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The Liberty of Norton Folgate (Bonus Track Version)

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iTunes Review

 An album three years in the making and the first new studio material since 1999’s Wonderful, The Liberty of Norton Folgate has received some of the strongest reviews of this British group’s three-decade-long career. It’s an ambitious collection that ends with the ten-minute title track where a historical recounting of the area outside the old city walls of London that once served as a haven for artists is delivered amongst the group’s diverse songcraft, which transcends the 2-Tone/Second Wave ska of the group’s initial inspirations to incorporate hard rock, nightclub jazz, and even some polka. The group’s musical and conceptual ambitions spill over to the actual spirited playing, well captured by their much lauded production team of Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. “We Are London,” “Sugar and Spice,” and “Forever Young” begin things with pop instincts and an aggressive excitement, while “Dust Devil” and “Rainbows” deliberately lay back and allow the group’s instrumental chops to fill in the grooves. Lots of insidious little melodies hide in the shadows of these experienced players.

Customer Reviews

There back!!

Finally they release this Cd!! Madness has evolved since our house in the 80's and they still have it. Dust Devil is my favorite track but theres not a bad track on this!! now can Itunes get it together and release some of there greatest hits like Baggy Trousers?

A Madness essential!

I don't know what I expected from "The Liberty of Norton Folgate", but in it I found a surprising treasure. It's a sure-fire purchase for Madness fans, but it will even appeal to new fans of the "Nutty boys".

The Liberty of Norton Folgate presents a more mature version of Madness, but retains the irresistible hooks and intonations that have made this band a fan-favorite for decades.

One of the best things about the album is that the sense of humor is still present, but the music is full-featured with incredible piano work, impeccable percussion and horns and tasteful guitar. Suggs' spoken-word-singing is very strong on "Norton Folgate", and the band has never sounded better. This album cries out for a pair of quality headphones!

Standouts include:
"We are London" is a monster cut on the album and it's success as a single is assured. A lyrical trip through that storied town. It features a hooky, bouncing beat that is irresistible. "Live as you please" indeed.

"Rainbows" is a '60's-infused paean to the possibility of the future. Optimism distilled.

"MK 2" rings out as a true Madness enigmatic original. With rich, vivid imagery, the rock solid hook needs nothing else to make this a memorable, albeit brief song.

"On the Town" is my favorite song from this album due to the "Runaway"-inspired opening hook, the incredibly deep lyrics and the surprise guest slot of Two-Tone bandmate Rhoda Dakar. She brings a creepy, soulful and sad touch to this great track. The song concludes with only the drum machine and I'd swear that it was lifted from The Specials. It's brilliant!

The title track relates the story of the real Liberty of Norton Folgate, and it succeeds. A ten-minute whopper with rich textures, the song bobs and weaves through history of this tiny part of London. Not exactly a toe-tapper, it's more of a tableaux and history lesson all-in-one.

That's it, I'm getting a Bowler!


Really great album the encompasses the full range of Madness's styles. Sadly this is missing some of the tracks from the complete double-album which is not yet available online, such as Mission from Hell, and Seven Dials. It does have, however the great tracks NW5, Bingo and, of course, the Liberty of Norton Folgate.


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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