Sheena Easton – Madness, Money and Music (Vinyl or CD/DVD reissue)


1982 was a period of transition for Sheena Easton. If Take My Time had consolidated her success and You Could Have Been With Me had expanded it, then her third album, Madness, Money and Music set its sights squarely on America. It was her final album with producer Christopher Neil and it remains a classy, yet sometimes underappreciated collection with several hidden gems.

Opening track ‘Weekend In Paris’ is a belter and undoubtedly one of my favourite tracks by Sheena. It’s a dramatic song with a first-person narrative that tells the story of a woman who returns home unexpectedly to discover her partner in bed with someone else. She decides to leave him, walk away from it all and start a new life, not as a damaged or broken woman, but as a strong and defiant one. The song has a rockier edge to it, with Whitesnake’s Micky Moody adding some weight to the guitar parts. ‘I found her red heeled stilettoes/I watched them burn in my fire’. Fantastic!

Machinery’ was the first single released from the album and became a UK hit in the summer of 1982. It was a quirky Julia Downes song and perhaps a little left field for Sheena. By contrast ‘Are You Man Enough’ seemed a safe bet – a strong song, a great production, an assertive lyric from a female perspective (penned by Graham Lyle) and a tremendous vocal from Sheena. However, despite a prime-time appearance on The Late Late Breakfast Show and being one of six songs featured in a TV special for ITV at the end of 1982, it became the first of Sheena’s singles to fail to chart. It was a real shame as it was a great pop song that deserved so much better.

Listening to Sheena’s back catalogue in sequence often illuminates several paths not taken. An early flip side ‘Moody (My Love)’ reveals an acoustic folk/pop style that I would have loved to have seen Sheena explore further, whilst ‘Cry’ from her debut album demonstrates that Sheena could have had a great career as a country singer had she chosen to do so. ‘You Do It’, co-written by Nashville based singer/songwriter Deborah Allen, reinforces the latter. It’s a simple song, almost new country in style, and perfectly suited to Sheena’s clear, melodic voice.

The emotional core of the album though is unquestionably the ballads. ‘I Wouldn’t Beg For Water’ is a touching song featuring a tender vocal by Sheena. And then there is a song which has become a standard: ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’. Sheena wasn’t the first person to record and release the song, that honour goes to Roger Whittaker a few months previously. Seven years later Bette Midler’s cover version from the soundtrack of the film ‘Beaches’, would take the song to #1 in America and pick up two Grammys along the way, but, for me, Sheena’s heartfelt rendition remains the version to beat.

As a Sheena Easton fan and someone who bought the vinyl albums first time around, I applaud the thought and care that has gone into these reissues by Cherry Red. Not only have the tracks been remastered but it restores the original album sequence, (the album was edited from 12 songs to 10 for the US release and the later CD reissues mirrored this), but it also incorporates all the B-Sides, two previously unreleased songs and three alternate versions. The reissue also includes a DVD featuring Sheena’s Emmy award winning US TV special ‘Act One’ and three promotional videos along with an informative and well researched set of sleeve notes. Excellent work all round.

Madness Money and Music represented the end of the beginning. Sheena’s next album would be recorded entirely in America using different producers, musicians, and mostly different writers. Christopher Neil would reunite with Sheena Easton thirteen years later for three tracks on her My Cherie album, including the sublime ‘Dance Away The Blues’, but, for now, Madness Money and Music was the closing of a chapter. It was a fine album on which to end it.

Track Listing:

Disc One (CD):

1. Weekend In Paris

2. Are You Man Enough

3. I Wouldn’t Beg For Water

4. Machinery

5. Ice Out In The Rain

6. I Don’t Need Your Word

7. Madness Money And Music

8. There When I Needed You

9. Wind Beneath My Wings

10. You Do It

11. In The Winter

12. Please Don’t Sympathise

13. So We Say Goodbye

14. Loner

15. Some Of Us Will

16. Woman

17. The Lonely Stay Alone

18. Weekend In Paris (Alternate Version)

19. Madness Money & Music (Alternate Version)

20 Ice Out In The Rain (12” Version)

Disc Two (DVD):

‘Act One TV Special’

1. A Song For You

2. Feelings (excerpt)

3. For Your Eyes Only

4. He’s A Rebel

5. Last Night In Danceland

6. Boogie Down (Al Jarreau)

7. Roof Garden

8. We’ve Got Tonight

9. The Entertainer

10. Out Here On My Own

11. Madness Money And Music

12. Wind Beneath My Wings

Promotional Videos:

13. Machinery

14. Are You Man Enough

15. Ice Out In The Rain