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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 November 2016
Terrific concept album by UK institutions MADNESS, being compared to THE KINKS' "Village Green Preservation Society" (lofty company indeed) and I agree! Produced by longtime MADNESS collaborators Clive Langer & Alan Winstanley, "The Liberty Of Norton Folgate" is their best album since THE RISE & FALL. I'm a fan of their early days and initially had no interest in this, but I heard a song online that was so good I had to check it out, and was pleasantly surprised. Two of the album's standout tracks are "On The Town" a duet with Rhoda Dakar ("The Boiler") and the ten-minute title track, but there's nairly a dud to be found. Make sure you get the Limited Edition CD+DVD version, which comes in a metallic slipcover. The DVD contains the film of the same title by director Julian Temple ("The Great Rock & Roll Swindle," "Absolute Beginners") with full performances of the album's tracks, and is itself worth the price of admission......

1. Overture
2. We Are London
3. Sugar And Spice
4. Forever Young
5. Dust Devil
6. Rainbows
7. That Close
9. On The Town (with Rhoda Dakar)
10. Bingo
11. Idiot Child
12. Africa
13. NW5
14. Clerkenwell Polka
15. The Liberty Of Norton Folgate

Produced by Clive Langer & Alan Winstanley

"The Liberty Of Norton Folgate" directed by Julian Temple (64 min.)

the band:
Chris Foreman – guitar
Mike Barson – keyboards, vibraphone, and backing vocals
Lee Thompson – saxophone, percussion, and backing vocals
Graham "Suggs" McPherson – lead vocals
Daniel Woodgate – drums, percussion
Mark Bedford — bass guitar
Chas Smash – trumpet, lead & backing vocals, dancing, harmonica, acoustic guitar, bass guitar
Saxophone – Steve Turner
Clarinet – Mark Brown
Trombone – Mike Kearsey
Trumpet – Joe Auckland
Tuba – Dave Powell
Cello – Nick Holland
Viola – Chris Pitsilledes
Violin – Emil Chakalov, Julian Leaper, Martin Burgess, Sue Briscoe
Percussion – Jim Parmley
Piano ["MKII"] – Simon Hale
Vocals ["On The Town"] - Rhoda Dakar

from Salvo Records:
"The Liberty Of Norton Folgate" is MADNESS’ tenth studio album. Its release, in 2009, ushered in a new golden period for a group who had first enjoyed immense success in the 1980s as the UK’s biggest selling singles band. They remain the 18th best-selling band in the UK and have become even more of a national treasure with appearances at two of the most important events of last year: The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Concert (where they played on top of Buckingham Palace and stole the show) and the closing ceremony of the London Olympics. Not bad for seven nutty boys from Camden Town. "The Liberty Of Norton Folgate" is a powerhouse of a record, not to mention an incredible return to form for a band whose last album, Wonderful, was released back in 1999. A veritable love letter to London, Liberty features its subject city heavily, capturing it in all its seedy, triumphant glory.

For background on Norton Folgate:[...]
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on 5 July 2016
As a kid I had the compilation Complete Madness and although I liked the band, I thought that was enough. All the good bits without unnecessary extras. Having been listening to this in the car for a couple of weeks now, I think I have been missing a good deal, this is a very good record (old speak meaning an album of tunes).

Combining a sumptuous musical theme, a rich London evocation and a deep but natural development of the nutty boys sound, it is in its entirety, rather gorgeous. A steam punk, vaudeville version of an old ubiquitous band, I found myself imagining a musical set around a theatre where all sorts goes on. A bit like the Good Old Days only worth watching and with side plots of treachery and intrigue.

Suggs voice casts a dour pathos over the almost orchestral and ever changing music which drags in a plethora of influences like scavengers on the mud banks when the Thames is at low ebb. It is upbeat and yet cynical, a story of failings and yet resilience. Crack on you crazy sound makers. I like it lots.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 9 December 2009
I don't think anybody expected an album of this quality and sheer excellence from Madness at this stage in their career. Indeed, given the time passed since their last album of original material (the excellent "Wonderful" in 1999), I doubt if many fans were expecting an album at all - but "The Liberty Of Norton Folgate" is arguably the best, most complete, studio album the Nutty Boys have ever made. Quite impressive for a band who could easily spend their days touring the old hits and still be in major demand. Instead, they have made an contemporary great, a melodic opus, full of romantic (and yet realistic) imagery of love, relationships, friendship, childhood and life in London.

