"Drip Fed Fred" is the third single from Madness' 20th anniversary reunion album, Wonderful. As charming and catchy as it is, it's hardly surprising that the single failed to dent the British pop charts. What is more surprising is that Virgin released it in the first place. Perhaps they thought that the guest performance by British punk legend Ian Dury (who passed away only months after the release of the song) would be enough to draw attention to a quirky ska tune about an ailing underworld leader. But the song is more in the tradition of wacky Madness album tracks and B-sides like "Waltz Into Mischief," "Mr. Speaker Gets the Word," and "One Second's Thoughtlessness" than any of the band's hits (with the possible exception of "Shut Up"). "Drip Fed Fred" is easily recognizable as the brainchild of keyboardist Mike Barson, who gets some lovely piano riffs, and sax man Lee Thompson, who joins Dury and lead singer Suggs as a primary vocalist. Thompson's extroverted Cockney wit is a good match for Barson's rollicking tunefulness, and the song is improved slightly by the remix featured on the "The Conspiracy Mix" version of "Drip Fed Fred," which trims 20 seconds and adds a slick synthesized rhythm that gives the song a little more edge. Of the two editions of the single, this is by far the less appealing. Both editions include the unremarkable album cut "Elysium," but the third track here is "We Want Freddie," a sloppy and aimless reimagining of "Drip Fed Fred" that will be of interest only to the most devoted Madness collectors.
Share this page