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Baggy Trousers by Madness

Updated on September 17, 2012

Madness Baggy Trousers

Baggy Trousers is one of a number of great hit songs from the British band Madness.

Madness are an English pop/ska band from Camden Town in Northwest London that was formed in 1976 and were one of the most prominent bands of the late-1970s 2 Tone ska revival, achieving most of their success in the 1980s.

The core of the band formed in 1976 and included Mike Barson on keyboards and vocals, Chris Foreman on guitar and Lee Thompson on saxophone and vocals. They later recruited John Hasler on drums and Cathal Smyth on bass guitar. They were joined later that year by lead vocalist "Dikron".

This six-piece lineup lasted until part way through 1977, when Graham McPherson (better known as Suggs) took over the lead vocals after seeing the band perform in a friend's garden. The lineup further changed when they dropped Smyth, who was poor on bass guitar, replacing him with Gavin Rogers, an acquaintance of Barson. Next, McPherson was kicked out of the band for too often choosing to watch football instead of rehearsing, and finally, Thompson left the band after Barson criticised his saxophone playing.

After changing their name briefly to Morris and the Minors (a play on words of the famous English car the "Morris Minor"), the band renamed itself as Madness, paying homage to one of their favourite songs by ska/reggae artist Prince Buster.

In 1979 their debut album One Step Beyond was released by Stiff Records, and gave rise to the hit singles One Step Beyond and My Girl. One Step Beyond stayed in the British charts for 37 weeks and reached #2. The band didn't want to release any more singles from the album, feeling that they had already released the best material, however they were persuaded to release more tracks on an EP. The result was the Work Rest and Play EP, which was headlined by the song Night Boat to Cairo. The EP reached #6 in the UK singles chart.

The band's second album, Absolutely, released in 1980, reached #2 in the UK album charts. Absolutely generated some of the band's biggest hits, including Baggy Trousers, which reached #3 in the UK singles chart, Embarrassment which reached #4, and the instrumental Return of the Los Palmas 7 which climbed to #7.

In 1981, the band's third studio album, 7 reached number 5 in the UK album charts and contained three hit singles, Grey Day, Shut Up and Cardiac Arrest. This album was a change in direction from the past. Suggs' vocal performance changed significantly, and his strong Cockney accent from the previous albums had been watered down. The album strayed from the ska-influenced sound of One Step Beyond and Absolutely, and moved towards a more conventional and mature pop sound.

Near the end of 1981, Madness released one of their most recognised songs; a remake of Labi Siffre's 1971 hit It Must Be Love". The song climbed to #4 in the UK, and in 1983, the song peaked at #33 in the US charts. In 1982, Madness released their only number 1 hit to date, House of Fun which they played live on the '80s series The Young Ones. The compilation album Complete Madness also reached #1.

In November '82, Madness released their 4th studio album, The Rise & Fall. The album did well in the UK, but didn't get an American release. Instead, many of the albums songs were included on the US compilation Madness, including Our House, which was their most internationally successful single to date. Our House reached #5 in the UK music charts and #7 in the US charts.

In 1983, their single Wings of a Dove reached #2 in the UK charts, followed by The Sun & The Rain. Their following album, Keep Moving reached #6 in the UK album charts, and two singles from that album reached the top 20 in the UK music charts. The album received some good reviews, with Rolling Stone Magazine giving the album four out of five stars.

In early 1992, It Must Be Love was re-released and reached #6 in the UK singles chart. Following that, the singles compilation Divine Madness was released and rechaed #1 in the album charts.

Madness then announced plans for a reunion concert, Madstock, which was held at Finsbury Park, London in August that year. The original Madness lineup reunited, performing together for the first time since Mike Barson left the band in 1984. Over 75,000 fans attended the weekend festival, and during One Step Beyond, the vibrations of the crowd jumping up and down in time to the music caused an earth tremor which measured over 4.5 on the Richter scale.

A subsequent live album was released, and the associated single, The Harder They Come got to #44 in the UK, with the album reaching #22. The band continued to reunite for annual UK Christmas season tours and held three more Madstock festivals; in 1994, 1996 and 1998.

The band are still performing in 2008, with their most recognised lineup of seven members, although their lineup has varied slightly over the years.

Song Lyrics: Baggy Trousers by Madness

Baggy Trousers - Madness from the album "Absolutely" 1980

Naughty boys in nasty schools

Headmasters breaking all the rules

Having fun and playing fools

Smashing up the woodwork tools

All the teachers in the pub

Passing 'round the ready-rub

Trying not to think of when

The lunch-time bell will ring again.

