Madness are a British pop/ska band from Camden Town, London, that formed in 1976. The band continue to perform with their most recognised line-up of seven members, although their line-up has varied slightly over the years. They were one of the most prominent bands of the late-1970s 2 Tone ska revival.
Madness achieved most of their success in the early to mid 1980s. Both Madness and UB40 spent 214 weeks on the UK singles charts over the course of the decade, holding the record for most weeks spent by a group in the 1980s UK singles charts. However, Madness achieved this in a shorter time period (1980–1986).
Frequent themes in Madness' songs included childhood memories (e.g., "Baggy Trousers", and "Our House") and petty crime (e.g., "Shut Up", and "Deceives the Eye"). Although Madness were seen by some as somewhat of a humorous band with catchy, bouncy songs, many of their songs took a darker tone (such as the singles "Grey Day" and "Tomorrow's (Just Another Day)") and they sometimes tackled what were, at the time, controversial issues in their lyrics. "Embarrassment" (from the Absolutely album) was written by Lee Thompson, and reflected the unfolding turmoil following the news that his teenage sister had become pregnant and was carrying a black man's child. Madness discussed animal testing in the song "Tomorrow's Dream". The band criticised the National Health Service in "Mrs. Hutchinson", which told the story of a woman who, after several misdiagnoses and mistreatment, became terminally ill. The story was based on the experiences of Mike Barson's mother. Madness' final single prior to disbanding, "(Waiting For) The Ghost Train", commented on apartheid in South Africa.
Here the truceless armies yet / Trample, rolled in blood and sweat; / They kill and kill and never die; / And I think that each is I. // None will part us, none undo / The knot that makes one flesh of two, /
Sick with hatred, sick with pain, / Strangling -- When shall we be slain? // When shall I be dead and rid / Of the wrong my father did? / How long, how long, till spade and hearse / Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
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