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Total Madness - The Very Best of Madness

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Album Review

Since Geffen doesn't possess the rights to the bulk of Madness's best, most influential work, Total Madness: The Very Best of Madness isn't the definitive compilation it could have been. Instead of drawing heavily on their early ska singles, Total Madness relies on the latter-day albums Keep Moving and Mad Not Mad, as well as adding three cuts from the 1983 compilation Madness, which means that only four songs — "Our House," "It Must Be Love," "Tomorrow's Just Another Day," "One Step Beyond" — are genuine classics. There are several hits here — such as "Michael Caine," "Wings of a Dove," "Yesterday's Men," and "One Better Day" — but they aren't nearly as vital as "House of Fun," "Night Boat to Cairo," or "Cardiac Arrest," three hit singles which were on Madness. As a result, Total Madness winds up being an overview of Madness in their decline, with a couple of earlier hits thrown in for good measure. On that level, it's pretty entertaining.


Formed: 1978 in Camden, London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Along with the Specials, Madness were one of the leading bands of the ska revival of the late '70s and early '80s. As their career progressed, Madness branched away from their trademark "nutty sound" and incorporated large elements of Motown, soul, and British pop. Although the band managed one crossover American hit in 1983, they remained a British phenomenon, influencing several successive generations of musicians and becoming one of the most beloved groups the country produced during the '80s....
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