Madness's London songs
Six of the Nutty Boys's best songs about London, as picked by Oliver Keens
Showing the influence of great London observers like Ray Davies and David Bowie, this 2008 fan favourite centring on Kentish Town was a surprising hit in Germany, with its single release backed by a live version from Wembley Arena. NW5 in Wembley? A geographical impossibility.
‘Mr Speaker Gets the Word’
Taken from their fourth album, ‘The Rise & Fall’, the Nutty Boys (surely Nutty Men by now?) succeed in evoking the chaotic verbal clutter of an average Sunday spent meandering around Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park.
‘The Liberty of Norton Folgate’
A ten-minute song-cycle about a stretch of road at the end of Bishopsgate that existed outside the City of London’s bye-laws until 1900. Suggs and co stir up the carnival-esque atmosphere of this liberty with a jamboree of music hall styles on this ode to ‘walking wild and free’.
‘We Are London’
The sonic equivalent of an open-top bus tour, with everywhere from Chinatown to Carnaby Street getting namechecked by Suggs. Dyed-in-the-wool Londoners will especially enjoy the shout-out to legendary, after-hours Camden kebab shop, the Marathon Bar.
An imagining of a scene on top of Regent’s Park’s scenic peak. The song talks of a man who ‘opened his window and stared up Primrose Hill’. The only chance of having that view nowadays is if you’re a Russian oligarch.
Loaded with tubas, clarinets and a sense of oompah-inspired jollity, this European knees-up marked a bit of a departure for the lads – balancing a Dickensian tale of debt and despair with a fast and raucous ending that gets faster and faster until your drinks are sent flying across the room.