The front cover sees the band standing in front of Chalk Farm tube station in Camden. When the original vinyl was released the first, more sombre, cover photograph was changed to a more animated pose after around 10,000 albums were pressed. The two sleeves can be distinguished by Mike Barson’s holding of the umbrella: in the earlier pressing he holds it up to his chin while in the later, and subsequently used, releases the umbrella is on the ground. The inner sleeve features a London Underground-style roundel for a railway station called «Cairo East» on one side (this roundel later reappeared in the video for «(Waiting For) The Ghost Train» and a history of the group on the other.
Madness are an English ska band from Camden Town, North London, who formed in 1976. One of the most prominent bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s two-tone ska revival, they continue to perform with six of the seven members of their original line-up. Madness’s most successful period was from 1980 to 1986, when the band’s songs spent a total of 214 weeks on the UK Singles Chart. (UB40 shared the same number of weeks, the largest for any British group in the decade, but over a longer period.)
Madness have had 15 singles reach the UK top ten, including “One Step Beyond”, “Baggy Trousers” and “It Must Be Love”, one UK number-one single “House of Fun” and two number ones in Ireland, “House of Fun” and “Wings of a Dove”. “Our House” was their biggest US hit, reaching number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2000, the band received the Ivor Novello Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors for Outstanding Song Collection.
The core of the band formed as the North London Invaders in 1976, and included Mike Barson (Monsieur Barso) on keyboards and vocals, Chris Foreman (Chrissy Boy) on guitar and Lee Thompson (Kix) on saxophone and vocals. They later recruited John Hasler on drums and Cathal Smyth (better known as Chas Smash) on bass guitar. Later in the year, they were joined by lead vocalist Dikron Tulane.
This six-piece line-up lasted until part-way through 1977, when Graham McPherson (better known as Suggs) took over the lead vocals after seeing the band perform in a friend’s garden. Tulane went on to be an actor under the name Dikran Tulaine. Smyth, who left after an argument with Barson, was replaced by Gavin Rodgers, Barson’s girlfriend’s brother. McPherson was kicked out of the band for too often choosing to watch Chelsea instead of rehearsing. Thompson left the band after Barson criticised his saxophone playing.
By 1978, the band had allowed McPherson to return as a vocalist after he had filled in temporarily for Hasler (who had taken over vocals when McPherson was removed). Thompson returned after patching things up with Barson. Drummer Dan Woodgate (Woody) and bass player Mark Bedford (Bedders) also joined the band, replacing Garry Dovey and Rodgers, respectively. After briefly changing their name to Morris and the Minors, the band renamed itself as Madness in 1979, paying homage to one of their favourite songs by ska/reggae artist Prince Buster. The band remained a sextet until late 1979 when Chas Smash rejoined and officially became the seventh member of Madness as a backing vocalist and dancer.
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