The Fifth Official Madchart 12.09.08 - Counting Down 20 through 11

20 (46) Keep Moving 395

Up 26 spots for the title track of Madness' 5th studio album and written by Suggs, Carl and Chris. For the longest time, I always thought the song was a direct commentary on Mike's departure and how that affected the rest of the band as far as direction goes, but Suggs offers a different explanation: "Carl and I, at my house in Camden mews, were trying to evoke the atmosphere of 'The Bed-Sitting Room', a film with a post-holocaust setting in which Spike Milligan is hanging out of a hot air balloon berating raggedy people stumbling round in a post nuclear wasteland through a loud hailer with the words "keep moving, keep moving". I identified with that - the ridiculousness of where we were going. There's also a bit in which a family live on a tube train going round on the circle line. The Dad, who is Roy Kinnear, jumps off at various stops to rob chocolate machines to feed them, but sometimes misses the doors and has to wait for the train to come back round. Did you see it? Hmmm... well, anyway, that wasn't what we ended up evoking!"


19 (25) Overdone 399

Taken from 'Absolutely', this is a Lee/Chris composition and, at 3 minutes 45 seconds, is the longest track on the album! It's up 6 spots, and 3 of you voted it #1 in their personal charts (including my good Austrian amigette Julia Bardodej and Mr Alan Reddish). It's the narrative of an errant youth trying to reconcile themselves with an estranged parent. Suggs' delivery is perfect, all choked emotion and pauses that speak more than a thousand sobs. "That's one thing that's unfortunately always underestimated about Suggs," says Chris. "He really does have an ability to sing a strongly emotional song without making it appear sentimental!" Lee adds: "We can all hit a nerve point in the heat of the moment with people and none more so than with family. This was my way of saying 'Sorry!' to my Mum. That reminds me I must tell her I love her!" Lee also goes on record when saying that, as far as sax solos go, this track, along with 'Embarrassment', is the one he "enjoyed playing along to immensely" the most. All I can say is that I have to admit I've always guiltily loved this track (same thing can be said about 'Razor Blade Alley') and I can vividly remember myself back in Malta (must have been 14-15, I imagine) crooning away 'Please... forgive me... for the things... that I've done', pretending I was all grown up and stuff! Obviously, at the time, I never got the full meaning of the lyric... I just sang along! No wonder people looked at me a bit funny!


18 (10) Michael Caine 403

1984 was shaping up to be more of the same chart dominance when 'Michael Caine' (the first single off the excellent (and often criminally-underrated) 'Keep Moving' and the band's 18th release) came by. Penned by Carl and Woody, it charted at UK #26 on February 11, 1984, going 13-11-16-22-33-46-66, thus making it only the third time in 18 attempts that Madness failed to make the Top 10. A shame, really, seeing as this particular single was, imho, by far one of their best offerings ever. So it spent 6 weeks in the Top 40 out of a total of 8 weeks in the Top 75. Rumour has it that Michael Caine himself (real name Maurice Micklewhite) either didn't like or had never heard of Madness before his daughter Natasha (apparently a huge fan) told him to do his oft-repeated line 'My name is Michael Caine... I am Michael Caine'. According to Chris, "...Chas had the idea of a song with him uttering those words. His daughter was a fan and she got him to do it. At the end of "Turning Blue" on the "Keep Moving" album you can hear him say "I think we've go it there... don't you?' which he said after a few takes..." Still another rumour persists that Madness and Mr Caine never actually met (I guess kinda similar to The Art Of Noise and Tom Jones who, it is said, never met when they recorded their version of Prince's 'Kiss'), and that they asked (and probably payed for!) permission to record his lines as voice-over straight off one of his interviews! I guess we'll never know for sure, eh? Not that the record was about him anyway... the inspiration was provided by the troubles in Northern Ireland. The video of the song, on the other hand, was based on Michael Caine's own 1965 movie 'The Ipcress File' and, while dropping 8 spots, the track was voted #1 by 3 of you, including a certain Iain Mason. My good pal and one fourth of the mis management team, Jon Young, rightly pointed out to me that maybe they should re-record it as 'Sir Michael Caine', seeing as he's been knighted since its original release (he was formally knighted on November 16, 2000 at Buckingham Palace). Of course, as we all know and appreciate, the great backing vocals on this song (also a #3 hit in Ireland, by the way) were provided by Afrodiziak (singers Caron Wheeler and Claudia Fontaine), who were so prominent on the single 'Life In One Day' by Howard Jones as well as backing Elvis Costello on his single 'Everyday I Write The Book' and his album 'Punch The Clock'. Maybe it's just me, but 'Michael Caine' is the one song by our boys which gives me most grief trying to get to grips with in (attempting to) sing along to! I just find it very difficult to hit the right pitch! Say for example the 'staring at the window, there's nothing he can now do, all he wanted was to remain sane, he can't remember his own name' bit... if I sing it in the 'high' bracket, the first three lines sound forced, whereas if I sing it 'low', I can't go low enough for the last line... makes sense? No, I didn't think so, either! Maybe I'm just a crap singer and we'll leave it at that!


