THE ALBUM -- Madness: "One Step Beyond" (Sire SRK 6085).
It will be sheer madness this Friday at the Bayou as six British new wavers plus a dancing scene-stealer crowd the stage for two shows. The group, Madness, is here on its first U.S. tour in support of its debut album, "One Step Beyond."
Actually, these guys aren't so much wild-and-crazy as they are good muscians. The title track is a good showcase for Lee "Kix" Thompson's impressive sax licks, Mike Barson performs some slick keyboard work over the jungle drum beat on "Tarzan's Nuts" and versatile vocalist Suggs (Graham McPherson) is powerful as a drill seargeant on "Land of Hope and Glory."
One favorite is the ridiculous "In the Middle of the Night," a cut with a sinsiter tone pierced by saxophones. The song chronicles the doings of a knicker thief: When the clock strikes eight And your're snuggled up in bed , He'll be at the garden gate filling underwear with dread .
Madness has tapped into the vein of facetious humor which new wave is mining these days -- and they've come up with a polished production. This album is packed with 15 cuts (including the "Chipmunks Are Go! group cheer), only a couple of which suffer from unintellible lyrics.
Single negative comparison Madness deserve is for its "Swan Lake," done in a near-disco beat. Not that their rendition should be graded next to Tchaikovsky's, but rather against Rick Wakeman's rock version, "Swan Lager." Wakeman's has a fuller sound that avoids turning to camp. But then, Madness probably thinks "camp is go!" too.
The "One Step Beyond" album cover credits Chas Smash with "backing vocals, various shouts and fancy footwork," but apparently he must be seen in concert -- shouting, jeering and otherwise hamming it up as the band plays -- to be appreciated. It should be a fun show if the group is as alive as they are on this dynamic first record.