Lucky Seven is Madness’s 2008 “third” artist label following Zarjazz, which ceased in 1986, and Live and Intensified which released via Virgin’s V2 in 2005. Lucky Seven was distributed by Cooking Vinyl. Then by Salvo. Then bu Universal UMG. It’s a toss up which logo is more prominent. These labels proliferate … side project The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra introduced Axe Attack Recordings, yet another label.
In general, I despair of tracing which label is which after 2010. Don’t read this as an essay on Madness music (which hopefully will come elsewhere eventually). The Liberty of Norton Folgate is one of the great “Anglicana” albums and deserves its own page, which it will get one day.
This section is based on my love of Lucky Seven designs.
In terms of singles sales, Madness were the most successful 80s band in Britain, selling six million singles spread over twenty-three hits. At Stiff Records, Madness singles were always noted for good card sleeves, heavyweight quality vinyl and excellent artwork. They also milked the collectability angle. The Madness online retro shop lists 1250 items from their thirty year history. Singles came in all shapes, sizes and colours, and Stiff memorably issued a “Limited edition” of the House of Fun picture disc which ran to a mere 75,000 copies (Limited?). The quality continued on their own Zarjazz imprint.
Lucky Seven is a collectors’ dream with the reproductions here too. These singles were done with loving attention to minute detail and come in the wave of revived vinyl interest. They’re pressed on thick, heavy vinyl. Everything on the label and sleeve is “printed”.
The band were innovative in releasing limited edition CDs of their 2006 tour, each one just named after the town. The humour has to be there The sleeves are uniform but contain little jokes. For example Bournemouth BIC is labelled “formerly Brighton Pavilion.” You have to come from Bournemouth to know how that one hurts!
Sorry reproduces the style of an early Island ska single on the Jump Up label (see Island). The white sleeve is stained, and Madness feel the same about Record & Tape Exchange of Notting Hill as I do (see Sticky stuff ). The torn off price sticker (apparently removing some of the paper below) looks just like a Record & Tape Exchange destructive sticker. Like early DJ singles, the title and artist have been scratched off the label so that other DJs will be unable to find out what this secret monster record is. Fortunately someone has written on the title and artist by hand in blue biro. It’s large hole centre like most Jamaican records.
The NW5 single came in a high-grade (35p to you) PVC sleeve with a sticker sealing the top. While it’s apparently in a rough-weave brown paper bag, you’ll find the inside is white, and as smooth as a baby’s bottom. It’s a printed effect. The label being referenced this time is early Blue Beat. The disc is the thickest I’ve found.
The CD version came in a 7” die cut brown sleeve too, with the CD mounted on a 7” circular card. It had an outer PVC sleeve.
Madness’s 2009 reunion tour single, Dust Devil, is one of the best pastiche sleeves ever. Not only does the sleeve proclaim it to be “juke boxes succes” but it’s even French ex-juke box. The design is a Disques Vogue sleeve circa 1962 (with the only alteration being the M replacing disques vogue), and Madness have interpreted it as a shagged out juke box disc. Actually, these were issues for juke boxes and also used on current releases that might become “succes”. The sellotape down the right side (you can see it over the S) is printed on the sleeve, as is the brown “foxing” over the J, all the crease marks, the scribble on the centre, and the juke box spider. All the creases are in the right place too. It pretends to be on a Jamaican label (33 Bond St. Kgn, Ja) and the label is so small it gives its phone number and has a typed centre credit.
The fourth Lucky Seven single, Sugar and Spice, is the only Madness release to be issued only digitally.
For 2010, Madness went back to vinyl with Forever Young, at a swingeing £5.99, or three times the price of the CD single (which has more tracks). This had a gatefold sleeve with the single in a cardboard inner sleeve that took ten minutes to get out of the gatefold sleeve and then damaged one of the inside pictures. The pastiche turns this time to the labels on late 50s children’s records, and it’s deliberately smaller than normal, and printed to be off centre. It has been “distressed” as usual. It’s exactly the same as the Kidditunes label, an odd label with the same logo and slogan Fun and Joy for Girl and Boy. Swansea-based Kidditunes were still producing 78 rpm five inch discs in 1962 (see Does Size Matter?).
Sugar & Spice
Forever Young … click to enlarge, front and rear
The front is Madness’s attempt at Sergeant Pepper. The guy in the top hat at the rear is England football mascot, the late Ken Bailey, also AFC Bournemouth mascot and a fixture racing round the Bournemouth clubs in 60s and 70s clubs and discos, greeting all and sundry.
Forever Young – inner gatefold, left and right … click to enlarge
Chart positions in the 21st century are a moot point. The first three Lucky seven releases were all #1 on the UK Indie charts.
By 2015, Madness were on Salvo rather than their own label, but Salvo is a distributor. For Record Store Day 2015, they issued the £16.99 single, Lovestruck, complete with pop-up Madness theatre inside:
The name Lucky Seven appears nowhere on it, but they rather blotted their copybook with we collectors with their 2020 Record Store Day release. That was £22.99 which is on the expensive side of wildly over-priced. The essential retro bit was including a cartridge compatibility warning on the rear sleeve. The copyright is 2009 to “Stirling Holdings” licensed to BMG.
Work, Rest, & Play, BMG 2020 … click to enlarge
Lucky SEVEN right? The design fun was the 45s. It was a great era for Madness abums too. Note the Peter “Sergeant Pepper” Blake signature on Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da.
Lucky Seven singles
|Sugar & Spice||Madness||2009||–|
|Never Knew Your Name||Madness||2013||88|
|Can’t Touch Us Now||Madness||2016||–|
It is complicated, as Discogs list both the 2016 CD singles as “Universal UMC” but my CD of Can’t touch Us Now has Lucky Seven in one corner and UMG in the other. Also these late CD singles were really radio demos for downloads and the album.
Lucky Seven albums
|1||On Stage- London||Madness||2006|
|2||On Stage – Glasgow||Madness||2006|
|3||On Stage – Manchester||Madness||2006|
|4||On Stage – Newcastle||Madness||2006|
|5||On Stage – NEC Birmingham||Madness||2006|
|6||On Stage – Bournemouth||Madness||2006|
|7||On Stage – Brighton||Madness||2006|
|8||On Stage – Wembley Arena, London||Madness||2006|
|The Liberty of Norton Folgate||Madness||2009|
|Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da||Madness||2012|
|Can’t Touch Us Now||Madness||2016|
|The Greatest Show On Earth box set||Madness||2016|