Oh what fun we had

But, did it really turn out bad

All I learnt at school

Was how to bend not break the rules

Oh what fun we had

But at the time it seemed so bad

Trying different ways

To make a difference to the days.

Headmaster's had enough to-day

All the kids have gone away

Gone to fight with next-door's school

Every term, that is the rule

Sits alone and bends his cane

Same old backsides again

All the small ones tell tall tales

Walking home and squashing snails.

Oh what fun we had

But, did it really turn out bad

All I learnt at school

Was how to bend not break the rules

Oh what fun we had

But at the time it seemed so bad

Trying different ways

To make a difference to the days.

Lots of girls and lots of boys

Lots of smells and lots of noise

Playing football in the park

Kicking Pushbikes after dark

Baggy trousers, dirty shirt

Pulling hair and eating dirt

Teacher comes to break it up

Back of the 'ead with a plastic cup.

Oh what fun we had

But, did it really turn out bad

All I learnt at school

Was how to bend not break the rules

Oh what fun we had

But at the time it seemed so bad

Trying different ways

To make a difference to the days.

Baggy trousers, baggy trousers, baggy trousers

Baggy trousers, baggy trousers, baggy trousers

Madness CD's from Amazon

One of my favourite bands of the 80's, Madness produced some great fun songs. Relive the days of ska, punk and Madness with a Madness CD.

Madness Music Downloads from Amazon

If you don't want to buy the CD, why not download individual songs from Madness for use on your iPod.

Madness Baggy Trousers Videos

Madness Merchandise on eBay

See what rare Madness items eBay has on sale right now. T-shirts and other memorabilia, new and used CD's and DVD's and more.

Slow Baggy Trousers Video - Madness Kronenbourg 1664 Advert

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    • TransplantedSoul profile image


      7 years ago

      I had not heard of these guys. Thanks for the heads up - a recommendation is always a good way to start.

    • sockii profile image

      Nicole Pellegrini 

      7 years ago from New Jersey

      I love Madness, love ska, love 80s music! Cheers for bringing a great band to some more attention!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great band. great lens, and good to see the lyrics in writing - I never paid the words much attention before, quite interesting really, as Madness came from my neck of the woods in London!

      Here's some Angel Blessins for an enjoyable lens

    • SAPearl profile image


      7 years ago

      Fantastic lens, thank you. I've always loved their music but didn't know at all about their history. You learn something new every day!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Kind of fun, thanks for sharing.

    • Richard-H profile image


      7 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      Great song by Madness....and at a time when baggy trousers weren't even a "fashion"!

    • justholidays profile image


      8 years ago

      Oh wow! Madness! I loved this band when I was young and ska became the must type of dance and music! They also were my cousin's favourite band and surely one of the many reasons why I fell in love with England! Thank you so much for such a tribute to one of the most fantastic bands ever and this flash back in the '80s!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      8 years ago

      Very nice lyrics lens, Tony. I like the way you did the background on the lyrics portion. Great videos too!

    • TonyPayne profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Payne 

      10 years ago from Southampton, UK

      [in reply to JaguarJulie] LOL :) No it's a song silly, but I hate those pants hanging down to your knees looks. I don't know how they can't see it looks so stupid!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I'm not particularly a fan of baggy trousers on young men -- especially when I can see their underwear. Oh, hello -- that's something else entirely. Oh sorry. Cute lens Tony!

    • funwithtrains lm profile image

      funwithtrains lm 

      10 years ago

      Another great lens, poddys! 5 stars!

    • AlisonMeacham profile image


      10 years ago

      This song always makes me think of my school days - primary school days of course! One of my favorites from that era.

    • RichLeighHD profile image


      10 years ago

      Great lens for a great song by an exceptional band! The number of times I've listened to the Madness Singles Collection over the years! Brilliant, just brilliant. Have 5 stars for your troubles!

    • debnet profile image


      10 years ago from England

      Just been singing out loud to the lyrics LOL!! Great lens :)

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      10 years ago from Canada

      Great lens! Packed full of information AND with pictures to keep you interested. I have to admit that I'm not a Madness fan but followed this link because you said, "If you like fun and energetic songs and music videos, I definitely recommend Madness." and I was thinking of my teenage son. I'll send him the link!


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