Madness

The Dangermen Sessions Vol.1


Remember in 1998, the last time Madness toured these shores, riding the cusp of the financial third wave of ska with the likes of Blink 182 and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies? A reviewer in my alma mater news rag bemoaned the band's lack of conformity to the then- current trend in ska music, essentially punk with horns, saying that if they would only play ball the whole music scene would be better off.

Feh.

There's no doubt that Madness went out of bounds there for a while, nearly abandoning the 'nutty sound' in favor of a whole series of pop albums. Even though they went that way though, they never lost what it is to be the band Madness: a straightforward but tongue-in-cheek danceable stream of dry British humour® sung inna Jamaican stylee. Although this didn't prove enough to float the boat in 1999's attempt at a comeback, Wonderful, the nuttiest sound around is back this time.
As with every album ever, it's got its highs and lows. A covers album that plays like a disc of originals, there are some songs that were originally ska/reggae and some that were not-some of which turn out to be high points, such as the Kinks' Lola. One of the originally Jamaican high points is Tanamo's Taller Than You Are(if only they'd done Iron Bar!) Right in the middle, missing the mark, are the oft-credited to Tanamo but having roots much older than he goofy song about incest and adultery, Shame and Scandal, and the track that least captured the original, José Felliciano's Rain. A very high note that I was surprised they pulled of was Max Romeo's Iron Shirt.

I'll leave the clever quips to those who are paid to write them. Just check this album out and look forward to Vol. 2 as I am preparing to do. Also, you can pick it up on vinyl now at Jump Up! records.

 

 

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