I’ve been listening to the Mad Caddies since my own personal Summer of Love that was the turn of the millennium. Back when I was an unhinged 16yr old screwloose, somebody played me the EP ‘The Holiday Has Been Cancelled’ and the first walloping track off it ‘Falling Down’ had an adverse effect on me, once it kicked in I literally swanton-bombed myself through a coffee table full of empty glasses and moshed through the rest of the song bleeding from several lacerations – yeah, that’s the kind of masochistic idiot I was back then, stupid really. The song remains one of my favourite songs to this day though, and still makes me want to swanton bomb a table every time I hear it.
What began that fateful day though, was a glorious relationship with a group of individuals that were to become one of my favourite bands of all time. From that EP I had to work my way backwards through ‘Quality Softcore’ and ‘Duck & Cover’, and what I found was some of the greatest songs known to man, ‘Monkeys’, ‘Sad Reggie’, ‘Big Brother’, ‘Road Rash’, ‘One Shot’ were just a few of the gems coruscating among a goldmine of great music, the mark of a good band is every track on the record being good, no fillers, and the Mad Caddies nailed that! Secondly, they need to be unafraid to dip into other genres, and with the Mad Caddies’ chopping mirror strewn as it is with lines of everything from punk to ska, reggae to polka, boogaloo to metal, snorted right up and delivered with an intoxicating mixture of genres and genius-timing and feel good vibes, they more than nailed that.
The core of the Mad Caddies’ indescribable sound can be found at the heart of those first two albums, with that firmly mastered they did not rest on their laurels, each record they produced next was entirely different from the last yet just as brilliant. ‘Rock The Plank’ came next, and the pirate-punk songs on that record ‘All American Badass’ and ‘Weird Beard’ were what me and our rowdy heterogeneous gang of NEDs and punks used to listen to in our late teens in Largs, before going out to terrorize the local town and get fucked up on booze and newly-discovered drugs. Fantastic memories, soundtracked in my mind by those three albums.
An absolute opus came next in the form of ‘Just One More’, a Bugsy Malone-style wailing trumpet-drenched album with a healthy smattering of hard, fast punk thrown in, probably one of the most original and inventive albums I’ve ever heard, with such incredible choonage as ‘Drinking For 11’, ‘Contraband’, ‘Villains’, ‘Just One More’ and ‘Last Breath’ (one of my all-time fave songs ever!).
Just as I thought the Mad Caddies couldn’t get any better they go and release 2007’s ‘Keep It Going’, making the obvious yet perfect move of not straying too far from the core of their sound and musical inspirations, this is an out-and-out reggae album, but reggae with slightly more oomph! Reggae is one of my specialist genres and again this is one of the most creative and ground-breaking records of reggae music. ‘Backyard’, ‘Today’, ‘Without You’, ‘Lay Your Head Down’, ‘Coyote’, ‘Don’t Go’ are just some of the defining hits on this record, one of my most-listened-to Mad Cad albums to date.
‘Dirty Rice’ was next, and the band were veering off in yet another crazy genre-defying direction, ‘Brand New Scar’, ‘Shoot Out The Lights’ and ‘Shot in the Dark’ (which has become another Mad Cad fave track of mine) and the group just seem to keep getting better and better, and improving their sound, where will it end? The MadCads are extremely underrated, they are one of the best bands in the world but are still relatively low-key, an absolute hidden treasure buried in Davey Jones’ locker, the depths of the murky waters of modern music.
I’ve been to see the Mad Caddies either in Newcastle or Glasgow or at a festival every time they’ve played Britain since 2000, which is pretty much every time they’ve played Britain. Not only are they one of the best record-producing bands in the world, but they are also one of the all-time greatest live acts to boot! I defy anybody to go to one of their gigs and not be swept off their feet by the sheer majesty of it, the dancing, the heavy rock, the boogaloo trumpets, it’s more intoxicating than that oddly-coloured slosh they were serving at the bar under the guise of cocktails in Newcastle last month.
A Mad Caddies gig is mosh pit meets dancefloor meets ska circle and is an incredible thing to behold, and the music has so much life and vigour in it that you can’t help but have an emotional response to it. My girlfriend Kayleigh ruled the moshpit at that Newcastle gig, marking her complete transition over the years from chav to punkette. She’s come a long way since being terrified by her first moshpit at NOFX in Boomtown four years ago! Haha. I’m too old to mosh now, but I willingly hand my crown down to her.
The Caddies released their latest offering this year, a collection of reggae versions of punk classics, featuring covers of some of my fave punk bands including NOFX, Propaghandi, Greenday, Bad Religion, The Misfits, Lagwagon, The Descendents, Snuff, Against Me, Bracket, Operation Ivy and Tony Sly! Available here https://www.fatwreck.com/record/detail/998 and they are currently on tour, according to Songkick they’ve played 41 concerts already this year, and traversed a total of 522,182 miles!
I’ve got Mad Caddies vinyls and CDs and tshirts and ticket stubs from the gigs I’ve attended, they are the soundtrack to many great memories, both live on stage and through their records at home. If you don’t know them do yourself a favour and start consuming their healthy back catalogue now, there’s not a bad song among it, not one. Hopefully the Mad Caddies will be around for a long time yet, my life would be empty without them, and the many people I’ve introduced to their music over the decades would feel the same I’m sure. Here’s to many more good times to come with the hegemons of ska-reggae, the pioneers of pirate punk and the bastions of boogaloo bonhomie!
Seeya’ in the pit!
C.T Herron (NHC Gonzo Division)