17 (15) In The City 408

Down 2 places this time round and, like clockwork, getting its regular solitary #1 vote (as always!) by one of my best amigos - the one and only (thank God there's only one!) Mr Bringe! A fantastic track indeed, knocked out in 10 minutes flat during the Japanese leg of their Australasian tour on May 12, 1981, according to legend! Featuring on the 'Complete Madness' compilation (another platinum disc in the UK for sales of over 300,000 copies), it's the B-side to 'Cardiac Arrest' and was written by Suggs, Carl, Mike and Chris along with two people who I was not familiar with - Crutchfield and Inoue - until Chrissy Boy kindly and very patiently set me straight: "When we got there, in Japan, we found that their leading songwriters (Crutchfield and Inoue) had written a song for the advert which turned out to be a pastiche of a mockery of a sham of a Madness song. So we rewrote it using a tune Mike had done years before for an ad of some sorts with Suggs (I think) writing some new lyrics. We had to give them (Crutchfield and Inoue) some songwriting credits so we decided to give ourselves credits as well so they got less money. As really it was a Madness song by the time we finished with it!" So that's that, then. I'm sure every self- respecting Madness fan has at some point seen the hilarious Honda City ads! "We were told that if we did these ads we'd be really big there," says Carl. "But it's the same there as it is here. People see you on ads and think you're a wanker!" Also, rather interestingly, the track was released as a double A-side alongside 'Cardiac Arrest' in The Netherlands in 1982 and it peaked at #15 over there.


16 (17) Lovestruck 417

#1 on our 3rd Official Madchart, it's up 1 spot for this Lee and Mike composition. The song received a lot of very good exposure (not from Radio One though), reaching #1 in some airplay charts (notably the very popular BBC Radio 2). Lee said that when he heard that "Virgin were offering Madness an album deal and wanted some songs to go on it, I packed my pen and ink and visited Barso in Amsterdam. Mike got to work straight away, coming up with several songs. First up was (working title) 'Falling For A Lamp Post'... a song of love lost through the bottle and your only friend is a lamp post and the best hangover cure is another. From the opening piano notes tum ti tum ti tum ti... etc, I knew this was going to be an enjoyable session". Although the audience that were hearing the song the most weren't the average single-buying public, buy it they did and, debuting at its peak position of #10 in its first week on July 31, 1999, it then went 20-27-38-48-64-72 for a total of 7 weeks in the UK Top 75. If nothing else, it most certainly proved that Madness' comeback was worthwhile, and although the follow up singles and the album 'Wonderful' suffered from a major lack of publicity at the hands of Virgin as well as hardly any radio time (Suggs went on record in expressing his disappointment at being 'boycotted' by the airwaves when he said: "On behalf of myself and the rest of Madness, I'd like to say 'Fuck you!' to Radio One!"), it consolidated the fact that Madness ("a bright, shining virus of joy" according to Carl) were back to their very best. Got 2 #1 votes on your charts, including a nod from Rob Wardlaw.


