Don't Watch That, Watch This
September 1, 2008 7:24 AM   Subscribe

A Critical Appraisal of Madness's Videos

The Prince, One Step Beyond, My Girl, Night Boat To Cairo, Bed And Breakfast Man, Baggy Trousers, Embarrassment, Return Of The Los Palmas 7,Grey Day, Shut Up, It Must Be Love, Cardiac Arrest, House of Fun, Driving In My Car, Our House, Tomorrow's Just Another Day, Wings Of A Dove, The Sun and The Rain, Michael Caine, One Better Day, Yesterday's Men, Uncle Sam, Sweetest Girl (Not the official video), (Waiting for the) Ghost Train, Lovestruck, Johnny The Horse, Drip Fed Fred, Shame & Scandal, Sorry, NW5

An Illustrated Guide To... Madness , The Madness Story 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Official site, Wiki
posted by fearfulsymmetry (46 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
This post contains ten kinds of teh awesome.
posted by bardic at 8:05 AM on September 1, 2008


But why is Suggs holding a microphone when he has no vocals to mime to?

Heh. Does anyone besides me remember Butthead watching this clip and saying 'Is this guy gonna sing, or what?'
posted by jonmc at 8:07 AM on September 1, 2008


I remember that too.
posted by dabitch at 8:10 AM on September 1, 2008


It's interesting that the Baggy Trousers clip starts off with a Honda ad. I would have expected Colgate.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:13 AM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


That almost makes up for that godawful new ad in which Suggs sits at the dinner table marooned in a giant ice cube. Almost.

Suggs, mate, what where you thinking?
posted by feelinglistless at 8:14 AM on September 1, 2008


Suggs, mate, what where you thinking?

I try and convince myself that's not the real Suggs (Though as it comes on during that chav-fest spectacular The X Factor, I can't really comment)


Heh. Does anyone besides me remember Butthead watching this clip and saying 'Is this guy gonna sing, or what?'


There's another one, (Baggy Trousers?) where they are all 'Are they speaking American?, It does'nt sound like American' 'Yeah, it's like 'eh, eh, eh, eh''
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:34 AM on September 1, 2008


When I discovered Madness as teenage California surfer boy, I thought that England had to be the coolest fucking place on the planet. Within a year I was playing sax in a third wave ska band (what are we on, fifth or six wave now?), dating a girl with a mini skirt and a scooter, and generally taking myself a hell of a lot less seriously. I forgot how much fun these videos were, *great* post.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:35 AM on September 1, 2008


and generally taking myself a hell of a lot less seriously.

I still have that. When I'm feeling down, nothing gets me back having fun faster than Madness.

This post contains ten kinds of teh awesome.

That would only be true if there were only ten kinds of awesome. I think it must be higher than that....
posted by DreamerFi at 8:48 AM on September 1, 2008


Agreed.
posted by bardic at 8:55 AM on September 1, 2008


This is a thread of excellence. I used to collect their 7" singles in the '90s and it's great enough just to be reminded of the B-sides. I could never find Cardiac Arrest anywhere.
posted by mippy at 8:58 AM on September 1, 2008


Also, the best things about Embarrassment are a) the fact that the dark subject matter is covered in such a cheery song b) the fact it's so catchy despite not having a chorus.
posted by mippy at 9:03 AM on September 1, 2008


Also, I'd never noticed that most of their songs did that minor chord progression thing in the chorus somehow.

I will stop commenting now.
posted by mippy at 9:05 AM on September 1, 2008


^ as it should jar more than it did with their general style
posted by mippy at 9:06 AM on September 1, 2008


My favorite Our House video was contributed early in the era of internet videos to the internet archive (2004-08-16).
posted by brewsterkahle at 9:08 AM on September 1, 2008


Wedding-DJ-tastic!
posted by Artw at 9:11 AM on September 1, 2008


Oh, that's what House of Fun is about. Duh.
posted by Artw at 9:21 AM on September 1, 2008


This is the heavy heavy monster FPP... the nutsiest FPP around.
posted by not_on_display at 9:23 AM on September 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


I never knew that was Labi Siffre in the "It Must Be love" video. Those Madness videos meant the world to me in High School.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:35 AM on September 1, 2008


who doesn't love madness? they're so f'in loveable. definitely one of my favorite bands ever.
posted by jcruelty at 9:55 AM on September 1, 2008


Wonderful post! I can't stop smiling.
posted by Heretic at 10:13 AM on September 1, 2008


They weren't my favorite two-tone band, but they were on The Young Ones. Twice.
posted by Brittanie at 10:23 AM on September 1, 2008


This music was part of so many good times and happy memories when that was more rare for me. Always great to relive something so pleasant and manically gleeful.
posted by batmonkey at 10:28 AM on September 1, 2008


who doesn't love madness?

They're OK. But I don't love them.
posted by jonmc at 10:30 AM on September 1, 2008


Any way someone could link to this adver featuring Suggs in an ice cube for those of us across the pond who have no clue what you're referring to?
posted by miss lynnster at 10:35 AM on September 1, 2008


Good Mood Food

How used to be done... but sadly a load of kids sailing away with Captain Birdseye probably ain't politically correct any more
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:04 AM on September 1, 2008


Oh and here's the actual ice cube one...

That's the first I've seen it (only watching ITV for X Factor now)... WTF WHAT where you thinking Suggs; though he does pull quite a few 'I'm gonna kill my agent' expressions during it
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:12 AM on September 1, 2008


Spring brings Suggs and shrubbery to life in Jools Holland show. Great song.
posted by Free word order! at 11:22 AM on September 1, 2008


I've had anyone that might potentially survive my death sign a written contract stating that One Step Beyond will be played at my funeral.
posted by thanotopsis at 12:23 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Great post for a great, great band. I've always said that if you don't find yourself helplessly tapping your toes during "Embarrassment," then you are either a member of the Klan or clinically dead.
posted by scody at 1:20 PM on September 1, 2008


who doesn't love madness?

