Cardiac Arrest

7" Vinyl (45 RPM)

Stiff Records

BUY 140

United Kingdom


Cardiac Arrest, a unique song by Chas Smash and Chris Foreman, weaves a tale of a workaholic’s tragic end, succumbing to a fatal heart attack on his way to work. This compelling narrative, perhaps too intense for the BBC’s comfort, led to its ban and marked a significant shift in Madness’ chart performance. Despite not reaching the UK top 10, it held its ground for 10 weeks, peaking at number 14.

The song’s album version, a testament to Madness‘ artistic depth, concludes abruptly after the second chorus, symbolizing the man’s heart abruptly stopping. In stark contrast, the single version offers a glimmer of hope, replacing the dramatic cut with a repeat of the more optimistic first chorus, gently fading out.

The music video for “Cardiac Arrest” featured Chas Smash as a person having a heart attack and the remaining band members as people advising him not to work so hard. The video follows the single version of the song rather than the album version.

Mike: Cathal wrote the words for ‘Cardiac Arrest’, and we did a heartbeat thing for the intro. They didn’t want to play the song on the radio (allegedly because a BBC DI’s relative had recently had a heart attack). Taking it a bit too personal, no? You’re a DJ, you might find it painful but it’s not fair to then hurt someone else’s work who had nothing to do with it? It even has positive medical advice! I was always proud of the piano solo on

‘Shut Up’. That slamming chord at the beginning was Clive Langer‘s idea. He was a musician himself, of questionable quality (laughs), but he came up with some great little bits. It was supposed to sound like the end of the Beatles’ ‘A Day In The Life’ – we all had to hit a weird chord. That song was about being on the wrong side of the law, which was part of our growing up – we experienced a lot of that stuff.

Chris: ‘Cardiac Arrest was the first song I wrote with Cathal. The band had worked out the music based on a rough idea I’d had and he came up with the lyrics. The title of the song resulted in less airplay on Radio 1. The video was great fun. We were on a real bus driving around and this little old lady got on. So we charged her 75p and put it towards the budget. I wanted it to be like a musical, with all of us as extras on the bus and at a building site, joining in on the chorus. Cathal was fantasic as the businessman on the verge.


Territory: United Kingdom

Release Date: February 12, 1982
Format: 7" Vinyl (45 RPM)
Limited Edition: No

Label: Stiff Records

Catalogue Number: BUY 140

Manufactured: United Kingdom

Disc Colour: Black
Pressing: Original Pressing
Release Type: Official


Peak Position: 14
First Chart Date: 20/02/1982
Weeks in Chart: 10
Position DatePosition
20/02/1982 26
27/02/1982 28
06/03/1982 14
13/03/1982 15
20/03/1982 14
27/03/1982 20
03/04/1982 29
10/04/1982 49
17/04/1982 52
24/04/1982 74



1 A1 Cardiac Arrest 2:50
1 B1 In the City 3:02


Mike Barson Piano, Organ, Tubular Bells Band
Chris Foreman Guitar, Sitar Band
Lee Thompson Tenor Saxophone Band
Mark Bedford Bass Band
Daniel Woodgate Drums Band
Graham McPherson Vocals, Percussion Band
Cathal Smyth Trumpet Band


Producer Clive Langer
Producer Alan Winstanley


Copyright © Stiff Records
Phonographic Copyright ℗ Stiff Records


Record Label Stiff Records
Publisher Nutty Sounds Ltd.
Publisher Warner Chappell Music Ltd.


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