The nuttiest part of this book is that it’s actually the first ever proper Madness biography. Several have been advertised, mooted, started, deleted or abandoned over the years and, by the author’s own admission, this one too was delayed by as much as a year.
While comprehensive, House Of Fun only hints at the murky past of some band members whose formative years were not exactly angelic, though these histories aren’t explored to any great extent. Perhaps if Suggs ever gets round to writing his autobiography properly, all will be revealed about a group who can now convincingly make a case for National Treasure status.
But RC’s Reed succeeds in untangling the complexities of the familial relationship, while examining the culture of the music and geography around the band. By doing so, the author contextualises the rise, fall and triumphant comeback(s) of the Londoners with a confidence that makes this long overdue book appealingly accessible. But, what primarily comes through House Of Fun’s absorbing tale is that, given the seven strong personalities within the group, it’s a miracle they ever manage to reach a consensus to do anything at all.