This song tell the story of a workaholic who follows the same routine every day, getting on the bus and going into the office. He's always stressed out and in a hurry, then one day on his way to work he has a heart attack and dies.
In the song, the chorus is the voice of his observers on the bus, telling him to slow down and loosen up. When he dies, they end the song by essentially saying, "We warned you."
"Cardiac Arrest" has music by Madness guitarist Chris Foreman and a lyric by Chas Smash, who played trumpet in the group and also served as dancer, idea man, and comic relief. He wasn't on the cover of their first album, One Step Beyond..., but by their third album, 7, he was a key member of the group. This song was his first writing credit with the band.
Madness were from working-class backgrounds and often wrote humorous songs about the travails of everyday life. This one takes a dark turn though, which ruffled the feathers of some listeners who felt it was insensitive. Chas Smash didn't buy it - he explained that the song makes a salient point, and the reason he wrote it was because his father had a heart attack.
The video is typical Madness nuttiness, with Chas Smash playing the ill-fated worker as vocalist Suggs sings and sax player Lee Thompson plays the conductor. Most of it takes place on a London bus.
This came in midst of an impressive run of UK hits for Madness. It reached #14, ending a streak of nine consecutive Top 10 hits. Their next single, "House Of Fun
," went to #1.