Cardiac Arrest is one of Madness’s more serious songs, though it retains their signature sound. The lyrics are about a man who literally works himself to death, having a heart attack while he’s on the way to his job. The video features Chas Smith playing the man who has the heat attack while the other members of the band encourage him to not work so hard and to take time to actually enjoy life.
Smith not only stars in the video but he also wrote the song. The song was actually based on his father, who had suffered from repeated heart attacks at the time that the lyrics were composed. Hence, in the video, Smith is almost playing his own father.
Perhaps because of the subject matter, Cardiac Arrest was a rare non-hit for Madness. The song was also banned by BBC Radio 1 because it was felt that the lyrics were too disturbing.
Rather than telling you to “enjoy,” I’ll just suggest taking the song and video’s message to heart.
“The idea of that song was when you’d hear people say, ‘Oh, he’s seen better days,’ like when you see a guy in a suit looking a bit tatty. I thought, ‘What was that one better day?’ Then I had the idea that he would meet this other homeless person that happened to be a woman – and they fell in love. Between them they could engender one better day as people who had, supposedly, seen better days.”
— Graham “Suggs” McPherson on One Better Day
In this song and music video, the lads from Madness prove that they were capable of doing serious songs, along with the comedic romps for which they were best known.
This video was filmed in front of Arlington House, which was a homeless shelter located in the band’s hometown of Camden Town, London. Because this was their final single for Stiff Records, the label refused to put up any money for the video so what you’re seeing here was funded by the band themselves.
In this video, the members of Madness start off as crooks and then they become cops before becoming crooks again. But regardless of which side of the law that the band finds itself on, they’re all always chasing after the band’s lead singer, Suggs. What crime has Suggs committed? It has something to do with cars and a black mask.
In the song, Suggs attempts to convince the police that he’s innocent, even though it’s obvious that he’s guilty. Despite the song’s title, the words “Shut Up” are never heard. Originally, the song was meant to have a verse that would be told from the point of view of the cop, singing about how chasing after petty criminals is keeping him from spending time with his family. At the end of the song, the cop would order Suggs to “Shut up!” However, that verse was ultimately dropped, leaving the request to shut up merely implied.
You may think that this song is actually about something other than driving a car but, according to keyboardist Mike Barson, you’re wrong. As he explained it in The Art of Noise: Conversations with Great Songwriters, “No, it wasn’t about sex … at that time there weren’t many people writing about simple things like driving in your car. You know: rolling your window down, the little joys of life, simple pleasures.”
The video is also a tribute to an actual white 1959 model Morris Minor that the band used to drive from gig to gig before hitting it big. The video finds all the members of Madness playing mechanics and drivers. As frontman Suggs once explained it, “Madness videos were seven extroverts all mucking about trying to outdo each other.”
(Suggs was born Graham McPherson. He chose is his nickname while he was in school, by randomly sticking a pin in an encyclopedia of jazz musicians and hitting Peter Suggs.)
The video was directed by Dave Robinson, who also directed the video for Our House.
From the very early days of music videos (this was back when they were still called “promotional videos”), comes the much beloved video for Madness’s Night Boat To Cairo.
The video was hastily put together to help promote the release of Madness’s Work, Rest, and Play EP, which explains the video’s improvised, deliberately messy feel. The video, which featured the members of the band dressed like stereotypical British explorers, takes place in front of a chroma keyed backdrop of an Egyptian backdrop. While the band runs around the set, the lyrics of the song appear bouncing ball style. It may not be the world’s slickest music video but it feels perfect for Madness.
Night Boat To Cairo was an early hit for Madness, peaking at #6 in the UK music charts and becoming the song with which they traditionally end their shows.
From the minute that I read Lisa Marie’s review of The Island two weeks ago, I knew that I wanted to highlight this video from Madness.
As you can tell from the title, the song is a tribute to Michael Caine and his status as a British cultural icon. The video is based on The IPCRESS File, the best known of the five films in which Caine played Harry Palmer. Harry was the working class equivalent of James Bond. Bond was a glamorous bachelor who slept with beautiful women and traveled the world. Harry, on the other hand, lived alone in a shabby flat, wore glasses, and never got paid what he deserved.
That actually is Michael Caine repeating his name for the song’s hook. When the band first approached him, Caine turned them down because he had never heard of them. Only after his daughter told him how popular Madness was did Caine change his mind. The sample of Caine repeating his own name was meant as a tribute to a scene in The IPCRESS File, in which Harry Palmer resisted a brainwashing attempt by repeating his own name.
Michael Caine spent 8 weeks on the British charts, peaking at number 11.
There are many houses featured in the music video for Madness’s Our House. While the song is about the day-to-day life of the British working class, the video still offers up glimpses of the Playboy Mansion and Buckingham Palace. However, most of the video was filmed at a terrace house in northwest London.
This song is often mistakenly referred to as being a one-hit wonder. While it may be the band’s best-known and most popular song in the United States, it’s just one of the many hits that Madness had in the UK. First formed in 1976 and still together (though they did temporarily break-up for 6 years, from 1986 to 1992), Madness has had 15 singles reach the UK top ten, one UK number one single, and two numbers ones in Ireland. Over the course of the 80s, Madness spent a record 214 weeks on the UK singles charts.
This video was directed by David Robinson, who directed several other videos for Madness. He also directed videos for Robert Plant, The Belle Stars, Robert Palmer, and Tracey Ullman.