Madness are an English new wave band that released five albums between 1979 and 1984 on Stiff Records. They emerged as part of the late-seventies 2 Tone ska revival and expanded their sound with R&B and music hall. During their original run, Madness placed sixteen singles in the UK Top 10, including the 1982 No. 1 “House of Fun” and the global hit “Our House.”

Madness charted with their first single “The Prince,” a Prince Buster tribute included on their debut album One Step Beyond…, which spawned further hits with “My Girl,” “Night Boat to Cairo,” “Bed and Breakfast Man,” and the shouted title-track. Their 1980 second album Absolutely produced further hits with “Baggy Trousers,” “Embarrassment,” and “The Return of the Los Palmas 7.”

In 1981, Madness scored a UK No. 4 hit with the Labi Siffre cover “It Must Be Love,” which presaged their docu-film Take It Or Leave It and third album 7, which generated hits with “Grey Day,” “Shut Up,” and “Cardiac Arrest.” Their 1982 standalone single “House of Fun” became their biggest home-country hit and a US MTV staple, which opened doors for the 1983 transatlantic hit “Our House,” included on their fourth album The Rise & Fall

After the stopgap singles “Wings of a Dove” and “The Sun and the Rain,” Madness charted with “Michael Caine” from their 1984 fifth album Keep Falling, their last of the period with keyboardist Mike Barson. They formed their own label (Zarjazz) for the 1985 release Mad Not Mad and scored a final hit with the 1986 single “(Waiting For) The Ghost Train.”

Members: Chris Foreman (guitar), Mike Barson (keyboards, 1976-84, 1992-present), Lee “Kix” Thompson (saxophone), Chas Smash (vocals, trumpet, bass, 1979-2014), John Hasler (drums, vocals, 1976-78), Dikron Tulane (vocals, 1976-77), Graham McPherson [aka Suggs] (vocals), Gavin Rodgers (bass, 1977-78), Garry Dovey (drums, 1977-78), Daniel Woodgate (drums, 1978-86, 1992-present), Mark Bedford (bass, 1978-86, 1992-present), Steve Nieve (keyboards, 1984-86), Seamus Beaghan (keyboards, 1986)


Madness evolved from the Camden Invaders, a party band formed in 1976 by Scottish-born keyboardist Mike Barson (Monsieur Barso) with guitarist Chris Foreman (Chrissy Boy) and saxophonist Lee Thompson (Kix). They soon welcomed drummer John Hasler, bassist/singer Cathal Smyth (Chas Smash), and vocalist Dikron Tulaine. This lineup gigged through mid-1977, influenced by the retro pop-rock and R&B strides of Kilburn and the High Roads and Deaf School. (Mike’s brother, Dan Barson, played in fellow retro-rockers Bazooka Joe, whose live favorite “Rockin’ in A♭” was adopted by Madness for their debut album.)

After a series of lineup changes, bassist Mark Bedford (Bedders) and drummer Dan Woodgate (Woody) secured the rhythm section. Tulaine moved into acting, clearing way for singer Graham McPherson (Suggs). Smyth left but soon returned to serve as their MC before rejoining as a full member. After a brief stint as Morris and the Minors, they chose the name Madness in homage to a tune by Jamaican ska legend Prince Buster.


During 1979, Madness became live favorites at London haunts like the Dublin Castle, where they honed their mix of ska, R&B, and music hall. Along with like-minded acts like The Specials, The Selecter, and The Beat, Madness became fashion trendsetters with their cropped hair, thin suits, and porkpie hats. In June, Madness entered Pathway Studios and cut their first single.

“The Prince”

On August 10, 1979, Madness released their debut single “The Prince,” a tribute to Jamaican reggae legend Prince Buster by saxophonist Lee Thompson. It’s backed with the de facto band theme “Madness,” a Buster cover.

A. “The Prince” (2:32)
B. “Madness” (2:25) originated as a 1963 Blue Beat a-side by Prince Buster; written under his real name Cecil Campbell. In 1964, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames covered the song on their Columbia EP Rhythm and Blue Beat.

Madness plugged “The Prince” on the September 6 broadcast of the BBC music program Top of the Pops, which also featured late-summer hits by Cliff Richard (“We Don’t Talk Anymore”), The Crusaders (“Street Life”), Electric Light Orchestra (“Don’t Bring Me Down””), Flying Lizards (“Money”), Roxy Music (“Angel Eyes”), and The Ruts (“Something I Said”). The Madness segement takes place under sunray lighting with a sparkling backdrop where Suggs dons a big navy blue suit and Chas (pork pie hat) does the “nutty boy” dance. This became the song’s de facto video.

“The Prince” reached No. 16 on the UK Singles Chart. The was the second 2 Tone single, released between the split Specials–Selecter single (“Gangsters” b/w “The Selecter”) and the proper debut Selecter single “On My Radio.” With “The Prince,” Madness impressed new wave Stiff Records co-founder Dave Robinson.

One Step Beyond…

Madness released their debut album, One Step Beyond…, on October 19, 1979, on Stiff (UK, Europe) and Sire (North America). It contains re-recorded versions of “Madness” and “The Prince,” plus two further originals (“Land of Hope & Glory,” “Razor Blade Alley”) written and sung by saxophonist Lee Thompson.

Bassist Mark Bedford submitted “Mummy’s Boy” while guitarist Chris Foreman co-wrote “In the Middle of the Night” with singer Graham “Suggs” McPherson, who co-wrote “Night Boat to Cairo” with Mike Barson, who wrote two eventual a-sides (“My Girl,” “Bed and Breakfast Man”) and co-wrote “Tarzan’s Nuts” with MC Cathal “Chas Smash” Smyth, who joined as group mascot immediately after the album’s completion.

Chas forwards the otherwise instrumental title track: their second Prince Buster cover. One Step Beyond… also contains Barson’s arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” and the first-recorded version of “Rockin’ in A♭” by unsigned mid-seventies legends Bazooka Joe.