15 (78) Shadow Of Fear 419

Taken from 'Absolutely' and written by Suggs and Mike, this track jumps up 63 spots, thus making it the Highest Climber in our chart as well as the highest-placing non-single on the Madchart. It also got a #1 vote. At the time 'The Lot' boxed set came out, Suggs famously said that he "was told that Blur came to Camden Town because they heard us mention it in 'Shadow Of Fear'. How terribly fascinating!" He added that the song is "a very uptempo and jumpy little track which perfectly suited the paranoid lyric of things imagined". It is, in a nutshell, a paranoid, running scared song about the fear of the darker elements at work in the streets of London as the sun is setting. "Madness were the stuff dreams are made of," reflects Dave Robinson. "To find a group where they all wrote, with some really stand-out songs, was good enough. But I had the feeling that here was a band really typifying a certain element of London society, kind of a folk ethos, which is why they became such a big part of people's lives. They were also very naive in a lot of ways. It was a mentor/whippersnapper relationship, and they loved to piss me about."


14 (24) Tomorrow's (Just Another Day) 424

Up 10 notches for this track from 'The Rise & Fall'. Written by Mike and Carl (both of whom, along with himself, Dave Robinson describes as 'a bully') single number 15 was coupled with 'Madness (Is All In The Mind)' for a double A-side release. "It wasn't really depressing," says Suggs, "but it was about the downness of life". It entered the charts at UK #24 on February 19, 1983, and then went 9-8-8-15-30-43-51-63, making it 6 weeks in the Top 40 out of 9 in the Top 75. The 12" version features an excellent, slower (maybe jazzier) take with Elvis Costello tackling the lead vocals. It has also managed to find its way to #98 in Australia, #43 in Germany, #38 in France, #15 in Poland and #2 in Ireland. The original intention for 'Tomorrow's (Just Another Day)' was to do a bluesy version but apparently Suggs couldn't get his tonsils round it. That's where Elvis Costello came in. "I'm depressed, I'm fucked and I'm writing about it..." is Carl's take on why he wrote the song. One has to admit that, for all of their Nutty Boys image, there was a persistent strain of gloom in much of the band's later work, here typified by the fact that the devil-may-care jauntiness of the chorus is undercut by the sheer hopelessness of the verses. The overall effect recalls the best work of Squeeze, a band our boys are rarely compared to. In fact, 'Tomorrow's (Just Another Day), which finds Suggs thinking over his past failures and wondering just where he went wrong, all set to a harmonica-driven Madness stomp, would have sounded perfectly at home on Squeeze's 'East Side Story'. This song also got 3 #1 votes, including ones from one of my very best buddies Sean (or is it 'Seen'? Maybe 'Scene'?) Gaskin as well as a certain 'Swede' I know, Mark 'Chigs' Charlesworth.


