Review: Jack Foley
MADNESS fans may be a little disappointed to discover that the
band's first studio album for six years is, in fact, a collection
of ska covers and pop classics.
But there is still plenty to enjoy in The Dangermen Sessions
Volume 1 given that most of the tracks get given the inimitable
Madness treatment making them distinct in their own right.
The album derives its inspiration from a handful of super-secret
gigs the band did at the tail-end of last year at Camden's Dublin
Castle, under the name of their alter-ego, The Dangermen.
The performances were so well-received that it became clear to
Suggs and co that an album featuring their take on the music that
inspired them might be embraced by their following.
The result only serves to confirm that belief given that, for
once, this is an album of covers that strives to be different.
Highlights include the dub-heavy I Chase The Devil aka Ironshirt,
which updates the Max Romeo classic in a different way to the
one used by The Prodigy on Outer Space.
The trumpets come to the fore, while Suggs' distinct vocals seem
perfectly suited to its laidback swagger.
Likewise, his reggae-ska makeover of Diana Ross' soul classic,
You Keep Me Hanging On, is wonderfully realised, arriving
amid a fanfare of trumpets and a breezy bassline.
It's testament to the band' obvious enjoyment of their craft
that the album is so feel-good, delivering 13 tracks that are
virtually guaranteed to put a smile on the face and have listeners
bouncing and singing along with them.
The Dangermen's version of The Kinks' classic, Lola,
is another surefire party-pleaser, as is their quirky take on
Desmond Dekker's Israelites.
While Bob Marley's So Much Trouble In The World allows
Madness to update a classic that contains vocals that are relevant
to all of us in these troubled times. It's almost reassuring to
hear Suggs delivering them in such exemplary fashion.