1. “One Step Beyond” (2:18) originated as the b-side of “Al Capone,” a 1965 single by Prince Buster’s All Stars. Before the first musical note, Chas shouts ten lines appropriated from Buster’s 1969 Fab Records b-side “The Scorcher.” (One Step Beyond is the title of an American paranormal series that aired between 1959 and 1961 on ABC.)
2. “My Girl” (2:44)
3. “Night Boat to Cairo” (3:31)
4. “Believe Me” (2:28) is a co-write between Barson and early Madness member John Hasler.
5. “Land of Hope & Glory” (2:57)
6. “The Prince” (3:18)
7. “Tarzan’s Nuts” (2:24)

8. “In the Middle of the Night” (3:01)
9. “Bed and Breakfast Man” (2:33)
10. “Razor Blade Alley” (2:42)
11. “Swan Lake” (2:36) is Barson’s adaptation of the 1876 ballet by Russian Romantic composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
12. “Rockin’ in A♭” (2:29) is a song by one Willy “Wurlitzer” Smith that originated in the setlist of Bazooka Joe, an unsigned mid-seventies rockabilly pub band that featured Dan Barson alongside a (pre-Ants) Adam Ant and future members of The Vibrators.
13. “Mummy’s Boy” (2:23)
14. “Madness” (2:38)
15. “Chipmunks Are Go!” Brendan Smyth Smash (0:51)

Sessions took place in London in September 1979 at Eden and T.W. Studios, where Madness recorded One Step Beyond… with the newly formed production team of Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. Langer was fresh off his three-album stint in the Liverpool octet Deaf School, which released the 1976–77 cabaret–music hall albums 2nd Honeymoon and Don’t Stop the World and the 1978 new wave-oriented English Boys / Working Girls. He produced the 2 Tone version of “The Prince” under the business moniker A Clanger Production after 1978–79 singles by Liverpool organ popsters The Yachts and the Deaf School spinoff Bette Bright & The Illuminations, led by Suggs’ future wife. Langer co-produced One Step Beyond… in succession with I Want the Whole World, the debut EP by his new band Clive Langer & The Boxes, which featured Mike Barson’s keyboardist brother Ben (Dan’s twin).

One Step Beyond… features two-tone packaging by Stiff designer Julian Balme. Future BIM frontman Cameron McVey took the front-cover photo, which captures Madness posed as a “nutty train” led by Barson (followed by Suggs, Bedford, Foreman, Woodgate, and Thompson). The back cover features dancing stills of Smash by veteran rock photographer Chris Gabrin, whose images also appear on covers by Brinsley Schwarz, The Damned, and Ian Dury (New Boots and Panties!!). The inner-sleeve shows photo-booth collages of London skinheads and regular folks; credited to Nutty Punters. Balme also designed the cover for the 1979 debut album by Stackridge spinoff The Korgis.

On October 26, Madness lifted “One Step Beyond” as their second single; backed with the Barson–Hasler exclusive “Mistakes.” Stiff issued the single in standard 7″ and extended 12″ versions; the latter with a third track, “Nutty Theme,” a reference to their “nutty boys” moniker co-written by Suggs and Thompson.

B1. “Mistakes” (2:51)
B2. “Nutty Theme” (2:09)

In the “One Step Beyond” video, a skinhead awakes to the opening monologue, which Smash (ray-bans) shouts down into the lens. The band performs off-hours at the Hope & Anchor pub in Islington, where Barson swerves side-to-side at his organ, bedecked in ray-bans and a red pork pie hat with matching slacks. Scenes of the band and Smash’s titular shouts intercut with footage of outdoor skankin’ mods and skinheads. Midway, Thompson (red hat, ray-bans) plays his sax break inside a scrawled stairwell.

“One Step Beyond” reached No. 1 in France and peaked at No. 3 in Switzerland, No. 5 in Spain, and No. 7 on the UK Singles Chart. Madness mimed it against a backdrop of flashing clouded lights and cage corridors on the November 8 broadcast of ToTP, where they broke for a nutty train dance through an audience full of spectators in red fez hats (ala Thompson). The same episode featured appearances by The Specials (“A Message to You Rudy”) and The Selecter (“On My Radio”), plus autumn hits by ABBA (“Gimme Gimme Gimme”), The Boomtown Rats (“Diamond Smiles”), Commodores (“Still”), Gary Numan (“Complex”), The Pretenders (“Brass In Pocket”), and Queen (“Crazy Little Thing Called Love”).

On December 21, “My Girl” became the third Madness single; backed with Stepping Into Line,” a Hasler–Foreman co-write with Suggs’ lyrics. The “My Girl” 12″ contains the group-written third track “In the Rain.”

B1. “Stepping Into Line” (2:17)
B2. “In the Rain” (2:46)

In the “My Girl” video, a sombrero-hatted Foreman (guitar case in hand) gets turned away from a restaurant but joins Madness on a cramped bar stage, where Thompson (gray suit, hat, stubble) plays a miniature saxophone (alternately used as a pretend telephone).

“My Girl” reached No. 3 on the UK and Irish singles charts. On January 3, Madness mimed the song in white tuxedos on the inaugural eighties broadcast of TotP, where they performed against a pink bubble-lettered backdrop of the letters 1980. TotP aired “My Girl” four times amid January hits by The Beat (“Tears of a Clown”), Dexys Midnight Runners (“Dance Stance”), Joe Jackson (“It’s Different for Girls”), John Foxx (“Underpass”), New Musik (“Living By Numbers”), Sad Cafe (“Strange Little Girl”), The Skids (“Working for the Yankee Dollar”), and UFO (“Young Blood”).

One Step Beyond… reached No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart and went Top 20 in Austria (No. 11), Sweden (No. 12), and Germany (No. 14). The album also peaked within the Top 30 in Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and New Zealand.

In North America, Sire lifted “Madness” and “Bed and Breakfast Man” as singles. One Step Beyond… spent nine weeks on the US Billboard 200. Madness filmed a video for “Bed and Breakfast Man” inside a wood-walled space with checkered flooring, where items of note appear on Suggs (purple suit), Bedford (red–white polka dot handkerchief), Barson (black suit, shades), and Thompson (red hat). The “Madness” video shows the band and their posse of mods and skinheads on a procession through terminals, tube trains, and night spots.


Work Rest and Play

“Night Boat to Cairo” reappeared as the lead track on Work Rest and Play, an EP released in March 1980 with three new songs: “Deceives the Eye” (Bedford–Foreman), “The Young and the Old” (Barson–Suggs), and “Don’t Quote Me on That,” which writer Chas Smash co-credits to ex-Wailers guitarist Peter Tosh.

1. “Night Boat to Cairo” (3:30)
2. “Deceives the Eye” (1:58)

3. “The Young and the Old” (2:03)
4. “Don’t Quote Me on That” (4:31)

The “Night Boat to Cairo” video opens with Thompson and Foreman buried neck-deep in sand, clad in shades and red fez caps with ping pong balls in their mouths. Seconds later, they’re with the band on a sandy dune (studio made), where Madness hops around in safari gear against a green-screen backdrop of the three pyramids of Giza.