13 (28) House Of Fun 426

At the height of their popularity, there were about 30,000 people in their fan club; in 1982 (their best year along with 1981, imho) alone they sold 1.35 million singles. It's up 15 spots for this, our boys' one and (so far... it's always good to be optimistic!) only #1 in the UK charts, with ads in the music press proclaiming 'About time too!' Another gem by Lee and Mike, 'House Of Fun' got top placing on 3 of your charts. The band's 12th single debuted at UK #8 on May 22, 1982. It hit #1 a week later (Madness weren't even anywhere near the UK when it reached the top - they were in Japan!) and stayed on top for two weeks, going 2-5-14-24-42-65 after that, spending 7 weeks in the Top 40 from a total of 9 weeks in the Top 75. It also made #29 in the UK Top 50 Best Selling Singles of 1982 chart but, as far as UK #1 Singles go, Madness' only #1 must have sadly been one of the least successful ever, chart-longevity wise that is, although it still earned them a silver disc for 200,000 plus copies sold in the UK. Apparently, the lyrics were inspired in part by a scene in the film 'Summer Of '42', where one of the protagonists has to buy some condoms for the first time. Chris further clarifies that "on perusal of the lyrics we could tell the subject matter, but we decided not to mention it in interviews before it was released for fear of getting banned. Of course, about two days before it came out, Woody explained the whole theme of the song to Record Mirror. Oh, how we laughed!" When confronted with the notion that the band forgot to put in a chorus and had to edit it in later and that, if you listen to it carefully, you can hear that it's ever so slightly slower than the rest of the song, Chris had this to say: "It is indeed. But we didn't 'forget' to put a chorus in. In fact, it was Suggs and I that wrote the chorus. The song was not too good without it and we needed a new single for our forthcoming compilation album 'Complete Madness'. We then recorded the chorus which was then edited into the song. Of course, as was normally the case, Suggs and myself got no songwriting credit on the track. But at the time I thought... "Well Barso has done enough 'bits' on my songs" so I wasn't really worried about it. Of course I never have been since then really. When 'House Of Fun' became our first (and criminally only!) Number One, Barso sort of mumbled "Yeah er... that's... good... ain't it?... seeing as er... well... er... we sort of all wrote it, didn't we?" in an almost embarrassed tone. Great days. If you listen really closely to the first line of the chorus, it sounds more like "..elcome to the House of Fun.." as it was so tight to 'drop' in you can still hear the joins..." Other sources offer a slightly different take on proceedings, in that it's been stated that Stiff Records' supremo Dave Robinson turned up at the studio towards the end of the sessions of what was then still being called 'Chemist Facade' and demanded to know "Where's the fucking chorus?" At that point, what is now the bridge was then the chorus - 'This is a chemist, not a joker's shop.' Robinson wasn't impressed. "You've got to have a chorus," he insisted, and the result was that Mike Barson immediately sat down at the piano and wrote the 'Welcome to the house of fun' refrain. "That meant we had to record it," says Alan Winstanley. "However, we didn't want to re-record the whole song, so I copied the entire multitrack from that bridge and just used the drums, and then we overdubbed all of the chorus instruments and vocals onto that before I had to re-edit it into the multitrack. In this day and age, with crossfades and Pro Tools, it would be a piece of piss, but back then it was a nightmare. When Suggs sang 'Welcome' it was just before the downbeat of the bar, so when I edited it in it went 'elcome to the house of fun,' completely missing out the 'W'. The only solution was for him to go back in and dub in all the 'welcomes'. That was quite a challenge, and all because the song's focus moved away from the chemist shop." 'House Of Fun' (which, apart from also making #5 in Australia and #1 in Ireland, is a song "The Record Mirror once slagged off, saying it sounded like a corpse bouncing on a trampolene!", according to Chris - Carl, on the other hand, is convinced it was actually NME and he sees it as an 'inverted compliment'!) is proclaimed to be the only UK #1 about contraception! This was the 501st song to hit the top in the UK, knocking that year's Eurovision Song Contest winner Nicole off the coveted #1 spot. The song also put Madness in the record books as the first act ever to have the #1 single, album and video simultaneously in the UK. The album and video were, of course, 'Complete Madness', the first compilation album which also made #3 and #50 in the 'end of year' UK Best Selling Albums Charts of 1982 and 1983 respectively! More chart stats for you: re-entering the UK chart as a re-issue on April 25, 1992, 'House Of Fun' peaked at #40 during a 3-week chart run of 40-42-63 in the Top 75. It also got a #1 vote on two of your charts (including a nod from Maria Solodky). We'll leave the final word to Suggs who, when he was still doing his radio show, once said: "I don't often listen to our records but this is the one I get the most requests for on my Virgin Radio show. Why? It is the one that 45 year old men and their sons both like, it appeals to them, and me, because we all have a teenager at heart!"


