Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Madness - Keep Moving

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Keep Moving, the fifth studio album from the British band Madness. It hit number 109 on the US Billboard Album chart (with eight weeks total on the chart) and number 6 in the UK. The US and Canadian version of this 1984 release swapped out two tracks for two others and rearranged the order. For today's review, I will be going with the original UK release order.

Side one starts with the title track. "Keep Moving", which gets its name from a phrase repeated in the 1969 British post-apocalyptic comedy The Bed Sitting Room, has a bouncy and uplifting sound.

"Michael Caine", the first single, hit number 11 in the UK and number 3 in Ireland. The lyrics tell of an informer in Northern Ireland, and the song features vocal samples from the famed English actor who shares the same name as the title.

"Turning Blue" has a quirky and infectious synth line that I like. The ending is cool too with just the percussion for about twenty seconds or so before the fade out.

The second single "One Better Day" reached number 17 in the UK and number 8 in Ireland. I like the tango swing that they use here.

The pleasant pop melody of "March of the Gherkins" is up next.

"Waltz Into Mischief" features a chaotic waltz melody, like a circus that has gone off the rails.

Side two begins with "Brand New Beat".

"Victoria Gardens" is an observation of a growing homeless situation. As always, the band counters darker subject matter with lighter melodies. Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger (of the Beat and General Public) provide guest vocals on the track.

"Samantha" has a fittingly haunting melody to it.

"Time For Tea" paints a domestic drama of a man named Willy who hides from his wife.

"Prospects" contrasts the grind of a daily reality with thoughts of escaping it all. Fittingly, the track has an exotic, tropical rhythm to it.

The record closes with "Give Me a Reason", a song with a bit of a 60's mod-like swing to it.

Madness only had a brief affair with the radio stations here in the US, so I had not heard any of Keep Moving until I did this review. Some of the tracks from collections were on Spotify but not the whole album as a single unit. Luckily YouTube came to the rescue once more with the Official Madness page no less (click here for all of their music). My hat is off to them; that is a great way for a band to make sure their music is available for a whole new audience as well as old fans. I think if I had owned this album back in the 80's that it would have been one I would have brought out every now and again for a revisit. I certainly enjoyed it.

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