Work Rest and Play reached No. 6 on the UK Singles Chart. The first record also appeared as a standard 7″ single. Madness mimed “Night Boat to Cairo” under a winged canopy on a green-lit, oval studio stage for the April 3 broadcast of TotP, where Thompson and Woodgate donned Arabian keffiyehs. The same episode featured The Jam (“Going Underground”), The Selecter (“Missing Words”), UB40 (“Food for Thought”), and Dexys Midnight Runners with “Geno,” their first UK No. 1 hit.

Madness also plugged “Night Boat” sans instruments on the Dutch music program TopPop, where the members formed a nutty merry go-round around Suggs (penciled mustache) amid horizontal bars and flashing pink–teal lights.


Madness released their second album, Absolutely, on September 26, 1980, on Stiff. It features fourteen originals, including the Top 10 UK hits “Baggy Trousers,” “Embarrassment,” and “The Return of the Los Palmas 7.”

Singer Suggs wrote the lyrics to music by guitarist Chris Foreman (“Baggy Trousers,” “E.R.N.I.E.”), bassist Mark Bedford (“Not Home Today,” “Disappear”), and keyboardist Mike Barson (“Shadow of Fear,” “You Said”). Saxophonist Lee Thompson co-wrote two songs each with Barson (“Embarrassment,” “Take It or Leave It”) and Foreman (“Close Escape,” “Overdone”). He ‘co-wrote’ “On the Beat Pete” with the entire band.

Side One closes with “Solid Gone,” written and sung by trumpeter–MC Chas Smash. Side Two contains the group-written “In the Rain” and the self-referential “The Return of the Los Palmas 7,” a co-write between Barson, Bedford, and drummer Daniel Woodgate. Madness enhance their R&B–ska arrangements with select use of sitar and slide (Foreman) and marimba and vibraphone (Barson).

1. “Baggy Trousers” (2:45)
2. “Embarrassment” (3:13)
3. “E.R.N.I.E.” (2:08)
4. “Close Escape” (3:29)
5. “Not Home Today” (2:30)
6. “On the Beat Pete” (3:05)
7. “Solid Gone” (2:22)

8. “Take It or Leave It” (3:26)
9. “Shadow of Fear” (1:58)
10. “Disappear” (2:58)
11. “Overdone” (3:45)
12. “In the Rain” (2:42)
13. “You Said” (2:35)
14. “The Return of the Los Palmas 7” (2:01)

Sessions took place in mid-1980 at Eden Studios, where the Langer–Winstanley team produced Absolutely in sequence with Splash, the singular album by Clive Langer & The Boxes, whose music contains a similar mix of ska, R&B, and music hall. Madness titled Absolutely after an oft-used expression by their concert soundman Tony Duffield.

On the Absolutely front cover, Madness pose before Camden’s Chalk Farm tube station with Thompson at the fore in a pair of pleated, pinstripe baggy trousers. The back cover features liner notes by Sounds journalist Robbi Millar. The inner-sleeve contains an annotated history of Madness with multiple archival pics of each member, backed with an illustration of a subway roundel for “Cairo East’ by ex-Kilburn & The High Roads bassist Humphrey Ocean, whose earlier visuals appear on 1975–76 albums by 10cc and Wings.

Three weeks ahead of Absolutely, Madness released “Baggy Trousers” as their fifth single, backed with “The Business,” a non-album Barson number.

B. “The Business” (3:14)

The “Baggy Trousers” video opens on a field where Thompson (clad in baggy trousers) leaps forth in an attempt to take flight with strap-on wings. Madness perform in a school auditorium and outside on school grounds while nearby kids play ball and watch as Thompson (airbound without wings thanks to his baggy trousers) floats and plays sax.

“Baggy Trousers” went Top 5 in Ireland and the Netherlands (No. 4) and peaked at No. 3 in New Zealand and the UK. Madness mimed it on a low-level stage lined with jumping school kids and seated folks for the September 18 broadcast of TotP, where Suggs wore a pork pie hat, ray-bans, and a gold scarf tucked into a black trench coat. TotP aired “Baggy Trousers” nine times amid autumn hits by XTC (“Generals and Majors”), David Bowie (“Ashes to Ashes”), Cliff Richard (“Dreamin”’), Split Enz (“I Got You”), The Police (“Don’t Stand So Close to Me”), Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (“Enola Gay”), Adam & The Ants (“Dog Eat Dog”), Kate Bush (“Army Dreamers”), The Specials (“International Jet Set”), and fellow nutty skasters Bad Manners (“Special Brew”).

On November 14, “Embarrassment” became the second single, backed with the Barson exclusive “Crying Shame.”

B. “Crying Shame” (2:36)

The “Embarrassment” video opens in London at a multi-leg intersection, where Barson portrays a flasher who opens his trench coat at the camera to reveal boxers emblazoned with the word “embarrassment.” Madness perform off-hours in a dark-lit bar, where Suggs sings alone in green tartan (Hunter Ross) while the others synchronize on saxophones, clad in white slacks and red tartan (Royal Stewart). On the sax break, Thompson (black tux) slow-walks down a stairwell amid billowing smoke.

“Embarrassment” reached No. 2 in the Netherlands and peaked at No. 4 in Ireland and the UK. Madness mimed the song in tartan blazers under geometric ceiling fixtures on the November 27 broadcast of TotP, which aired “Embarrassment” amid autumn–winter hits by Blondie (“The Tide Is High”), The Boomtown Rats (“Banana Republic”), Robert Palmer (“Looking for Clues”), Spandau Ballet (“To Cut a Long Story Short”). Madness also mimed “Embarrassment” beaming white lights and blue neon on TopPop.

On January 16, 1981, Madness lifted “The Return of the Los Palmas 7” as the third Absolutely single; backed with the Foreman exclusive “That’s the Way to Do It.” The three-track 12″ version contains a live rendition of the One Step Beyond… deep cut “Swan Lake.”

B. “That’s the Way to Do It” (2:51)

The “Los Palmas 7” video opens as Madness members paint the full title in black strokes on a large green roll-out sheet. The band dines at a greasy spoon in blue-collar wear amid working stiffs and school girls. They reappear in tuxedos at a mansion banquet table, which Thompson jumps onto with his saxophone. The mansion segment intercuts with assorted stock footage (wartime reels, sporting events, celebrity and royalty clips) and a valley scene of Madness clad in Wild West gear.

“The Return of the Los Palmas 7” reached No. 7 on the UK Singles Chart. Madness mimed it amid palm trees under red–yellow lights on the January 29, 1981, broadcast of TotP, which thrice aired “Los Palmas 7” amid winter hits by The Stranglers (“Thrown Away”), Ultravox (“Vienna”), Visage (“Fade to Grey”), Toyah (“It’s a Mystery”), Freeez (“Southern Freeez”), and The Teardrop Explodes (“Reward”).

