The Liberty of Norton Folgate

The last time I gave much thought to Madness was a few years back when, while spending Christmas in Scotland, I saw this commercial on TV:

Yes, that’s Madness singer Suggs using his band’s biggest hit to help sell fish sticks. I didn’t mind it, really, because I was always a big fan of both Madness and fish sticks.

Early on as my tastes in music began to emerge, I decided that I liked bands with a sense of humour and for a kid raised on Monty Python and, I’ll admit it, Benny Hill, Madness suited that requirement very well indeed. It might be why I was hesitant at first to like Nirvana or Oasis in the 90’s. They seemed so miserable to be on stage. Go sit in a cubicle for a week and then tell me how awful it is to play and record music.

After losing track of them for the last twenty years or so, I was surprised when I heard their single “Sugar and Spice” on Radio 2 last week. It was from “The Liberty of Norton Folgate”, the first studio album off all new material in ten years. It came out in May. It’s a funny thing when you realize that artists you like have been at it for decades and that the stuff that connects with you may not be the most current, or the most popular, or will win the approval of the hipsters who liked that thing that you like long before it became trendy to like it and therefore they don’t like it anymore and you’re lame for still liking it. Despite having been pushed aside by a star system that prizes youth above all, Madness are still out there, doing their thing.

I’ve been listening to the album almost non-stop for a while now and I have to say it might be the best thing they’ve ever done.

Welcome back to the Nutty Boys.


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