Theatre Of The Absurd Presents C’est La Vie

12" Coloured Vinyl X2 (33 1/3 RPM)

Union Square Music, BMG




Theatre Of The Absurd Presents C’est La Vie has been released in six separate formats, making it the first Madness album to be marketed in so many multiple configurations. Still, it’s typical for some high-profile artists to issue even more varieties. This Double Vinyl LP issue, aptly named the “Ltd Edition Crystal Clear Gatefold Double Vinyl“, which was actually a unique release from Assai Records with this Exclusive Japanese Inspired Obi Strip edition that was Limited to 300 Hand-numbered copies, is one of the six formats released by BMG. Some of the Limited Edition formats have since sold out. It was noted that all the formats were issued without the band’s knowledge.

In the early months of 2023, amidst the gritty industrial sprawl of Cricklewood, Madness embarked on a transcendent musical voyage that promised to redefine their trajectory. Within the hallowed confines of their recording sessions, overseen by the seasoned maestro Matt Glasbey, each note found its place in a symphony of purpose. While Glasbey’s skilled hand lent every track an aura of finesse, the anthem “In My Street” bore the indelible stamp of Madness‘ revered collaborators, Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley.

Fueled by the mantra “Let Madness be Madness,” the band approached each session with a liberating fervour, embracing their quirks and idiosyncrasies as essential ingredients in their creative alchemy. Describing the recording process as a “perfect antidote to the chaos of the past few years,” they found themselves propelled into a realm of creative synergy, where they felt truly “in the zone.”

The fruits of their labour were unveiled to the world on a momentous day, September 27, 2023, as “Theatre of the Absurd Presents C’est La Vie.” The eponymous single led the charge, its debut on The Radio 2 Breakfast Show heralding the arrival of Madness‘ latest magnum opus. Adding an extra layer of intrigue to the announcement, the band enlisted the talents of esteemed British actress Helen Mirren, whose dramatic reading of select lyrics infused the unveiling with a palpable sense of theatrical flair.

Further enriching the album’s tapestry is a special prologue narrated by the acclaimed actor Martin Freeman, winner of Emmy and BAFTA Awards. Freeman’s longstanding admiration for the band culminated in a unique bond forged during a chance encounter at a meet-and-greet, an anecdote that underscores the profound connection between Madness and their devoted fans.

Delving deeper into the album’s thematic undercurrents, composer and keyboardist Mike ‘Barso’ Barson sheds light on the title track’s reflection of our turbulent times. Barson’s poignant musings reveal a desire to retreat from the world’s madness, a sentiment wryly encapsulated by the suggestion to rename the band ‘Sanity’ instead.

This convergence of talent, vision, and unadulterated Madness culminates in what critics hailed as the band’s “most harmonious recording experience to date.” As the album’s melodies reverberate through the airwaves, Madness once again reaffirms their status as purveyors of timeless brilliance, leaving an indelible mark on the musical landscape for generations to come.


Territory: Worldwide

Release Date: November 17, 2023
Format: 12" Coloured Vinyl X2 (33 1/3 RPM)
Limited Edition: Yes

Label: Union Square Music, BMG

Catalogue Number: 538955310
Barcode: 4050538955316

Manufactured: Germany

Disc Colour: Clear
Pressing: Original Pressing
Release Type: Bootleg


Peak Position: 1
First Chart Date: 30/11/2023
Weeks in Chart: 5
Position DatePosition
30/11/2023 1
07/12/2023 26
14/12/2023 49
21/12/2023 72
28/12/2023 69



1 A1 Prologue "Mr Beckett Sir..." Spoken Word by Martin Freeman. 0:13
1 A2 Theatre Of The Absurd 4:15
1 A3 If I Go Mad 4:36
1 A4 Baby Burglar 4:07
1 B1 Act One "Surrounded On All Sides..." Spoken Word by Martin Freeman. 0:11
1 B2 C'est La Vie 3:10
1 B3 What On Earth Is It (You Take Me For?) 3:07
1 B4 Hour Of Need 4:06
1 B5 Act Two "The Damsel In Distress.." Spoken Word by Martin Freeman. 0:13
1 B6 Round We Go 4:17
2 C1 Act Three "The Situation Deteriorates..." Spoken Word by Martin Freeman. 0:24
2 C2 Lockdown And Frack Off 3:17
2 C3 Beginners 101 4:21
2 C4 Is There Anybody Out There? 3:22
2 C5 The Law According To Dr. Kippah 5:34
2 D1 Epilogue "And So Ladies And Gentlemen..." Spoken Word by Martin Freeman. 0:18
2 D2 Run For Your Life 3:59
2 D3 Set Me Free (Let Me Be) 3:38
2 D4 In My Street Produced by Langer Winstanley 3:46
2 D5 Fin "Ladies And Gentlemen" Spoken Word by Martin Freeman. 0:15


Mike Barson Keyboards, Piano, Organ, Marimba, Tubular Bells, Programming, Crotales, Wurlitzer, Vox Organ, Bells, Hammond Organ, Clavinet Array
Chris Foreman Guitar, Programming Array
Lee Thompson Backing Vocals, Vocals, Tenor Saxophone, Spoken Word Array
Mark Bedford Bass, Double Bass Array
Daniel Woodgate Drums Array
Graham McPherson Backing Vocals, Vocals, Percussion Array
Martin Freeman Spoken Word Array
Mez Clough Backing Vocals, Percussion Band
Mike Kearsey Trombone Band
Steve Hamilton Baritone Saxophone Band
Joe Auckland Trumpet Band
Tina Jacobs Lim Violin Band
Ruth Elder Violin Band
Samuel Kennedy Viola Band
Richard Phillips Cello Band
Matt Glasbey Percussion, Programming, Synths Band
Johnson Etienne Backing Vocals Band
Darren Fordham Backing Vocals Band
Matthew Ward Violin Band
Dan Oates Violin Band
Kit Massey Violin Band
Rachel Robson Viola Band
Rachel Lander Cello Band
Noel Watson Programming, Turntabalist Band


Producer, Recording Engineer Matt Glasbey Produced and Mixed
Producer Clive Langer 'In My Street'
Producer Alan Winstanley 'In My Street'
Engineer, Recording Engineer Andy Coules 'If I Go Mad', 'Baby Burglar', 'Hour Of Need' 'C'est La Vie' & Additional percussion, guitar and piano recorded live at the Palladium.
Engineer Oli Jacobs Excerpts of Live Orchestral Recordings from Madness XL, Kenwood House.
Assistant Engineer Ada Binaj 'Beginners 101'.
Recording Studio Stirling Holdings Limited
Recording Studio RAK Studios 
Recording Studio Kenwood House 
Remastered By Dick Beetham
Graphic Design Paul Agar Design & layout
Photographer Ralph John Perou Madness Photography
Orchestrator Mike Kearsey Brass & Horn Arrangement
Orchestrator Ruth Elder String Arrangement & Orchestration
Orchestrator Tina Jacobs Lim String Arrangement & Orchestration
Band, Orchestrator Mike Barson String & Horn Arrangement & Orchestration
Orchestrator Will Gardner Conductor & String Arrangement


Phonographic Copyright ℗ CTUN LLP
Copyright © CTUN LLP
Licensed To BMG Rights Management (UK)


Record Label CTUN LLP


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