Absolutely reached No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart, where it peaked on the week of October 11, 1980, under Zenyatta Mondatta by The Police. The album also reached No. 2 in the Netherlands and No. 15 in Finland.


Madness opened 1981 with a return-performance of “Baggy Trousers” on the January 1 broadcast of TotP.

Madness feature in the 1981 concert film Dance Craze, a documentary on the English 2 Tone ska revival with live numbers by The Specials, The Selecter, The Beat, The Bodysnatchers, and Bad Manners. American filmmaker Joe Massot (Wonderwall, The Song Remains the Same) directed the 26-song film, which features six Madness numbers: “The Prince,” “Swan Lake,” “Madness,” “Razor Blade Alley,” “Night Boat to Cairo,” and “One Step Beyond.” The last three also appear on the corresponding Dance Craze soundtrack album.

“Grey Day”

On April 17, 1981, Madness released their eighth single: “Grey Day,” a Mike Barson number backed with Chris Foreman’s “Memories.”

A. “Grey Day” (3:37)
B. “Memories” (2:24)

In the “Grey Day” video, five-sevenths of Madness skip-hop toward Williams & Glyn’s Bank. Next, three members awake in a red room near a porcelain harlequin. The full band (grey suited) form a single-file skank train down a suburban sidewalk. Scenes of a department-store-window performance intercut with Suggs turning in his sleep. Shoppers swarm outside and watch the band amid random scenes of Chas (Joker lips) and Suggs, who huddles under an umbrella as Foreman produces fake downpour from a watering pot.

“Grey Day” reached No. 4 in Ireland and the UK and peaked at No. 18 in the Netherlands. It reappeared six months later on the third Madness album. Madness mimed “Grey Day” in a teal play room on the children’s ITV show Razzamatazz.


Madness released their third album, 7, on October 2, 1981, on Stiff. It features thirteen originals, including the spring a-side “Grey Day” and the followup singles “Shut Up” and “Cardiac Arrest.” The title refers to their septet lineup.

Suggs wrote two songs each with guitarist Chris Foreman (“Shut Up,” “Day on the Town”) and keyboardist Mike Barson (“Sign of the Times,” “Missing You”).

Barson lone-wrote “Mrs. Hutchinson,” “Grey Day,” and “The Opium Eaters” and co-wrote four songs (“Tomorrow’s Dream,” “Pac-a-Mac,” “Promises Promises,” “When Dawn Arrives”) with saxophonist Lee Thompson, who co-wrote “Benny Bullfrog” with Foreman, who co-wrote “Cardiac Arrest” with MC Chas Smash.

1. “Cardiac Arrest” (2:52)
2. “Shut Up” (4:07)
3. “Sign of the Times” (2:43)
4. “Missing You” (2:32)
5. “Mrs. Hutchinson” (2:17)
6. “Tomorrow’s Dream” (3:54)

7. “Grey Day” (3:40)
8. “Pac-a-Mac” (2:37)
9. “Promises Promises” (2:52)
10. “Benny Bullfrog” (1:51) Lee
11. “When Dawn Arrives” (2:43)
12. “The Opium Eaters” (3:03)
13. “Day on the Town” (3:24) Re-titled “A Place in the City” on French copies.

Apart from the pre-recorded “Grey Day,” sessions occurred in July–August 1981 at Compass Point Studios, a remote facility in Nassau, Bahamas, recently used by The B-52’s and Japanese new wavers The Plastics. Madness retouched select parts when they returned to London. Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley produced and engineered 7 in sequence with albums by Bette Bright (Rhythm Breaks the Ice) and rising Liverpool stars The Teardrop Explodes (Wilder).

On the 7 cover, Madness form a pyramid: (left-to-right) Thompson, Bedford, Suggs, Barson (center), Smash, Foreman, Woodgate. Veteran rock photographer Mike Putland captured the high-handed pose and the individual pics on the back cover: a collage with multiple pics of each member posed against grey and burgundy backgrounds in Gatsby–mod attire. The inner-sleeve presents a primary-colored grid of image–graphic squares, backed with a promo layout for the Madness docu-film Take It Or Leave It, released concurrently with 7. Putland’s earlier visual credits include seventies albums by Curved Air (Air Cut), Doctors of Madness (Figments of Emancipation), Elton John (Goodbye Yellow Brick Road), Kursaal Flyers, Rory Gallagher (Calling Card), and Soft Machine (Six).

On September 11, Madness released “Shut Up” as the second advance single, backed with Foreman’s exclusive “A Town With No Name.” The 12″ version contains a second exclusive, “Never Ask Twice,” a Suggs–Barson number.

B1. “A Town With No Name” (2:52)
B2. “Never Ask Twice” (3:03)

The “Shut Up” video opens with Suggs as a plaid-suited car salesman. A grand piano drops onto a field, where Barson plays in constable attire. Scenes unfold with Madness as cops, striped-shirt inmates, and a six-man police squad in pursuit of a cat burglar (Suggs). Later, the mod-suited band enter a room, where they walk single file up the wall and across the ceiling.

“Shut Up” reached No. 7 on the UK Singles Chart. Madness mimed the song in tartan kilts amid Greek statues and a smashed, smoke-emitting TV set (at the foot of Barson’s lavender grand piano) on the October 10 broadcast of TopPop. At the “Shut Up” climax, the statues come to life and dance with Madness.

7 peaked at No. 5 on the Dutch and UK album charts.

Take It Or Leave It

Madness star in the docu-drama Take It Or Leave It, a re-enactment of their formation and career from 1976 to the present day. Early scenes (monochrome) reveal member exploits, such as an incident where Mike Barson and Lee Thompson shoplift from a Camden record store staffed by Cathal Smyth.

The first color scene is set in June 1977 outside a tenement block, where The Invaders mark their first performance with an out-of-tune rendition of “Hound Dog.” Subsequent scenes show their ups and downs on the path to stardom. Madness and Stiff Records co-financed the 82-minute film, which hit screens in October 1981 via Nutty Stiff Productions.

“It Must Be Love”

On November 25, 1981, Madness released the Labi Siffre cover “It Must Be Love,” a sprightly ballad backed with Foreman’s “Shadow on the House,” their first of three “house”-themed single sides.

A. “It Must Be Love” (3:19) originated as a 1971 Pye International a-side by Nigerian–English singer–songwriter Labi Siffre, whose version reached No. 14 on the UK Singles Chart and appears on his 1972 third album Crying Laughing Loving Lying.

