Madness - Keep Moving

What do you do if you're a group for whom the dance-rock imperative has started to feel like a cliché? If you're bright and British, it's likely you'll either break up the band or take up some new and drastic tangent, just to keep things interesting. Two groups who've chosen the latter course are Thompson Twins and Madness. The three Twins made their name with tunes like "Lies" and "In the Name of Love" – bright, splashy synth sprints designed to pack dance floors. Madness germinated during the Two Tone craze of 1980, suffusing ska music with a dose of zany, vaudevillian humor. Both groups subscribe to the never-repeat-yourself credo of the new-age U.K., which may explain why they're sounding quite different these days.

In the Thompson Twins' case, there are fewer beats per minute on Into the Gap, their third U.S. album. Indeed, leader Tom Bailey and company have slowed it all down to bring the human factor into clearer focus. And while they pay frequent lip service to the word dance, they intend it more in the sense of T.S. Eliot than of K.C. and the Sunshine Band. The sunshine, in fact, is all but obscured by the drizzly day the band evokes. Into the Gap abounds with water imagery – the rain and the sea – both in Alannah Currie's lyrics and Tom Bailey and Joe Leeway's liquid keyboards. It runs from "Doctor! Doctor!" (which begs, "Dance with me/Across the sea") to "Who Can Stop the Rain." In the Twins' view, the "rain" that haunts our lives encompasses personal tribulations ("Storm on the Sea") and world problems ("Into the Gap," which addresses the gulf between East and West). Throughout, the band maintains a hypnotic, swaying groove that suggests reserves of pastoral contentment even in the wake of the storm. As they themselves urge on "Hold Me Now," "Let loving start."

While the Thompson Twins are looking for a spiritual high, Madness settle for high spirits on Keep Moving. In a sense, Madness have gone back to their roots – the British art-pop song, as epitomized by the midperiod Kinks. They have crafted an eccentric, eclectic collection that comprises frilly, flower-power-pop truffles, rock-operatic miniatures about lost faces in the crowd and quaint slices of British life. Snatches of Sixties songs and styles waft through these thoroughly modern tunes like so many friendly ghosts – for instance, the Steve Cropper-type guitar fills that toughen up "Keep Moving," and the Peter and Gordon harmonies of "The Sun and the Rain." Not to mention the organ on "Prospects," which puts a giddy Caribbean spin on Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale." And who else but the Kinks could have inspired a title like "Victoria Gardens"? Keep Moving is such a delightful musical potpourri that Kinks cultists and British Invasion curators may soon be wearing god save madness buttons.

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Track list :

  1. Keep Moving
  2. Michael Caine
  3. Turning Blue
  4. One Better Day
  5. March Of The Gherkins
  6. Waltz Into Mischief
  7. Brand New Beat
  8. Victoria Gardens
  9. Samantha
  10. Time For Tea
  11. Prospects
  12. Give Me A Reason


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