Monday, June 1, 2009

Madness - The Liberty of Norton Folgate

Well I was going to do a big full blown review of this LP, but seeing as you can find one near enough everywhere now I don’t think I’ll bother. I do however feel I should just throw in my 2 pennies worth.
Now Madness LP’s in the past have tended to consist of the 3 or 4 killer tunes that tended to be the singles, plus a few other crowd pleasers, like “Bed & Breakfast Man” or “On the Beat Pete” and the rest just fillers, the awful “Solid Gone” springs automatically to mind. With this LP however I am pained to find a single dud, and I would go so far to say that this is without doubt the finest LP they have ever produced, and is indeed the most complete Madness LP ever!
Every song on here is beautifully crafted, and you can here parts of all their early work thrown into the mix, the frivolity, of “One Step Beyond” and “Absolutely”, the darker elements of “Seven” and the branching out from the ‘Nutty Sound’ of “Rise & Fall”. You can also easily hear the musical hall influence of Dickensian London, indeed title track “The Liberty Of Norton Folgate” is like a mini musical as it tells the story of many diverse characters, while the music changes pace and style with ease. It is like being lead along by the hand, while flying high over London, by some kind of spirit then swooping down for it to relate the tale, before flying off again for the next instalment.
There are a couple of reggae influenced tracks on here in the shape of “Forever Young” with its full on horns and pounding bass, plus the dreamy “Africa” complete with nyabinghi drums. I also really like “We Are London”, which is a funky little groover, which takes you on a tour of the capital, while embracing its diverse ethnicity and cultures while asking can “we all live together as one big family”?
The whole LP is made up of a rich texture of sounds, with clever observational and catchy sing-a-long lyrics that we have come to expect from Madness. I don’t know if this LP will see a rejuvenation in Madness and that they will no longer be seen as ‘a band your dad likes’ but if you are of a certain age and do…. then don't! Go get it and I think you'll be more than pleasantly surprised!

1. Overture
2. We Are London
3. Sugar And Spice
4. Forever Young
5. Dust Devil
6. Rainbows
7. That Close
8. MK II
9. On The Town
10. Bingo
11. Idiot Child
12. Africa
13. NW5
14. Clerkenwell Polka
15. The Liberty Of Norton Folgate

"Possibly the most complete Madness LP ever!!"
“Their first studio album since 1999’s ‘Wonderful’, ‘The Liberty Of Norton Folgate’ comprises fourteen tracks of quintessential Madness; subversive, expansive British pop music at its finest as you would expect from one of the country’s most successful and enduring bands.
As with all previous Madness albums, ‘The Liberty Of Norton Folgate’ features songwriting contributions from across the band and is a timely reminder of the ability of this unique act to turn their hand to multiple musical styles. The band’s home town is the star of the show from lead track ‘We Are London’ through to the closing 10 minute finale of the title track, celebrated for its diversity and characters and as the backdrop to the tales of lives lived. Few bands have come close to soundtracking London in the way of Madness and ‘The Liberty Of Norton Folgate’ is an audio guide to the greatest city on earth.

The title is inspired by one of those wonderful quirks of British law. Norton Folgate is a small area of East London distinct from the surrounding borough in terms of local government, an original ‘libery’ drawing its administration from the people of the area. Originally the haunt of actors and artists, including Christopher Marlowe, Norton Folgate is symbolic of the spirit and independence of London and its people, a city built on innovation and adventure…”

{Taken from the official album blurb….}

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