B. “Shadow on the House” (3:20)

The video to “It Must Be Love” opens with Foreman perched at a waterside, where he walks away in scuba fins. Madness perform in a white studio clad in black shades, berets, and turtlenecks. Thompson and Barson play submerged in a whale-occupied swimming pool.

“It Must Be Love” reached No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart, No. 5 in Ireland, and No. 6 in Australia. It later became their second-highest-charting US hit. Madness mimed “It Must Be Love” in berets and matching all-black ensembles against a circular backdrop of flashing colored lights on the Spanish music program Aplauso.


On February 12, 1982, “Cardiac Arrest” became the third 7 single, backed with “In the City.” The 12″ version contains an extended “Cardiac Arrest” (2:56).

B. “In the City” (2:56)

In the “Cardiac Arrest” video, Madness (clad in black business suits and fedoras) huddle onto a London Transport bus and perform impromptu on their rush-hour commute. As the bus nears its destination, Chas goes into cardiac arrest.

“Cardiac Arrest” reached No. 14 on the UK Singles Chart. Madness plugged it on low-level stage flanked with petticoated young women on the March 4 broadcast of TotP, where Suggs and Smash writhed in identical getups (round shades, pork-pie hats, black-tie suits). TotP twice aired “Cardiac Arrest” amid spring hits by ABC (“Poison Arrow”), XTC (“Senses Working Overtime”), Kraftwerk (“The Model”), Soft Cell (“Say Hello, Wave Goodbye”), The Stranglers (“Golden Brown”), The Jam (“Town Called Malice”), Imagination (“Just an Illusion”), and The Cars (“Shake It Up”).

Madness also mimed “Cardiac Arrest” on TopPop, where they writhed on lamé stage sheets amid replicated Hellenistic sculptures.

“House of Fun”

On May 14, 1982, Madness released “House of Fun,” a quirky Barson–Thompson co-write backed with Foreman’s “Don’t Look Back.”

A. “House of Fun” (2:58)
B. “Don’t Look Back” (3:31)

The “House of Fun” video opens with Woodgate, Thompson, and Suggs (trumpet) on a school playground and runs through scenes where members charm a checkout girl, work a pharmacy, play Mad Hatter, ride a rollercoaster, and visit a barber shop. The sleeve photo comes from a seen where Barson, Suggs, and Foreman don lab coats, pop-out goggles, and surgeon headgear behind the counter of a costume store.

“House of Fun” reached No. 1 in Ireland and No. 5 in Australia. On the week of May 25, it overtook “A Little Peace” by German schlager singer Nicole as the No. 1 song on the UK Singles Chart, where it crested for two weeks and bowed on June 8 to “Goody Two Shoes,” the first post-Ants solo single by Adam Ant. Madness mimed “House of Fun” amid flashing carnival lights and a spinning merry go-round on the Australian music show Countdown. With the band overseas, TotP aired the song’s video on three broadcasts, including the May 27 episode guest-hosted by Debbie Harry and BBC DJ John Peel.

In the US, “House of Fun” became the second Madness clip (after the 1979 “One Step Beyond” video) play-listed by the fledgling cable music channel MTV. This exposure primed the band for their subsequent stateside breakthrough.

Madness mime “House of Fun” on Series 1, Episode 3 (titled “Boring”) of the BBC Two sitcom The Young Ones, aired November 23, 1982. The gang (Mike, Rick, Neil, and Vyvyan) walk to a pub where Madness perform and arrive once the song ends. They walk to the foot of the stage and face the band. The following exchange ensues:

Rick: “Do any of you lot know “Summer Holiday” by Cliff Richard?”
Suggs: “You varmint (?), I’ll smash your face in.”

“House of Fun” is the one new track on Complete Madness, a sixteen-song compilation that contains the three recent 7 a-sides and four Absolutely tracks (“Embarrassment,” “Baggy Trousers,” “Take It or Leave It,” “The Return of the Los Palmas 7”) and six One Step Beyond… songs: “My Girl,” “The Prince,” “Bed and Breakfast Man,” “Night Boat to Cairo,” “Madness,” and “One Step Beyond.” Complete Madness also gathers “It Must Be Love” and the “Cardiac Arrest” b-side “In the City.” To facilitate the track count, original LP copies feature early fade-outs on most tracks.

Complete Madness reached No. 1 in the UK, No. 5 in Australia, No. 7 in the Netherlands, and No. 11 in New Zealand.

“Driving in My Car”

On July 24, 1982, Madness released their thirteenth single and third standalone: “Driving in My Car,” a Mike Barson original backed with the group-written “Animal Farm.” The 12″ single contains a second group-written exclusive, “”Riding on My Bike.”

A. “Driving in My Car” (3:17)
B1. “Animal Farm (Tomorrow’s Dream Warp Mix)” (4:02)
B2. “Riding on My Bike” (4:35)

In the “Driving in My Car” video, Madness portray car mechanics and a supper club band in white jackets and straw boater hats. They fix the “Maddie Mobile,” a white 1959 model Morris Minor (license plate MAD 7) and huddle in for a ride. On their way, they pass Fun Boy Three, who seek a ride to Coventry.

“Driving in My Car” reached No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart. Madness mimed the song under flashing light discs on the August 5 broadcast of TotP, where Suggs and Smash (clad in matching carnival hats, round shades, and bow ties) perched inside their confetti-flanked Maddie Mobile convertible.

The Rise & Fall

Madness released their fourth album, The Rise & Fall, on November 5, 1982, on Stiff. It features thirteen originals, including two singles: the somber “Tomorrow’s (Just Another Day)” and the perky music hall number “Our House,” the band’s biggest global hit.

Suggs wrote three songs with guitarist Chris Foreman (“Rise and Fall,” “Primrose Hill,” “That Face”) and two with keyboardist Mike Barson (“Tiptoes,” “Mr. Speaker (Gets the Word)”).

Barson lone-wrote “New Delhi” and co-wrote songs with saxophonist Lee Thompson (“Are You Coming (With Me)”) and MC Chas Smash (“Tomorrow’s (Just Another Day)”).

Thompson wrote “Blue Skinned Beast” and co-wrote “Calling Cards” with Foreman, who lone-wrote “Madness (Is All in the Mind)” and co-wrote “Our House” with Smash. Drummer Daniel Woodgate contributed “Sunday Morning,” the closing track on Side One.