Me. Never been able to shake the impression I formed as a little kid watching TOTP that they were the Cockney novelty wing of Two Tone - good fun, okay music. I mean, if you find yourself in the mood for some of this music and listen to (and/or watch the videos for), say, It Must Be Love followed by Ghost Town, it doesn't really seem all that surprising that Suggs earns his crust mugging in terrible adverts, while Jerry Dammers earns his playing absolutely fucking spectacular DJ sets mining the weirdest corners of Jamaican music and jazz.

Whatever, the videos are brilliant.
posted by jack_mo at 1:25 PM on September 1, 2008


Er, now that I'm listening to Embarrassment, I'm thinking that sticking to opinions formed when I was about seven might not be a foolproof policy. Next you'll be telling me Pete Burns isn't the most glamorous creature ever to stalk the earth.
posted by jack_mo at 1:38 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Terrific post! Lots to dig through there. And I can't believe that I'd forgotten how much I once loved the video for Michael Caine. (Which reminds me that I've never forgotten that I also loved The Jazz Butcher's Peter Lorre -- he's a brick!)
posted by maudlin at 2:32 PM on September 1, 2008


This is madness!
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:54 PM on September 1, 2008


Owing to the accent, the first time I heard One Step Beyond I could have sworn he said: "... the Naziest sound around ..."
posted by bwg at 4:26 PM on September 1, 2008


> This is madness!

Madness? THIS! IS! SP--oh, wait. Yes, it's actually Madness. Terribly sorry.

Carry on.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:39 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


who doesn't love madness?

I like some Madness tunes, but even the mod kids I knew who happened to be denizens of one of the most superficial subcultures around (2nd wave American mods/2-tones) scorned Madness. Probably because they got frequent airplay on the radio, which of course makes them instantly uncool to the average teenager.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:00 PM on September 1, 2008


Madness? THIS! IS! SP--oh, wait. Yes, it's actually Madness. Terribly sorry.

Carry on.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:39 AM on September 2


Oh, lawd. Eponysterical!
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:32 PM on September 1, 2008


Wasn't Suggs the Young Ones landlord?

One of my all time favourtie bands, I think I can honestly say I've been listening to them since I was a little kid and I still like 'em. If you're on the fence about being a fan I recommend going to see them live if you ever get the chance: remember when Madstock was rumoured to have registered like a 5 on the Richter scale because they got so many people dancing in unison? And balconies supposedly fell off buildings? Good times.
posted by fshgrl at 6:54 PM on September 1, 2008


Wasn't Suggs the Young Ones landlord?

That would be Alexi Sayle as Jerzy Balowski .
posted by Artw at 7:02 PM on September 1, 2008


Madness. Madness? Madness! I call it gladness.
posted by jonp72 at 8:08 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Y'know who's doing some good British ska these days? The Rumble Strips.
posted by bardic at 8:44 PM on September 1, 2008


Wow. "Our House" is a much different song when you've just turned 42 and have four kids. Sort of haunting, actually.
posted by mecran01 at 10:51 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Madness helped me get through an 80s childhood in London. Also, I used to live over the road from that park in the Baggy Trousers video. It's in Kentish Town.
posted by Dan Brilliant at 1:40 AM on September 2, 2008


I actually had to explain to a co-worker the other day what Two Tone was.
posted by tommasz at 5:23 AM on September 2, 2008


I am unfamiliar with the videos of Madness but I did see them in the ballroom at the Hub at UW around the time One Step Beyond came out, which was some time before their MTV career began. And they instantly made the top ten of the best live acts I've ever seen*. But then, so did the Specials that year and, then, much later, Bad Manners. Hmm, I suppose I guess that Two Tone ska is over represented in my sample. Well, whatever.

'S funny to recall that night--no one in Seattle had quite wrapped their head around the idea of a flat top as a hipster haircut nor had they thought of wearing pork pie hats or metallic shark skin suits. And the presence of a full time dancer was novel to us. But then this was back when the mosh pit was called slam dancing and was something people had maybe read about but never did.

But, oh, he--Chas Smash?--was the epitome of two tone cool. And he and the band were their own mosh pit--with a couple of running across the stage and leaping into the air head butts between Smash and the lead singer. That was one fun night. They were so good and I didn't even care as much for the record.

*That top ten is more like a top twenty, if pressed-- and features the Grateful Dead at Eagles Auditorium in '68, complete with Pig Pen and Head Lights and audience of 300; Ramblin' Jack Elliott singing 912 Greens at the Sky River Rock Festival that same year, sneaking into hear Son House at the Medicine Show Tavern in 1969 and, oh, all the way up to one or two better Jonathan Richman concerts over the past couple of decades. Maybe that time I saw Taj Mahal double billed with the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

I'd put Clifton Chenier at Bumbershoot in 1978 right up there, too, back in his prime, with that show battling with Johnny Guitar Watson at the Paramount in 1979 for the eternal number one . Man, now that Watson show was like a revelation. But then so was singing Let's Stay Together with Al Green and a couple of thousand other people at Bumbershoot in 1980-something other, that time, too...

posted by y2karl at 12:07 PM on September 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Brilliant post. I remember Madness being one of my personal faves in the 80's. Thanks to the person whose idea it was to play One Step Beyond at their funeral. That one conjured a smile. I would love to attend a funeral where that occurred!
posted by ric2046 at 6:34 PM on September 3, 2008


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