Originally released in 1982, "Madness, Money and Music" was Sheena Easton's third album for EMI Records and IMO, the best of her early '80s efforts, despite the lack of any hit singles.
It opens strong with the high-energy, Abba-esque "Machinery", on which the oddly-muted sax and drum machines give it a strange mix of '50s be-bop and '80s dance music. There's even a plucky harp on the outro. Definitely a fun and interesting start to this LP.
"Weekend in Paris" opens quietly and explodes into a fiery tale of infidelity. It has an interesting, three-part structure and the chorus is loud, brash, '80s power-pop at its best.
"I Wouldn't Beg For Water" is the first ballad, and though not as good or powerful as "You Could Have Been With Me", it's a great number. It fizzled out at #64 on Billboard and was the only "hit" from the album, though it did receive lots of airplay on Adult-Contemporary stations in 1983. (Sheena's "We've Got Tonight" duet with Kenny Rogers was her only chart success in the first half of 1983, going Top-10, but did not appear on her album).
"Are You Man Enough" is bouncy, early '80s pop which would have fit perfectly on her first album. It has some funky, Nile Rogers-type background guitar, and though the melody is somewhat all over the place, it's irressistible.
Another excellent song, "Ice Out in the Rain" opens with a rainfall, ominous bassline, and punchy drums. Sheena sounds more subdued on this one and it has a darker feel to it, much like "Maneater" by Hall and Oates, or Agnetha Faltskog's "Can't Shake Loose" (another underrated, forgotten 1983 gem).
The title track "Madness, Money and Music" was mixed in the studio to sound like a live recording. Dare I say Sheena almost achieves stadium-rocker status on this anthematic Jim Steinman-flavored song, which is something you'd expect more of Pat Benatar. Singing of ups-and-downs in the music biz, Sheena is accompanied by celestial backing vocals on this above-average slow rocker.
The sparse arrangement of "Wind Beneath My Wings" does nothing to make you forget the definitive 1989 Bette Midler version, but here Sheena really soars and shows her vocal power during the chorus.
A sultry vibe runs through the appealing "There When I Needed You", though Sheena seems to shout alot of lyrics through this one.
What can one say about the melodramatic piano ballad "In the Winter" except it gets my vote as best "Non-Streisand" I've heard as Sheena channels Barbra perfectly. If you pick out certain phrases, you'd swear it was Babs. Definitely another album high point.
Remember the 1982 song "Personally" by Karla Bonoff? Well, the breezy "You Do It" reminds me of that slightly-bland-but-still-likeable song.
**NOTE - Make sure you buy the version with the 3 bonus tracks **
The first of the three bonus tracks, the dull "Some Of Us Will" is perhaps the weakest with its odd phrasing during the verses. It's exclusion from the original album is justified.
"Loner", on the other hand, with its lack of percussion SHOULD have been boring, but totally transcends its limitations and is the best bonus track, though it only clocks in at two-and-a-half minutes.
The last song "So We Say Goodbye" is a lovely piano ballad, but nothing outstanding, and it's only two minutes long.
Though it lacks any hits, except the minor AC hit "I Wouldn't Beg for Water", this album is definitely an early '80s highlight for fans of Sheena.
on May 5, 2005
When Sheena Easton burst onto the music seen, she was known as the short (5") Scottish lass with the powerful voice. Madness, Money, & Music, Miss Easton's third album, showcases that title to perfection! Sheena Easton has always been one of my favourite singers, and though her last couple of albums have fallen by the wayside (Fabulous-somewhat understandable unfortunately, Freedom-admit I have not heard it yet), she still has the ability to blow your socks off with her vocals. This album, I feel, showcases her best vocal performances despite the fact it came nowhere near the sales of the first two. The third track "I wouldn't Beg for Water" has one of her most heartfelt vocals and hits some notes that "SOAR". Two others that showcase are the title track "Madness, Money and Music" & "In The Winter". When you blend the marvelous Sheen Easton and excellent orchestrations, you have this album. If you are looking for more rock/pop type songs of her next couple of albums you will not find them here, but you will find pure vocal talent with emotion to spare.