1. “Rise and Fall” (3:16)
2. “Tomorrow’s (Just Another Day)” (3:10)
3. “Blue Skinned Beast” (3:22)
4. “Primrose Hill” (3:36)
5. “Mr. Speaker (Gets the Word)” (2:59)
6. “Sunday Morning” (4:01)

7. “Our House” (3:23)
8. “Tiptoes” (3:29)
9. “New Delhi” (3:40)
10. “That Face” (3:39)
11. “Calling Cards” (2:19)
12. “Are You Coming (With Me)” (3:17)
13. “Madness (Is All in the Mind)” (2:53)

Sessions took place in the summer of 1982 at London’s AIR Studios, where Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley produced The Rise & Fall in succession with titles by Blue Rondo a la Turk, The Nitecaps, and the second Dexys Midnight Runners album Too-Rye-Ay, which contains their global chart-topper “Come On Eileen.” AIR staffer David Wooley (Michael Schenker Group, Mick Karn) co-engineered Rise & Fall with Jeremy Allom, a soundman on More Specials and the second Magazine album Secondhand Daylight, plus the recent debut single by Liverpool’s The Pale Fountains.

The Rise & Fall features Brazilian guest percussionist Geraldo D’Arbilly (a Blue Rondo–Fun Boy Three auxiliary) and string–brass arrangements by electronic musicians and veteran Mike Oldfield associate David Bedford (no relation to Mark). The album sports a gatefold sleeve with photography by Laurie Lewis, who captures Madness field-posed with sundry items (monochrome outer-gate) and grouped “Our House” style on a theatre stage (color inner-gate). Lewis visuals also appear on seventies albums by Hawkwind, Hatfield & The North, Michael Mantler, National Health, and Vinegar Joe.

Madness lifted “Our House” as the first single backed with Barson’s “Walking with Mr. Wheeze.”

B. “Walking with Mr. Wheeze” (3:31)

The “Our House” video takes place on a brick tenement block where Madness perform inside a narrow wall-papered room clad in 1920s flat caps and suspenders (apart from Suggs, who dons a contemporary blazer combo with fingerless gloves). Hi-jinks ensue from Thompson (who dresses granny-style and burns a shirt with an iron) and Foreman (who “plays” guitar with a tennis racket and dons Beatles gear with a Rickenbacker). Collectively, they huddle before a vintage television (in round shades), enact the baroque string section, crowd a banquet table (with newspapers), and stand nose-pressed against a glass gymnasium wall.

“Our House” reached No. 1 in Sweden and No. 5 in Ireland. It also went Top 5 in Ireland (No. 3) and Norway (No. 4) and peaked at No. 8 in Germany. Madness re-enacted the video for the December 2 broadcast of TotP, where they mime in a studio recreation of the tenement room; this time with longer hair (Foreman) and a winter beard (Smash). They also mimed “Our House” in a black studio with a flashing wall of dot lights for the Belgian music program Generation 80.

“Our House” became the breakthrough Madness single in North America, where it reached No. 1 in Canada and No. 7 on the US Billboard Hot 100 (No. 5 Cashbox).

On February 11, 1983, Madness paired “Tomorrow’s (Just Another Day)” and “Madness (Is All in the Mind)” as the second Rise & Fall single. The video opens with Thompson and Smash as doomsday cultists who walk London strapped with sandwich board signs that read “The world will end Wednesday–Thursday.” (When they walk off together, the combined words of their back-signs spell the song’s title). In subsequent scenes, Madness portray card-playing inmates and pessimistic students. They spring from a car in black trench coats and fedoras and reappear in a black room in white suits with umbrellas. As Suggs makes a delivery, the others flanks him in flower hats and gnome costumes.

It reached No. 8 on the UK Singles Chart. TotP aired the video on its February 17 broadcast, which also aired hits by Tears for Fears (“Change”), Icehouse (“Hey Little Girl”), Musical Youth (“Never Gonna Give You Up”), Fun Boy Three (“Tunnel of Love”), and Kajagoogoo (“Too Shy”).

The Rise & Fall reached No. 1 on the Swedish Albums Chart and No. 10 on the UK Albums Chart. The album peaked at No. 15 in Germany and No. 29 in New Zealand.


To capitalize on the breakthrough popularity of “Our House” in North American, Geffen Records issued the compilation Madness in Canada and the US. It features six of their seven UK a-sides since “Grey Day” (barring “Driving in My Car”).

Geffen further promoted Madness with “It Must Be Love,” which reached No. 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 nearly two years after its UK chart peak.

“Wings of a Dove”

On August 20, 1983, Madness released Suggs–Smash co-write “Wings of a Dove” as their fourth UK standalone single, backed with the group-written “Behind the 8 Ball.” The 12″ features an extended a-side (Blue Train Mix, 6:10) and a third track: the Thompson–Woodgate number “One’s Second Thoughtlessness.”

A. “Wings of a Dove” (3:00)
B1. “Behind the 8 Ball” (3:01)
B2. “One’s Second Thoughtlessness” (3:26)

In the “Wings of a Dove” video, Madness ride a chartered aircraft piloted by Chas (goatee) and Woodgate. The other five cavort among Caribbean passengers with lap steelpans. At high altitude, they form a hand-to-hand chain across the plane’s wing. Amid turbulence, they eject their Iveco Daily van by parachute. Director Dave Robinson purchased the parachuted footage from a French studio that filmed it for a TV commercial.

“Wings of a Dove” reached No. 1 in Ireland and No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart. TotP aired the video on its August 18 broadcast amid hits by Elton John (“I’m Still Dancing”), Kim Wilde (“Love Blonde”), The Kinks (“Come Dancing”), Wham (Club Tropicana”).

“The Sun and the Rain”

On October 29, 1983, Madness released their fifth standalone UK single: Barson’s “The Sun and the Rain” backed with the group-written “Fireball XL 5,” titled after the sixties British animated space age series.

A. “The Sun and the Rain” (3:28)
B. “Fireball XL 5” (1:44)

“The Sun and the Rain” video opens with Barson at the piano, where his arms elongate as Smash and Thompson pop from the case. Suggs appears under heavy downpour on a nighttime London street, where he witnesses a live-model costume display in which Chas ignites Lee. Madness converge on the street while Thompson doubles as a red earworm. Suggs picks his ear in irritation while Madness double as a band of earworms inside his brain.

The 12″ contains an extended a-side (4:35) and a live version of the early Madness favorite “My Girl.”

“The Sun and the Rain” reached No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart. Madness mimed the song on a misty blue stage laden with glitter, steam, spinning lights, and cagey fixtures for the November 3 broadcast of TotP, which also featured hits by Billy Joel (“Uptown Girl”), The Fixx (“One Thing Leads to Another”), Men Without Hats (“The Safety Dance”), and Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson (“Say Say Say”).


