Madness's London songs

Six of the Nutty Boys's best songs about London, as picked by Oliver Keens

  • ‘NW5’

    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.

  • ‘Primrose Hill’

    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.

  • ‘Clerkenwell Polka’

    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.