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Lee Thompson: One Man's Madness

Lee Thompson: “One Man’s Madness – The Official Soundtrack”

It’s a difficult statistic to come to terms with. Madness has been a functioning unit in one form or another – with only the occasional time out along the way – since 1976. That’s longer than most marriages. Next year their début album One Step Beyond… will be forty years old. So what better way to celebrate the band’s 39th anniversary than with another compilation album?

Obviously there are lots of better ways, given that there are already more far more Madness compilation albums than regular studio albums. In fact, both singer Suggs and airborne saxophonist Lee “Kix” Thompson have separately wandered down similar routes: Suggs’ series of live spoken word shows has been adapted by Julien Temple into a film My Life Story: The Movie, while Thompson has teamed up with director Jeff Baynes to create the feature length “rocku-docu-mockumentary” One Man’s Madness. Both films are due for DVD release soon (the Suggs feature was scheduled for a March release but still doesn’t seem to have materialised), the latter accompanied by a soundtrack CD. You know what that means, of course – another Madness compilation!

There is rather more to the One Man’s Madness double CD than just another rehash of the Nutty Boys’ hits though. Of course the main points of the band’s ’80s heyday are covered – Night Boat to Cairo, Baggy Trousers, House of Fun in its now little heard single version with the crashing ending that sounds like a funfair falling over a cliff – but the hits mingle with less familiar Madness cuts (Deceives the Eye, Rockin’ in A♭, Overdone) and a fair smattering of post-1999 reunion tracks (NW5, Johnny the Horse, Dust Devil). Kix’s other extra-curricular activities are also represented with tracks by the Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra and even Crunch!, Thompson’s early ’90s post-The Madness project with Chris Foreman.

As ever with Madness compilations, there’s no denying the quality of the content, but it’s hard to see this particular set being a big seller in its own right. As with 1993’s ultimately frustrating A- and B-sides collection The Business, the music is continually interrupted by interview snippets which presumably make sense in the context of the film, whereas here they do little but disrupt the flow of the music. Last year’s Full House is a more suitable introduction for the Madness novice; completists may pick this up for the Crunch! tracks but a proper reissue of their long out of print album The Nutty Boys would be more welcome. The album does whet the appetite for the film, though, which promises to be a far more essential purchase.

7/10

Lee Thompson: One Man’s Madness is released on DVD and 2CD on 1 June 2018. The film will also be shown at selected cinemas in May 2018.

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