Madness reappeared on The Young Ones, where they mimed their now-signature “Our House” on the Series 2 fifth episode (“Sick”), aired June 12, 1984. They perform outside the gang’s apartment tenement with high-strapped toy guitars (Suggs ‘plays’ a yellow bass). The song continues in the background amid indoor scenes of Vyvyan hammer-beating Rick. Outside, a riot ensues just as “Our House” wraps. Madness join in the brawl, which draws multiple cars of police who can’t control the scene.

Keep Moving 

Madness released their fifth album, Keep Moving, on February 20, 1984, on Stiff (UK, Europe) and Geffen (North America). It features twelve originals, including the singles “Michael Caine” and “One Better Day.”

Keep Moving marks the creative proliferation of MC and trumpeter Chas Smash, who co-wrote songs with drummer Dan Woodgate (“Michael Caine”), bassist Mike Barson (“Victoria Gardens”), and frontman Suggs (“Prospects,” “Waltz into Mischief”).

Smash and Suggs co-wrote the title track with guitarist Chris Foreman, who also collaborated with Suggs on “Turning Blue” and co-wrote “Time for Tea” with saxophonist Lee Thompson, who lone-wrote the closing track “Give Me a Reason” and co-wrote three songs (“Samantha,” “Brand New Beat,” “March of the Gherkins”) with Barson. Bassist Mark Bedford partnered with Suggs on the second single “One Better Day.” Smash sings lead on “Michael Caine” and “Victoria Gardens.”

Musical guests on Keep Moving include Rise & Fall string arranger David Bedford and two recent backers of fellow Langer–Winstanley client Elvis Costello: the TKO Horns (“Keep Moving”) and the vocal trio Afrodiziak (“Michael Caine”). General Public — aka former English Beat frontmen Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger — sing backing on “Victoria Gardens” and “Waltz Into Mischief.” Select tracks feature Portuguese session percussionist Luís Jardim, who also plays on the first two ABC albums and recent titles by Costello, David Gilmour, and Icelandic jazz-funksters Mezzoforte.

1. “Keep Moving” (3:33)
2. “Michael Caine” (3:37) Afrodiziak (Caron Wheeler, Claudia Fontaine, and Naomi Thompson) also feature on Costello’s 1983 hit “Everyday I Write the Book.”
3. “Turning Blue” (3:06)
4. “One Better Day” (4:06)
5. “March of the Gherkins” (3:30)
6. “Waltz into Mischief” (3:36)

7. “Brand New Beat” (3:17)
8. “Victoria Gardens” (4:32)
9. “Samantha” (3:14)
10. “Time for Tea” (3:08)
11. “Prospects” (4:15)
12. “Give Me a Reason” (3:26)

Sessions took place in late 1983 at AIR Studios, where Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley produced Keep Moving between Costello’s eighth and ninth studio albums: Punch the Clock and Goodbye Cruel World.

Keep Moving credits longtime Stranglers soundman Steve Churchyard (an engineer on Deaf School’s 2nd Honeymoon) and three additional engineers, including Punch the Clock soundman Gavin Greenway, one of multiple hands on XTC’s 1983 release Mummer. Engineer Matt Butler also worked on 1984 post-Japan releases by David Sylvian and Dalis Car.

Madness titled Keep Moving after a repeated phrase in The Bed Sitting Room, a 1969 British dark comedy starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. The cover image, by English photographer Tony Duffy, captures Madness in a running race. Stiff boss Dave Robinson encouraged the Chariots of Fire theme as a visual tie-in to the upcoming 1984 Summer Olympics.

On January 30, “Michael Caine” appeared as the lead single, backed by Barson’s exclusive “If You Think There’s Something.”

B. “If You Think There’s Something” (3:08)

As the “Michael Caine” video unfolds, Barson abandons his piano, which continues to play itself unhanded. Four members (Smash, Bedford, Woodgate, Suggs) portray detectives who study footage of a suspect (Foreman) that they ultimately pursue, arrest, and interrogate. In the final scene, they form a suited choir minus Thompson, who’s absent apart from the prelude, where he ejects from his car (disheveled) and spouts nonsense into the camera. The video derives themes from Caine’s 1965 spy film The Ipcress File.

On June 2, Madness lifted “One Better Day” as the second UK Keep Moving single, backed with the non-album “Guns,” their first song credited exclusively to Suggs.

B. “Guns” (3:14)

Keep Moving reached No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart. Geffen vinyl copies replace “Waltz Into Mischief” and “Time for Tea” with the 1983 singles “Wings of a Dove” and “The Sun and the Rain.”

Barson Quits

Madness performed “Keep Moving” and “Our House” on the April 14, 1984, broadcast of the NBC late-night sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live, guest-hosted by 1972 Democratic Presidential nominee George McGovern. Keyboardist James Mackie (ex-Selecter) deputized Mike Barson, who played his last show with the band on December 21, 1983, at the Lyceum. After filming the two Keep Moving videos, Barson left Madness in June 1984. Madness toured the US with journeyman keyboardist Paul Carrack (Warm Dust, Ace, Squeeze).


Madness left Stiff Records and established Zarjazz, a sub-label of Virgin Records. Its first released was the September 1984 single “Listen to Your Father,” the solo debut of ex-Undertones singer Feargal Sharkey. Madness (Suggs excepted) provide musical backing on “Listen to Your Father,” which reached No. 22 in the singer’s native Ireland and No. 23 on the UK Singles Chart.

In December, Madness summoned General Public and members of UB40, The Specials, and Jamaican reggae legends The Pioneers for a cover of the latter’s “Starvation,” released as a double-a-side with the African super-group recording “Tam Tam Pour L’Ethiopie” for Ethiopian famine relief. “Starvation” reached No. 33 on the UK Singles Chart.


Mad Not Mad

Madness released their sixth album, Mad Not Mad, on September 30, 1985, on Zarjazz (UK) and Geffen. It features nine originals, including the singles “Yesterday’s Men” and “Uncle Sam.”

Side Two opens with the Scritti Politti cover “Sweetest Girl,” released as the third Not Mad single. Suggs co-wrote two songs (“White Heat,” “Mad Not Mad”) with Smash and three (“Yesterday’s Men,” “Burning the Boats,” “Coldest Day”) with guitarist Chris Foreman, who co-wrote “Uncle Sam” with saxophonist Lee Thompson, who co-wrote “I’ll Compete” with drummer Dan Woodgate. Smash lone-wrote “Time” and “Tears You Can’t Hide.”

