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While Madness were still the most fun you could have with your clothes on, their third album, 7, showed a side of the band that we had not seen before. On the surface, the album contained their usual jovial and fun approach to music, yet, lyrically, it pointed in a far more somber direction. The single "Grey Day" was a dub-laden and lyrically depressing come-down after the party the band had on the first two albums... and it was brilliant. "Mrs. Hutchinson" deals with the impending death of a certain hospital patient. "Cardiac Arrest" describes a heart attack brought on by stress. "Shut Up" is sung from the point of view of a career criminal caught in an uncompromising position. Well, OK, so it may not be the 'woe is me' crap that Emo bands have given us in recent years, but for Madness, this was serious stuff. That is not to say that the album isn't fun, because it is. "Benny Bullfrog" is a gem of a tune, no matter how close it gets to novelty. More musically diverse than Absolutely, 7 is a stunning and mature album that this writer feels is one of their best albums, if not their best. Ska fans were sorely disappointed by the lack of skanking tunes, but Madness had grown up and this albums remains a fantastic platter of Pop gems. Once again, Langer & Winstanley's production is flawless. NOTE: While "It Must Be Love" was NOT included on the album, it was released as a single shortly after this album's release and can be found on the bonus disc. One of their all-time finest singles, "It Must Be Love" was a brilliant re-invention of the classic Labi Sifre tune, succeeding on all levels. In fact, many folks think it's a Madness original... and they definitely turn it into a song they can nearly claim as their own.
Disc One features the original 13 track album. Disc Two features three tracks from a Richard Skinner session (including "Tiptoes", which was later recorded for the band's following album, The Rise & Fall) plus eight additional non album tracks (including "It Must Be Love", "In The City" and even the very rare extended version of "Cardiac Arrest").