Sunday, August 19, 2012

Great Albums: 50 - Madness Presents The Rise and Fall (Madness, 1982)

So 50 great albums, eh?  Not - obviously - the 50 greatest, since that's a value judgment of massive proportions, possibly requiring a metric which is beyond me.  Not even My 50 Favourite Albums, since there'll be a band I've never hear dof along any minute now with an album which requires me to listen to it fifteen times a day for the next two months and which would spend those entire 80 weeks in my Top Ten.  Just 50 albums which, on the day in question, I happen to think are great, for one reason or other (I might mention the reason, I might not - depends if it has anything to do with Doing It, I suspect - it could go all 50 Shades of Grey in here quick as fuck, you know.  Or not.  Annnyyyyway....)

The Rise and Fall - Madness (1982)

This was the first album I ever actually asked someone to buy me.  It was December 1982 - and wait,  stop there.  That's actually quite odd, since I've always thought that the first albums I ever owned were Now That's What I call Music and Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture, but I got them from my dad at Christmas 1983, and this predates that by a year (I definitely got it for the Xmas it came out because Scott got it too,  and we wouldn't both have got an old record for a present.)  There you go - JNT was right, memory cheats.

Madness were Scott and my favourite band by the length of Princes Street, even though we could only really hear them on the radio (and also possibly via the Greatest Hits' LP, Complete Madness - which came out even earlier, and which I listened to compulsively, thus confusing my personal Timeline of Music Ownership even further!) and this album had already been called Madness' best by the Edinburgh Evening News!

It didn't disappoint, for all that it was a long way from the pop ska of their singles.  Though I didn't realise it at the time, Madness presents The Rise and Fall to give it its full title, started off life as a concept album, revolving round memories of childhood.  The concept quickly got dropped though you can still catch glimpses of it in songs like 'Our House' and 'Rise and Fall' itself.  Instead, the LP is a fantastic fusion of all sorts of unexpected bits and bobs - Indian influences, olde-time music hall, foot-stomping ska, political commentary - even a bit of jazz.  It's been described as the 80s version of the Kinks' excellent 'The Village Green Preservation Society', and they're both albums about Englishness (much like Blur's 'Parklife' in the 90s and PJ Harvey's 'Let England Shake' in the last decade) but I think it's better than the Kinks' release, because there's a huge amount of energy and positivity amongst the pop nostalgia and underlying strands of melancholy.

Spotify Link: The Rise and Fall
Our House video


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Blogger Divemaster GranDad said...

Madness are still one of my favourite bands and I've got all their albums on my playlists. They really were pioneers in the ska movement, weren't they? Brilliant.

Good choice for a first "great" album too...can't wait to see the other 49...

10:08 am  

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