12 (13) One Better Day 431

Up 1 place for this beautiful classic (a song of hope and wonder inspired by the Camden Town drunk tank Arlington House) penned by Suggs and Mark, which was released as a single at the last minute in favour of 'Victoria Gardens'. Our heroes' 19th single... and the debate still goes on as to whether 'One Better Day' was the wisest choice, at least chart wise. Both are good in their own right and, as much as I love the single, 'Victoria Gardens' would probably have fared better in the charts. At any rate, the song bowed at UK #30 on June 2, 1984, progressing to 18-17-25-38-49-74, making it the lowest-placing Madness single ever at the time, spending a mere 5 weeks in the Top 40 out of a meagre 7 in the Top 75 ('mere' and 'meagre' by Mad standards, of course... definitely not impressive reading compared to their previous achievements!). "Dave Robinson had a pretty pivotal role", Mike had said one time. "He picked all the singles and gave direction. We had a few rows, of course, but he captured what we had without ever trying to dictate it, although he was pretty conniving, which was good. You'd say no to things and he'd do them anyway..." Chris says that it is "one of the last and best songs that we all worked on together before Mike left". Suggs adds that "Mark had a set of very emotive chords which instantly produced these lyrics in my mind which Mike wove together with an on-the-spot melody. By the way, the title refers to the phrase 'He's seen better days'. It was originally going to be about how much I liked living in London. I'd just got back from America, was walking along and I felt great. I'd had a bit to drink, and I kept bumping into people that I knew, and when I looked at Arlington House, I thought 'Oh this is great. All the characters that Camden's got'. But when I went back in the morning, I kind of knew that it wasn't like that, and that's how it started. It's a terrible place. It's for displaced persons, not a home for psychopaths or loonies, but that's the way they're treated - like not being allowed in their rooms during the day. There's lots of people that aren't there because they're tramps or can't cope... just because they've got nothing. No money, and no life!" Speaking about his 'lack' of compositions in the Mad camp, Mark (whose first musical love was Motown and the first record he ever bought was 'I Can See Clearly Now' by Johnny Nash) says: "I never felt any pressure to write songs, because we had so many good writers, and anyway we'd all put our two bob's worth in, bashing someone's song into shape." "Having a successful group is like being a soccer player - you only last as long as your knees hold out," muses Dave Robinson. "When Mike left, a very important balance was gone, and they went to Virgin wanting to put out songs they felt were meaningful. They tried to move their market from liking them for one reason to liking them for another and that was very difficult. If you get a market you have to appreciate it. It won't come back if you lose it." The song (which also hit #8 in Ireland) is basically the tale of two tramps meeting and falling in love, all set to one of the band's best musical backdrops. Suggs reckons that "for Madness, the Holy Grail is to be simple without being stupid", and this record (voted #1 by Wayne Barker) captured the emotion of the lyrics without ever really becoming mawkish. It is, as one fan who admitted they listened to it every day for the longest time and never got tired of it was telling me, "slow, mellow and thought-provoking."


11 (NEW) NW5 435

A brilliant Barson/Thompson composition (already considered a classic by most!) which deservedly powers its way into our chart as the highest New Entry. The cut is "a personal song to Lee our saxophone player who wrote it about his carryings-on in NW 5 and it's a place that we've all had dalliances in, passed through, go round, go under and lived around and about for a long time", says Suggs. "I've known Mr Barson since we were about three or four," confides Lee. "I think we went to see 'Bridge On The River Kwai' together!" The song 'NW5' is a direct reference to the area the band come from (the North London streets around Kentish Town, Chalk Farm and Camden Town) and it got 3 #1 votes on your lists, including ones by Robert-Jan Breeman and Jim Lavery. Says Lee: "The song is about a friend of mine from NW5 who I used to hang about with as far back as the mid-60s, who unfortunately passed on. I went on to become a pop star and he got into the dark side of life. I'm no angel... I got into alcohol a bit but he got into the hard stuff, some pretty heavy drugs. It's about friendship and how life can change you. I live in High Barnet now but I always find myself being dragged back to Camden. Music-wise in London, nothing goes on North of the Bull And Gate or the Forum! One of the last times I went down to Camden, I got a bit pissed up and I ended up getting mugged. I'd been in the World's End and I ended up getting done over in Camden Town. Camden's always been a bit like that!" "It's a strange zeitgeist, I know", confirms Suggs. "I remember when Camden wasn't fashionable at all. It was the place you'd meet your mates before going somewhere better. But now... I was sitting outside the pub a few weeks ago and I saw Blur going up one side of the street, Oasis coming down the other, Morrissey coming out of a drainpipe, all within 10 minutes!" Anyway, the song entered the UK charts at its peak position of #24 on January 26, 2008, dropping down to #48 a week later for a 2-week stay in the Top 75. And if my intensive and extensive research (it really was thorough... honest!) is as accurate as I would like it to be, this song was also a #12 hit in Turkey!


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