Mad Not Mad is the third consecutive Madness album with string arrangements by David Bedford. Keep Moving auxiliaries Luís Jardim (percussion) and Afrodiziak (backing vocals) return for Not Mad, which on-boards Attractions keyboardist Steve Nieve. Additional guests include Gonzalez–Cayenne pianist Roy Davies and Leisure Process saxophonist Gary Barnacle, a longtime sessionsist (The Clash, Bush Tetras, Positive Noise) with recent credits behind The Europeans, Level 42, Marc Almond, Nik Kershaw, and Public Image Ltd.

1. “I’ll Compete” (3:21)
2. “Yesterday’s Men” (4:37) features harpist Judd Lander, recently heard on the Culture Club hit “Church of the Poison Mind.”
3. “Uncle Sam” (4:16)
4. “White Heat” (3:47)
5. “Mad Not Mad” (4:10)

6. “Sweetest Girl” (5:47) originated as an October 1981 a-side by Scritti Politti; written by singer Green Gartside and included on the band’s 1982 debut album Songs to Remember.
7. “Burning the Boats” (4:31)
8. “Tears You Can’t Hide” (3:08) Smash
9. “Time” (4:18)
10. “Coldest Day” (4:24) Producer Clive Langer takes credit as a third co-writer.

Sessions took place in March–April 1985 at London’s AIR and Westside Studios, where Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley produced Mad Not Mad between projects with Marilyn and Lloyd Cole & The Commotions. AIR staffer Marr Howe (Rational Youth, Red Box) co-engineered Not Mad with budding soundmen Mark Saunders (Commotions, Robert Wyatt) and Richard Sullivan (Comsat Angels). Not Mad credits ex-Scritti percussionist Tom Morley with “computer supervision.”

Mad Not Mad presents a constellation image of the member’s heads highlighted in black surround by Dutch photojournalist Anton Corbijn, whose photography also appears on 1984–85 albums by Carmel, Echo & The Bunnymen, Propaganda, Simple Minds, Siouxsie & The Banshees, and U2. The inner-sleeve features monochrome studio pics by Smash Hits photojournalist Clare Muller (King, Big Sound Authority). Not Mad features sleeve design by Style Council visualist Simon Halfon and a back-cover critter doodle (in the shape of Great Britain) by (recent Orange Juice) illustrator Ian Wright.

Madness released “Yesterday’s Men” on August 19 as an advance single backed with Suggs’ exclusive “All I Knew.” The 12″ features a double-length “Yesterday’s Men” (8:05).

B. “All I Knew” (3:07)

The video for “Yesterday’s Men” shows an inauspicious day begin for Thompson (bald, riding the arm of a conveyor), Foreman (long-haired, emerging from a street hole), Woodgate (emerging from a garbage can), Smash (waking in bushes), Bedford (exiting a Washeteria), and Suggs (exiting a terminal in a dusty coat). They perform in a dark studio space lined with crosswalk stripes that the extras follow single file. On the instrumental break, Lee sports a Shemp wig and blows bubbles from his saxophone.

On October 14, Madness lifted “Uncle Sam” as the second single, backed with the non-album Foreman number “Please Don’t Go.” The 12″ contains an “Uncle Sam” Raygun mix (6:42). The 7″ picture disc features a 33rpm b-side with a third track, “Inanity Over Christmas.”

B1. “Please Don’t Go” (3:21)
B2. “Inanity Over Christmas” (3:50)

In the “Uncle Sam” video, a humble suburban setting becomes a play-act war zone as Madness each receive draft letters from Uncle Sam. They reappear on a foreign isle as a military band. Thompson taunts the general Maxwell Q-style in an attempt to get discharged.

Mad Not Mad reached No. 16 on the UK Albums Chart.


On February 10, 1986, “The Sweetest Girl” became the third Mad Not Mad single, backed with the Thompson–Woodgate exclusive “Jennie (A Portrait Of).”

B. “Jennie (A Portrait Of)” (3:24)

In “The Sweetest Girl” video, Madness perform with Afrodiziak in a white studio space, intercut with scenes of Cupid (a bearded Chas) and a black-space head scene similar to the Not Mad cover. They squeeze inside a single blazer as a red-dress lady tries to dance with them. Suggs later takes the honor but when he swings her back, her head pops off and reveals wires and chords.

The 12″ contains a “Sweetest Girl” extended mix (6:34) and dub mix (7:01).

“(Waiting For) The Ghost Train”

On October 27, 1986, Madness released “(Waiting For) The Ghost Train,” a Suggs original backed with “Maybe In Another Life,” a joint-write between Bedford, Thompson, and Woodgate. The 12″ also contains “Seven Year Scratch,” a mash-up of multiple Madness songs joint-credited to Prince Buster, Gartside, and Madness.

A1. “(Waiting For) The Ghost Train” (3:41)
A2. “Maybe in Another Life” (2:59)
B. “Seven Year Scratch” (8:39)

In the “Ghost Train” video, Madness perform in newsprint suits in a white studio with a Cairo East roundel (first seen on the Absolutely inner-sleeve) pasted to the wall and cutout letters sprawled across the floor. They reprise their nutty train dance and stand side-to-side on a stage conveyor.

“(Waiting For) The Ghost Train” reached No. 9 in Ireland and No. 18 on the UK Singles Chart.


  • One Step Beyond… (1979)
  • Absolutely (1980)
  • 7 (1981)
  • The Rise & Fall (1982)
  • Keep Moving (1984)
  • Mad Not Mad (1985)
  • The Madness (1988)


1 thought on “Madness

  1. Original intro (2018): “Comprised of between six and seven members during various iterations, the band emerged amidst the two-tone/ska craze that swept the UK at the turn of the 1980s.

    Formed circa 1976/77 in the North London borough of Camden, Madness — initially called the Camden Invaders — was inspired by the lavish arrangements, tuneful angularity, and stage-bound charisma of Deaf School, the Liverpool eight-piece whose 1976 debut, 2nd Honeymoon, was a turntable favorite among Madness members, who produced similar large sounds thanks to their brass-augmented lineup.

    In October 1979, Madness exploded on the UK public with the skankin’ toaster “One Step Beyond” and its namesake album. Many hits followed as the band evolved from the choppy, staccato sounds and rhythms of their debut to the soulful carnival pop that endeared them to MTV audiences across the pond, an achievement marked by the band’s twin “house” hits of 1982: the zoloey “House of Fun” and the stately piano-thumper “Our House.”

    After charting with the 1986 single “Ghost Train,” Madness dissolved but later reunited with altered lineups.

    The first six Madness albums were produced by ex-Deaf School guitarist–composer Clive Langer, who used similar sounds on his concurrent recordings with The Boxes.”

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