🎤  Back in my youth I met some characters who were a right bunch, but what we had in common was that we loved Deaf School.

It’s strange how this theatrical band from Liverpool touched the children of North London. In Madness we’d all listened to Deaf School records. Their first album was a big phenomenon in our lives.

In 1975 they played at the Roundhouse in Camden - the greatest music venue in the world as far as we were concerned - and I was bowled over by them.

You’d had glam rock, which was starting to go all brickies in stack-heel boots. Even pub rock was getting flabby. But Deaf School seemed to elevate themselves above everything. Though they occasionally played in pubs, you were transported into some faded theatre at the turn of the century.

They totally informed the way we formed Madness. It was inspiring that you could have that many people on stage. They offered you the whole mixture, the all-encompassing night out. The music itself was absorbing, but with the visual theatricality you really had 180 degrees.

The interaction of different people on stage, the fact that we had saxophone, piano, two vocalists – a lot of things came from Deaf School.

And we loved the notion that they all had pseudonyms, like Enrico Cadillac. This was all before punk, when everyone did it.

Or Max Ripple, stopping the show half way through to deliver a sermon on the dangers of celery.

Bette Bright, though, was the one that caught my eye . . .

For me, the gigs Deaf School have done recently have been some of the best I’ve seen by any band. It’s not just nostalgia.

One of the first times I got on stage with them, I’d had a few cold drinks and I was a bit emotional. I was going to join in What a Way to End it All, and I said, ‘I’ve got to tell you: Deaf School were one of the biggest influences on Madness.’ And some Scouse wag shouted, ‘Where the fuck did it all go wrong then?’ Which slightly put me off my stride.

Please enjoy . . . .  🎤