The Story of... 'It Must Be Love' by Madness

27 December 2022, 16:35

Madness - It Must Be Love
Madness - It Must Be Love. Picture: Madness/Stiff

By Tom Eames

'It Must Be Love' was the song that proved that Madness weren't one trick ponies. Not only could they make fun ska anthems, but they could also record heartfelt love songs when they wanted to.

One of the Nutty Boys' greatest songs, here is the story behind the 1981 ballad.

  1. Who wrote 'It Must Be Love'?

    The song was originally by soul singer Labi Siffre, and it was a brilliant song in its own right.

    It was recorded for his 1971 album Crying Laughing Loving Lying, and reached number 14 in the UK singles chart.

    This version was used in 1994 advert for Midland Bank, and again in 2007 for Vodafone.

  2. When did Madness record it?

    Madness in 1981
    Madness in 1981. Picture: Getty

    Madness recorded a cover version, and was originally released as a standalone single in late 1981.

    The backing track was recorded in nine hours in a front room studio in a house in Dagenham, Essex.

    Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley produced the song. Langer later told Blogcritics Magazine: "We had the strings play pizzicato: 'plink, plink, plink,' which at that time required real musicians. It was quite an experiment and you took a lot of responsibility because you had to pay the bill. Now you can just use a sample."

    Winstanley added: "A few years later Trevor Horn told me that he nicked the pizzicato strings idea from us for the first ABC record - that was quite flattering really."

  3. What happens in the music video?

    The song's video shows Madness playing in a white room, and standing over a grave.

    It also features guitarist Chris Foreman and saxophonist Lee Thompson playing their instruments underwater, as you do.

    Foreman appears at the start of the video warning viewers not to attempt the "very dangerous stunt".

    In a lovely move, Labi Siffre makes a cameo appearance as a violin player.

  4. How did it perform in the charts?

    Upon release in 1981, the song reached number 4 in the UK.

    It was re-released in 1994, and this time it reached number 6.

    Singer Suggs also appeared in the 1989 film The Tall Guy - starring Jeff Goldblum, Emma Thompson and Rowan Atkinson - singing the song.