimented by the nonsense of the chorus. again, classic madness is to be had here. if you didn't catch this on single (just about got into top 100), don't miss out here - 5/5
3- The Communicator- Ah, some old skool ska! This is really a track for people who enjoyed the early madness of one step beyond and the prince. This is a good fun track which replicates their early style perfectly. Not a classic, but certainly cheered me up - 3/5
4- 4am- The real fans amongst you will already know this one!! It's lifted from Suggs' earlier solo album 'The lone ranger'. This is more of a downbeat track in comparison to the first three, but it does have a very good love ballad style about it. This is better than the original because of the full madness septet being involved this time. Madness are showing real versatility here, no bad thing either... - 4/5
5- The Wizard- Hard to place this one. It's got some good pop elements but you can quite clearly register the old nutty sound coming through here. It's a bit of a nonsense song as far as i can tell but we like a bit of that really - 4/5
6- Drip fed Fred- This is probably the strongest song on the album. It features a bouncy beat, some nice pub piano from Mike Barson and some guest vocals from one of the lads' heroes, Ian Dury. Again, this was an abused single that should really have been massive but wasn't. It displays a good tune and some darkly comic lyrics. The chorus is very anthemic in quality and we see a complete package - 5/5
7- Going to the top- A repetitve song this one. It's actually quite clever though if you listen carefully. Some nice harmonising mark out this one but other than this, it's fairly standard - 3/5
8- Elysium- In the same way as drip fed fred earlier on, this ong mixes a dark musical style with a specific lyrical style, only this time instead of black comedy, we have a sort of lonliness, jilted individual type lyric. It also has a lot of strings in giving it good orchestral quality. Well polished - 4/5
9- Saturday night, sunday morning- Some more poppy antics with love ballad style lyrics here. It's a bit more upbeat that Elysium but has the same musical quality, just without the full orchestral backing. This is a good neat track, that will really grow on you - 4/5
10- If i didn't care- The weakest track off the album, possibly because it wasn't written by the boys, we don't know really. It's quite slow and has some pleasant melodies but it just seems out of place on a madness album, still, they manage it nicely and it's not that bad - 2/5
11- No Money- A good strong finisher. This certainly has some leanings towards the nutty sounds of yesteryear. it's not as good as some of the earlier upbeat songs, possibly because it's trying to be nutty, upbeat, and yet slightly subdued at the same time. Still, another good fun song to round off a fairly superb collection - 4/5
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on 3 December 1999
Wonderful is Madness' first studio album for 14 years, marking their 20th anniversary since they released their first single, "The Prince". The first track, "Lovestruck", was their comeback single earlier this year, and as a sign they're still popular, it went straight to number 10. Other songs on the album are "Drip Fed Fred", featuring Ian Dury ("our friend, our mentor" as Suggs said), along with "The Communicator" being in the typical Madness style of the early 80's. Then there's the tracks like "Elysium" and "Going to the top" which mark a new style for Madness, almost more "grown up". A great album, with a name that suits it well.
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on 1 March 2003
If ever you need a perking up a bit, then try listening to this album. I find it impossible to listen to this finely crafted album without breaking into a suggs-like jerking dance around the room with a huge smile on my face. Although some of the lyrics do have serious messages, the music is vibrant and joyous.
Only Madness could write a lyric like "lovestruck, I've fallen for a lampost," with such conviction. There are other great moments on this album not least on one of Ian Dury's final recordings, as a guest on the outrageous "Drip Fed Fred." This is every thing that one has come to expect from Madness; great tunes, humuor and energy. However, the album does fall a little by the wayside toward the end as the lyricism begins to dry up somewhat. Nevertheless this is still well worth investigating.
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on 20 January 2000
Madness only gain in credibility with an excellent comeback album that has hints of all the previous six studio albums they have produced.
Having had my appetite whetted by the medley album track called 'Maddley', on the single Lovestruck, I was very keen to buy Wonderful.
