When the intensity of of jerry dammers ambitious 2 tone project became too much and the whole thing imploded, taking with it most of the bands involved in the label (including the specials in there original incarnation) it was only Madness whose career continued to rise.
The bands debut single, a jerky ska pop hybrid tribute to ska legend Prince Buster fitted perfectly on the emerging 2 tone records but it was to be their only release on that label. Madness, like the specials, had emerged with a repertoire built around the ska sounds so beloved of late 60s skinheads, but moved on from 2 tone to record for legendary london-centric indie Stiff Records. The label, set up by Dave Robinson and Jake Riviera had begun releasing records in the late 70’s as the excitement of Londons back to basics, energy heavy pub rock scene fast forwarded in to punk and new wave. In some ways it was the perfect label for Madness, a band armed with a sense of fun and likeable, rapscallion london charm alongside the ability to write perfect 3 minute pop songs about everyday (London) life.
Their jaunty pop sound appealed across the board and for the next few years they continued to produce a consistent stream of fantastic hit records all fuelled by a familiar, tinkling pub piano tempo, a classic pop sensibility and a keen eye for those absurd melancholy moments of every day life. They made some fine British pop 45’s.
The bands warm hearted school gang mentality and an ability to be always up for a bit of fun was at its most potent during a faultless run of promo videos they recorded for their single releases. Likewise their sense for the visual extended to this batch of 7 ” picture discs that beat mp3’s hands down eh?