I don’t know how English music (by which I mean music that sounds uniquely English, rather than music made by Brits that simply sounds international) goes down in the USA these days, but there have been some great artists over the years that maybe haven’t done quite as well as they could have in the Americas.
To set the ball rolling here is Madness
(crap site btw, don’t go unless you really want to), whose Nutty Ska image and very English voices sometimes obscured a band of impressive musical ability and a wonderful way with words.
This compilation features 23 consecutive hits in chronological order that reveal the depth and diversity of their musical reach, going far beyond their Ska roots, even tracks that you think you know sound different after a gap of years. It took my breath away to re-learn that “Our House” has one of the most perfect openings of any pop song, love that bass burp too!
Titles like “My Girl’s Mad At Me”, “Embarrassment”, “Grey Day”, “Shut Up”, “Tomorrow’s Just Another Day”, “One Better Day” and “Yesterday’s Men” highlight a recurrent theme of loss, alienation, betrayal, fear, an increasing sense of wasted precious time and quiet English desperation forming the core of the Madness experience -desperate but still dancing.
Tracks like “Wings Of A Dove”, “Michael Caine” and the covers of Labi Sifre’s “It Must Be Love” (not too bad, actually) and Scritti Politti’s “The Sweetest Girl” (very bad) reminded me how Madness were not always great and ultimately faded away, probably still “Waiting for the Ghost Train” of Fame to call upon them again.
By the way, both the US & UK sites have the same Amaz(on)ing typos “Night Beat To Cairo” and, my personal favourite, “Yesterday’s Menu”! LOL
If you want to know how I came to buy this CD yesterday, or other fascinating trivia of my life, swing by Alienboy’s World