At first sight I'm surprised to see the album omits the title track called 'You're Wonderful', subsequently available on the Johnny The Horse single. Then on listening to it you soon see why.
Wonderful is infectious. As soon as those tingly piano, saxophone solos and ska beats kick in, you can't but help tap your feet and raise a smile.
There are no weak spots in the first eight tracks. It starts with Lovestruck and Johnny The Horse. They're both enjoyable singles that indicate the return to the sounds of One Step Beyond and Absolutely. The Communicator uplifts with its ska beat similar to The Specials. It's a kind of cross between Longshot Kick de Bucket and The Liquidator. 4am is the first downbeat track and superior to other less Nutty tracks that appear later on. It is also the fourth track on Suggs' solo album 'The Lone Ranger' but a far superior production.
Throughout listening you can't help but admire the arrangements, in particular the string orchestra that supports virtually every track.
After 4am come three exceptional numbers. Two of them are written by Mike Barson, who tends to have composed or part-composed most of Wonderful's better moments. Drip Fed Fred is a comic rap by Ian Dury. Barson's piano is excellent on this one. Then Going to the Top was probably my favourite on first listen. A very heavy stomping record with Suggs singing in a deeper mode, similar to that on some of the One Step Beyond tracks.
The eighth piece, Elysium, is beautiful and has turned out to be a real grower. Strings and a softer Nutty sound summarise this excellent melody which stays true to Madness' routes. At this stage it's easy to see why 'You're Wonderful'
has been omitted from Wonderful. Eight good songs out of eight!
But then the last 3 tracks seem a little weaker. They are still growing on me and seem a little more interesting with more listens. Saturday Night Sunday Morning is a mellow, staccato like song, with more memorable verse than chorus, which doesn't grip like 4am. If I didn't Care is the only track not written by a member of Madness - another down beat song. Finally, No Money is an attempt to end the album on a semi-Nutty sound but perhaps falls short because of this.
Wonderful is true nostalgia. It's a great trip down Memory Lane. A must buy for anyone who enjoyed the early 80's and hopefully many more as well.
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on 27 October 2000
Being only 16 I didn't buy this album on a wave of nostalgia, but on the strength of the singles and the few other Madness tracks I've heard and I can confirm for others that weren't around at the time that this is a great album that doesn't dissapoint! Johnny the Horse and Saterday NIght Sunday morning being the highlights.
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on 25 March 2003
This album is classic madness. Their tunes havnt changed its still outstanding. Some tracks lack the power to get you up and dancing but their is certainly enough to skank too. Lots of fun up beat songs. Great!
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I defy anyone from 5 to 105 not to like this.. From the first tinklings of chart success that was lovestruck, to one of the most underated and yet probably best song Madness ever wrote, the fantastic thumping Johny the Horse..this disc has everything and can be played time and time again.. Saturday Night Sunday morning, play this at full blast and it blows your mind..sheer brilliance. I thought this band could never live up to their previous sounds but this disc stands head and shoulders above anything that todays mime and dance chart acts ever can do. THE WIZARD...will this be the title track to the new Harry Potter film??? rumour has it!!
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on 11 January 2000
The first time I listened to this album I was in tears. Wow! The first new Madness in over 10 years! But even after the initial euphoria wore off, this album still sounds great. "Lovestruck" and "Johnny the Horse" are great, and I love the new adaptation of "4am" from Suggs' first album. I also hope that there's more to come. Please, Madness, come back to the States. I missed you when you were here last year.
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on 5 January 2000
After a long break, this album came as a wonderful surprise. I never felt that Madness were a great albums band (Absolutely and Mad not Mad being the exceptions), but you would be hard pressed to discard any of the tracks on this album. Managing to retain enough of their trademark sounds without sounding dated this album has to be the happiest surprise of 1999. I hope it's not a one-off and we won't have to wait so long for the next one!
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