“The Rise And Fall” by Madness - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1982 →Album Chart of the Decade: 1980s →1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die external-link.png

TJR says

The fourth annual long-player from the super seven arrived timeously in November, 1982. They remain: Graham McPherson (lead vocals); Mike Barson (keyboards, harmonica, piano); Chris Foreman (guitars); Lee Thompson (saxophones); Daniel Woodgate (drums); Mark Bedford (bass guitar, double bass) and Cathal Smyth (backing vocals, trumpet). Great songwriting is permanently on show here, especially impressive since it's spread across all members, initially each having been invited to contribute “reflections of yesterday” i.e. to look back to their childhood for song inspiration, a theme which didn't quite make it all the way, some members simply being uncontrollable. (Looking at you Mnsr. Barso).

All the lineage comparisons with Village-Green-era Kinks are entirely on-the-money, in so much that both deliver thoughtful pop, evocative lyrics and a sound which is quintessentially English. “Rise And Fall” serves as an excellent opener and sets the lyrical tone: “We used to live where children play, They leave their homes a mile away, To come and stand in trees and grass, Where we once walked the memories last”. You can just hear the old dears in the streets of '82: 'You couldn't do that now Ethel, oh no'. The much talked about “Blue Skinned Beast” brings the conversation within the contemporary realm, (subtly) comparing Thatcher's war regime to an animal: “three cheers to the blue skinned beast… hip hip”. Ooft. For my money, “Primrose Hill” is the album's outstanding classic, with pianos, xylophones, brass bands and saxophones coming and going as the song marches up to the top of the hill and marches down again.

The appealing tale of every family on every street in “Our House”, released as a single one week after the album, kept the group's profile Top of the Pops and even rewarded them with a surprise Top 10 stateside hit. Daft-as-a-brush Barso delivered “New Dehli”, a fantastic slice of psuedo-desi pop which, I'd like to think, went down well in that community. That said, who could blame them if they were to rip the piss for the inanity of that turban-wearing snake-charmer on the front-cover? They'll always be a bit nutty, and for that be thankful. Rounding off the classy musical affair, “Madness (Is All In The Mind)” recalls “Razor Blade Alley” for a finger-clicking jazzy finale, sung by the none-more-nutty Chas Smash.

One glance at April's “Complete Madness” greatest hits package would convince many that Madness were primarily a singles band. The consistency and cohesion of “The Rise And Fall” rallies against that commonly held view; this album is a game changer, and the group continues to evolve organically and brilliantly.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:16] 8.8.png Madness - Rise And Fall (Graham McPherson, Chris Foreman) Cerebral Pop
A2 [03:10] 7.7.png Madness - Tomorrow’s (Just Another Day) (Mike Barson, Cathal Smyth) New Wave
A3 [03:22] 8.5.png Madness - Blue Skinned Beast (Lee Thompson) Cerebral Pop
A4 [03:36] 9.2.png Madness - Primrose Hill (Graham McPherson, Chris Foreman) Cerebral Pop
A5 [02:59] 8.0.png Madness - Mr. Speaker Gets The Word (Graham McPherson, Mike Barson) Cerebral Pop
A6 [04:01] 7.8.png Madness - Sunday Morning (Daniel Woodgate) Songwriter
B1 [03:23] 9.1.png Madness - Our House (Cathal Smyth, Chris Foreman) Pop
B2 [03:29] 7.6.png Madness - Tiptoes (Graham McPherson, Mike Barson) Dubbeat
B3 [03:40] 8.3.png Madness - New Dehli (Mike Barson) Reggae
B4 [03:39] 7.2.png Madness - That Face (Graham McPherson, Chris Foreman) Reggae
B5 [02:19] 7.1.png Madness - Calling Cards (Lee Thompson, Chris Foreman) Reggae
B6 [03:17] 7.4.png Madness - Are You Coming (With Me) (Lee Thompson, Mike Barson) Songwriter
B7 [02:54] 8.0.png Madness - Madness (Is All In The Mind) (Chris Foreman) Jazz

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