Good morning to you, it rained all night here so the air has a nice and fresh quality rarely associated with the desert. Lovely. This won’t be a long post therefore as I need to fuel up on coffee and then take the bicycle out and get some exercise or at the very least go and walk the Clash Blog dog (written earlier, completed this evening). Kim just bought the dog a red wool jumper, I don’t know about that. I noticed on yesterday’s post a glaring error and normally if I make a mistake or don’t fact check I’m corrected rather quickly by readers, this time though, nothing. The title of the post yesterday referenced Paul performing once again with The Good, The Bad and The Queen which I abbreviated to TGTGaTQ in the post headline which means nothing at all, brilliant. A schoolboy error and once I’m shocked to have got away with. What next? Mike Jones, Joe Strimmer, Paul Simon, Tipper Headon? Perhaps I’m getting senile after all, I noticed yesterday I’m struggling to remember lyrics from songs more often than once before.
Old songs are what brought me to today’s post also as I was listening to Madness while working in the ‘garage of fear’ yesterday sorting through a ridiculous mountain of stuff. I know that The Specials and The Beat are the two bands from that genre that I’ve returned to more often over the years but for a good spell during those first 3 or 4 albums especially I was essentially mad about Madness too. I liked the fact that they were from north London and although they were hugely successful (in Europe if not North America) you always sensed that it hadn’t gone to their collective seven (and then six) heads. Madness as a live band were never going to be as fiery as The Clash or attract quite the same element as The Specials but they were the best band imaginable if you were a teenager racing down cider and planning to dance badly for an hour and a half.
To the casual fan who bought the singles and the average observer Madness were seen as a good times for everyone pop band who merged ska, sixties R&B and classic skinhead moonstomping into the ‘nutty sound’. If you weren’t paying attention you might have missed that they had a lot to say as well. Suggs’ lyrics were sharp and observational as the band developed that looked at politics, homelessness, poverty and many inner city issues that the band were in tune with. What was most telling was that the moment the band decided to get far more ‘serious’ in tone on their final album proper the sales dried up and they split up essentially, returning as ‘The Madness’ later on. Subsequently they’ve reformed a few times and continue to tour to great acclaim for the most part.
I’m only nattering on about Madness as Suggs took part in the Quietus (one of my favourite music blogs – bookmark it if you can) ongoing series of ‘my favourite 13 albums of all time’. His selections overall are rather great in my opinion and happily features the debut album by The Clash. What makes the series so interesting is rather than just a list of albums and a sentence about each the artist gives a lengthy explanation as to why he or she chose it. The Clash notes in particular are really interesting but all are worth a read as it describes the impact of The Clash on him, his band and the scene at large. I’d have loved to have been a bit older and kicking around Camden Town in those years. Here’s a link to his thoughts about the Clash album and also one for the entire list. What artists would make your thirteen best albums?
But I always had a soft spot for The Clash, because they had the reggae thing, like us, and there was a bit of soul in their music, for want of a better word. Joe Strummer definitely had a bit of soul in his voice. Every fucking track on that album’s brilliant, but my favourite’s ‘London’s Burning’. – Suggs of Madness on the Clash