When I heard this album for the first couple of times, I picked out a couple of what I thought were weaker tracks, but that was an error. There are tracks which are instantly lovable and tracks which are less instant - but they're all excellent, from start to finish, a charismatic, toe-tapping serving of collective genius. It would be difficult to choose my favourite tracks, but I have to confess to a special place in my heart for "Bingo", a song which captures a snapshot of life in the capital perfectly. Other personal highlights include the story of blossoming love, "Sugar and Spice", the brilliant "Idiot Child", which is about how, as a kid, you're treated as if you're perpetually stupid and, just for something a little different, "Clerkenwell Polka", a song about protecting your rights, financial slavery and the drudgery of life. The climax to the album, the title track, is a ten minute slice of lyrical and musical excellence as well, being the story of Norton Folgate, an area of London which, up until 1900 was independent of the city - but it's all brilliant. I could just as easily enthuse about "Dust Devil", "NW5", "Forever Young" and a few others I genuinely love.

I was lucky enough to see Madness live this month (December 2009) and they were magical. More importantly, the songs they played from "Norton Folgate" easily stood shoulder-to-shoulder with their earlier, more famous songs which, given the popularity and special place in my heart some of Madness' classics have, was a true indication of just how superb this album really is. The special edition of this album contains a DVD performance of the album recorded in Hackney earlier this year, when the tracks were being given their debut - and it's a truly excellent performance, almost tied together with a Suggs & Chas' narration like a musical. Well worth the extra few quid.

To surmise, "The Liberty Of Norton Folgate" is thoroughly enjoyable and unequivocally excellent. If you haven't already got this album, what are you waiting for?
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VINE VOICEon 9 October 2009
It has been a busy year for Madness with the release of their top 5 hit ablum The Liberty of Norton Folgate, and a new compilation ablum too!. Now it is time for this, a deluxe 'silver' edition of The Liberty of Norton Folgate, which included a DVD of the Julien Temple film of the same name where Madness perform songs from the album.

But it isn't an ordinary 'gig', as there are scenes between each song where Chas Smash and Suggs give you a tour of some of the more shady bits of London, transporting you back to the victorain era. It is well worth a watch, as the songs sound even better live.

The songs that feature in the film can be found withing the actual album, they are just pure brilliance. and if you already own the album, I'd certainly reccomend that you buy this as buuying a seperate music DVD would set you back a tenner. Plus there are a few differences to the original release, including the new version of Sugar and Spice, corrections to lyric misprints in the booklet and a slightly different layout, plus the nice silver cardboard sleeve for the case which is something all collecters will want.

This is perhaps Madness's best work, and must have!
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on 15 June 2009
An absolute gem of an album, which thankfully sounds nothing like a bunch of old geezers trying to recover past glories. The energy's great, the tunes are pin-sharp (Barton in particular is on top form), the production is brilliant and the whole is overlaid with some particularly acute lyrics. 'We are London' may be the greatest (and the most Madness) song that Madness have ever written.

If it reminds me of anything, it's the undervalued and now sadly unavailable 'Seven' album, where the nutty rhythms started to run into a kind of Brecht/ Weil undertow and created some deeper magic... that continues here, but with a maturity and insight which Ray Davies would envy. My only complaint is that two or three songs could have (and once would have) been left on the editing room floor, and would have made this a more concentrated experience. But better too much than too little.

All this and it moves your feet too... spectacular.
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on 3 December 2017
I was astounded by this. Literally. Madness created such music? Wow. It just shows the rewards of perseverance. Perhaps, in time, following this logic, other mediocre bands will create masterpieces - and this is what Norton Folgate is: a masterpiece!
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on 27 September 2009
I'll try and keep this short ...

I've loved this band since their start more years ago than I care to remember. If you want Baggy Trousers circa 2009 then this ain't it -(perhaps you should expand your horizons and expectations a tadge, everything moves on ...). BUT, I defy you to buy this, play it two or three times and not be able to hum/sing along with every track with an enormous smile on your face.

Someone once said 'Everything changes but everything stays the same' - never was that more applicable than this album. It's totally and completely Madness but somehow they've moved on without actually changing one single thing. I don't know if they meant do this when they wrote this album, but, (sorry one and all) maybe it's a product of age and the experiences of life.

Absolutely stunning album, I defy you after a couple of plays not to play 'Africa' over and over again (only 3 chords, G, Bm and C if anyone wants to play along). Maybe I am the wrong side of fifty and have a tendancy to be nostalgic and sentimental, but this will stand out to me for years to come as the best of the lot ... I almost worry that they have something else up their collective sleeves, because will it ever be as good as this?

If you don't but this, it's your loss .....
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on 5 October 2017
Been a fan of Madness from the first time I heard The Prince a lifetime back.....This for me is their best album to date, grown up but still a hint of schoolboy cheekiness here and there.
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on 16 June 2009
I am a big Madness fan but not a fanatic. I've previously bought a couple of singles (many years ago) and their Greatest Hits (thew white one) album and VHS tape. Though I'd give this album a try as there isn't much in the charts that appeals at the moment.

All I can brilliant. A really good mix of songs, all with their own unique style but all still Madness. Maybe not the sort of musiic to do a "nutty dance" though. I've played it through four times now. I'll probably put it onto repeat again in a few minutes.
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on 22 March 2018
I am more than Happy with the Order Thank You
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