Madness – The Liberty Of Norton Folgate
I thought I’d have a go at listing my favourite ten albums of the year. I’m sure everyone else in the world has already done so, but I suggest humbly that my list is also worthy of your time and delectation. Also, I’m totally making it up on the hoof.
10) Madness – The Liberty Of Norton Folgate
They were never an albums band, Madness. The cockney Abba wrote some of the most enduring pop songs of their era, but like most people I assumed they’d be touring off the back of their greatest hits forever, never rudely shredding the nerves of ageing nutty boys by uttering the dreaded words: “…and here’s a new one”.
So it’s with some amazement that I report that The Liberty Of Norton Folgate is an unlikely masterpiece. No single song here matches the rush of Baggy Trousers or House Of Fun, but this coherent concept album reveals the melancholy that was always to be found under the japery. It’s a grower.
The passing of time hangs heavy, which is stuffed with regret, all fading relationships and lost youth. But it’s not all Radioheadian doom and gloom: the joyous opener, We Are London, celebrates their beloved city in all its 21st century glory, “from Regents Park Mosque” to “Old Compton Street where the boys are nice”. I like to listen to it and imagine the responses to the old National Front cunts who may still have been under the misapprehension of which side Madness are on. They won’t be now.