One Man’s Madness
A history of ska icons Madness written by and spoken by the band, One Man’s Madness is a mockumentary that epitomises the absurdist comical stylings the group have become known for, which in itself makes for a brilliantly bizarre viewing experience. But what makes this re-telling of the band’s career particularly engaging is how it centres around lyricist/saxophonist/vocalist Lee Thompson (aka Kix), casting him as hero, villain and punchline of the ensemble.
With surreal backdrops, cartoonish costumes and dubbed talking heads (the vast majority of which are Thompson in a variety of ridiculous disguises), this feature is indeed madness in every sense of the word. You never know what the sax player is going to do next – whether it be a caricature of his manager in a burglar outfit or mime operatic renditions of his songs in drag. In this case, there is no identifiable method to the madness of the presentation, but that’s all part of the fun here. Equally applaudable is the deadpan way fellow band members recount tall tales of their friendship with Thompson, from childhood antics to performing together today. These stories can be too ridiculous to believe, but given the musician’s off-the-wall onscreen performances, these stories don’t seem so unbelievable after all.
Fun and games to one side, once you look past the film’s colourful façade, there is still plenty to sink your teeth into. Outside of all the tall tales and caricatures, we are able to get an insight into behind-the-scenes songwriting processes and video shoots as well as gaining a brief overview of how the band came to be alongside Thompson’s own involvement in shaping the group. Perhaps more interesting, though, is the inclusion of a professional musicologist who’s able to break down what makes their music unique, analysing Thompson’s musical contributions as his experience as a saxophonist increased.
Whether you’re a lifelong fan or have never heard of the band before (although this is definitely targeted towards the former), there’s much enjoyment to be found within the rambunctious, whacky aesthetics, and a broader appreciation of their music can be taken away from the documentary. One Man’s Madness is the kind of ludicrous fun that only the group themselves could create, and it’s all the better for it.
One Man’s Madness is released digitally on 1st June 2018.
Watch the trailer for One Man’s Madness here: