The Liberty of Norton Folgate

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The Liberty of Norton Folgate
Studio album by
Released18 May 2009
StudioThe Yard, Miloco and Toe Rag Studios, London
LabelLucky Seven Records
Yep Roc Records (US)
ProducerClive Langer
Alan Winstanley
Madness chronology
The Dangermen Sessions Vol. 1
The Liberty of Norton Folgate
Total Madness

The Liberty of Norton Folgate is the ninth studio album by the British band Madness, released on 18 May 2009. The band worked on the album for close to three years and it was their first album of new material since 1999's Wonderful.


The 10-minute title track recounts the social history of a corner of east London that until 1900 was controlled by St Paul's Cathedral.[1] As a "liberty" it was not legally independent, but the rights of the Crown over the land had been waived. A shortened version of the track "The Liberty of Norton Folgate" was made available on YouTube in mid May 2008. In December a boxset of the album was offered for pre-order on the Madness website; those who ordered were entitled to a digital download of the album on 20 December. Twenty-three tracks were recorded for the album, of which fifteen made it on to the album to be released in May. The twelve tracks issued in the digital download leaked onto the internet on 25 December 2008. During concerts in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide at the end of March 2009, Suggs stated that "Dust Devil" would be the second single off the new album; second when accounting for the 2008 release of "NW5". It was released on 11 May, one week before the album. A third single, "Sugar and Spice" (with slightly different lyrics and intro to the album version) was released to radio in July, and on 21 July it was confirmed that it would be made available as a download single from 2 August on iTunes and 3 August from other retailers.

In November 2009 the band announced the release of a fourth single scheduled for 11 January 2010: "Forever Young", a favourite of both fans and band. Apart from several remixes, one of the single formats contains Love Really Hurts (Without You), a Dangermen era cover of the Billy Ocean classic. The release was put back one week and the single was released on 18 January, becoming the second single from the album to fail to chart.

It was produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, who have worked with Madness on all but one of their albums. Recording sessions also took place in Toe Rag studios in late 2006 with Liam Watson, who engineered and mixed Elephant by The White Stripes.

The band showcased a number of songs from the new album during three concerts at London's Hackney Empire in June 2008.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4.5/5 stars link
BBC(favourable) link
The Daily Telegraph4/5 stars link
Evening Standard4/5 stars link
Financial Times5/5 stars link
Hot Press(4/5)
The Independent4/5 stars link
Mojo4/5 stars
MusicOMH4.5/5 stars link
PopMatters9/10 stars link
Rolling Stone3/5 stars link
Scotland on Sunday5/5 stars link
The Times4/5 stars link
Uncut4/5 stars link

Critical reception to The Liberty of Norton Folgate was highly positive, with most critics hailing it as Madness's best album in their thirty-year career. The Financial Times, in a five-star review, lauded that "[at] a stage of life when they might be endlessly revisiting "Our House" and "Baggy Trousers" on the 1980s nostalgia circuit, the much-loved ska-pop band, 30 years after their debut, have ripped up the form book and delivered a knockout album." The BBC described it as a "magnificent magnum opus" and "the most sophisticated and satisfying album of their career."[2] Uncut and Mojo both gave the album four out of five stars, with Uncut stating it as "refreshingly, unexpectedly excellent" and "everything seems to gel – the arrangements are the best ever." Online sources such as MusicOMH say "it may just be the best thing they have ever recorded" and "is everything you would expect of Madness and more." The Word described it as "Peter Ackroyd writing for The Kinks, it's Sherlock Holmes in Albert Square, it's a Mike Leigh movie of Parklife, it's Passport To Pimlico meets Brick Lane, and it is Madness's masterpiece."

The album also made 3rd and 9th place, respectively, in the BBC's and Mojo's "Best albums of 2009" lists (category rock & pop)[3][4]

Track listing[edit]

Standard edition (1 CD)[edit]

This edition was released on 18 May 2009.

  1. "Overture" 1:07 (Mike Barson)
  2. "We Are London" 3:40 (Cathal Smyth)
  3. "Sugar and Spice" 2:52 (Barson)
  4. "Forever Young" 4:36 (Graham McPherson)
  5. "Dust Devil" 3:44 (Lee Thompson, Daniel Woodgate)
  6. "Rainbows" 3:22 (Thompson, Woodgate)
  7. "That Close" 4:10 (McPherson, Chris Foreman)
  8. "MK II" 2:22 (McPherson, Smyth)
  9. "On the Town" 4:32 (Woodgate, Barson) with guest vocals by Rhoda Dakar
  10. "Bingo" 4:06 (Thompson, Barson)
  11. "Idiot Child" 3:18 (Thompson, Barson)
  12. "Africa" 4:19 (Barson)
  13. "NW5" 4:14 (Thompson, Barson)
  14. "Clerkenwell Polka" 4:20 (Smyth)
  15. "The Liberty of Norton Folgate" 10:10 (McPherson, Barson, Smyth)

Special edition boxed set (3 CDs, 1 LP)[edit]

This edition was made available for pre-order in late 2008 and was released on 23 March 2009. It contains a 2 CD version of the album and an additional CD of rehearsal recordings, demos and live recordings. Also included is a Madness "M" pin, a poster, and access to an online area that will contain additional material.

All of disc 3 contains material exclusive to this release. The seven tracks marked with a (*) on disc 2 are also exclusive to this release.

Disc 1
  1. "Overture" (Barson)
  2. "We Are London" (Smyth)
  3. "Sugar and Spice" (Barson)
  4. "Forever Young" (McPherson)
  5. "Dust Devil" (Thompson, Woodgate)
  6. "Rainbows" (Thompson, Woodgate)
  7. "That Close" (McPherson, Foreman)
  8. "MKII" (McPherson, Smyth)
  9. "On the Town" (Woodgate, Barson)
  10. "Clerkenwell Polka" (Smyth)
  11. "The Liberty of Norton Folgate" (McPherson, Barson, Smyth)
Disc 2
  1. "Let's Go" (McPherson, Barson) (*)
  2. "Idiot Child" (Thompson, Barson)
  3. "Mission From Hell" (Thompson, Barson) (*)
  4. "Seven Dials" (McPherson, Barson) (*)
  5. "Hunchback of Torianno" (Thompson, Woodgate) (*)
  6. "Fish & Chips" (Smyth) (*)
  7. "Bingo" (Thompson, Barson)
  8. "NW5" (Thompson, Barson)
  9. "One Fine Day" (McPherson, Foreman) (*)
  10. "The Kiss" (McPherson, Barson) (*)
  11. "Africa" (Barson)
Disc 3 – Practice Makes Perfect Plus Hackney Live
  1. "Dust Devil"
  2. "Let's Go"
  3. "Clerkenwell Polka"
  4. "Forever Young"
  5. "Seven Dials"
  6. "On the Town"
  7. "Fish & Chips Parade"
  8. "Idiot Child"
  9. "We Are London" [Chas Demo]
  10. "We Are London" (Live)
  11. "Idiot Child" (Live)
  12. "Bingo" (Live)
  13. "NW5" (Live)
  14. "On the Town" (Live)
  15. "MKII" (Live)
  16. "Sugar and Spice" (Live)
  17. "Dust Devil" (Live)
  18. "Clerkenwell Polka" (Live)
  19. "Forever Young" (Live)
  20. "The Liberty of Norton Folgate" (Live)

Vinyl LP[edit]

Side A
  1. "We Are London"
  2. "Forever Young"
  3. "Dust Devil"
  4. "Sugar and Spice"
  5. "The Liberty of Norton Folgate"
Side B
  1. "Clerkenwell Polka"
  2. "Bingo"
  3. "Rainbows"
  4. "That Close"
  5. "MKII"
  6. "Idiot Child"
  7. "On the Town"


A 64-minute-long concert film, also titled The Liberty of Norton Folgate was directed by Julien Temple. It screened at the London Independent Film Festival on 17 April 2009.[5][6]

Chart performance[edit]

The Liberty of Norton Folgate reached No. 5 in the UK album charts on 24 May 2009, their highest charting studio album since 7 in 1981. The album also charted at No. 1 on the UK independent album chart. The album went Gold in the UK in October 2009.

Chart (2009) Peak
Belgian Albums Chart (Vl)[7] 70 2
Belgian Albums Chart (Wa)[8] 78 2
Dutch Albums Chart[9] 52 4
European Hot 100 Albums Chart[10] ? 3
French Albums Chart[11] 110 3
German Albums Chart[12] 80 1
Irish Album Chart[citation needed] 31 3
Swedish Albums Chart[13] 47 2
UK Albums Chart[14] 5 13
UK Independent Albums Chart 1 ?


Additional personnel
  • Graham Bush – additional bass
  • Rhoda Dakar – vocals on "On the Town"
  • Jim Parmley – percussion
  • Amber Jolene – backing vocals
  • Sasha Paul – backing vocals
  • Joe Auckland – trumpet
  • Steve Turner – saxophone
  • Michael Kearsey – trombone
  • Mark Brown – clarinet
  • Dave Powell – tuba
  • Sirish Kumar – tabla
  • Andy Findon – Turkish clarinet, zorna, duduk
  • Simon Hale – string arrangements, conductor, additional piano on "MKII"
  • Julian Leaper – violin
  • Emil Chakalov – violin
  • Martin Burgess – violin
  • Sue Briscoe – violin
  • Chris Pitsilledes – viola
  • Nick Holland – cello
  • Millennia Strings – strings
  • The London Session Orchestra led by Gavyn Wright – strings
Production personnel
  • Clive Langer – production, mixing, initial production
  • Alan Winstanley – production, mixing
  • Liam Watson – initial production
  • Finn Eiles – engineer
  • Tim Young – mastering engineer
  • Paul Rider – photography
  • Martin 'Cally' Callomon – art direction, design
  • Nik Rose – retouching, assembly


  1. ^ "The Liberty of Norton Folgate Songfacts". 22 May 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  2. ^ "Michael Quinn: A magnificent magnum opus – at last – from Madness. (7 May 2009) (retrieved 26 May 2010)". Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  3. ^ Mike Diver (6 January 2010). "Mike Diver. BBC Music's Best Albums of 2009 (6 January 2010) (retrieved 26 may 2010)". Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  4. ^ "MOJO Magazine Top 50 Albums of 2009". 28 November 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  5. ^ The film was released on DVD as part of a special "Silver Edition" re-release of the Liberty of Norton Folgate. "The Liberty of Norton Folgate at LIFF 2009". London Independent Film Festival. Archived from the original on 29 April 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  6. ^ "The Liberty of Norton Folgate (2009)". IMDb. Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Official Charts Company". Retrieved 24 June 2008.

External links[edit]