Hey you! Don’t read that, read this! This is the heavy heavy monster read! The nuttiest read around!
One! Step! Beyoooooond!
One Step Beyond is a skankin’ slice of primo Jamaican ska written by Prince Buster. It first appeared on the b-side of his single Al Capone, itself the blueprint for The Specials Gangsters.
One Step Beyond – Prince Buster
It’s largely instrumental, a rasping saxophone-led knees-up, occasionally punctuated by some frantic chickaboom-chickaboom-chickaboom-chickaboom-chick ska-tting and Prince Buster’s titular cry.
But you knew all that already. Thanks to Madness, you’ll be more than familiar with the tune. If you’re of a similar age to myself, you’ll be well aware of how important the tune was to your formative years. It was one of the first tracks I heard that made me appreciate the power of music. It was loud, catchy and novel enough to grab the ears of young listeners everywhere. We didn’t know it wasn’t an original, we just loved doing the primary 7 approximation of the nutty dance to One Step Beyond by Madness.
Madness owe a lot to Prince Buster. After a brief flirtation as The North London Invaders, they named themselves after one of his tracks, which they themselves covered on the b-side of their first single, a single they called ‘The Prince‘.
Prince Buster - Madness
To further cement the Prince Buster connection, Chas Smash’s opening vocal earthquake on One Step Beyond is hotwired and paraphrased directly from another Prince Buster track, The Scorcher.
Prince Buster – The Scorcher
The Madness take on One Step Beyond is practically a photocopy of Prince Buster’s version (why would you try and improve perfection?) but if you listen closely, really closely, you’ll maybe catch the incessant thuggish background chant of “Here We Go! Here We Go!” that plays throughout most of the track.
The released Madness version was actually a demo that originally lasted all of 70 seconds. Madness knob twiddlers of choice Langer and Winstanley looped the original track to double the length, but before they were able to mix it properly, the track had been sent off to the pressing plant and was skanking its way up the charts by the time anyone else had noticed.
Realising they had a multi-national hit on their hands, the people in charge of such things thought it’d be a good idea to have Madness release language-specific versions for various territories.
Hence the Spanish version, Un Paso Adelante
..and the Italian version, Un Passo Avanti
What a great idea! I love these versions!
Prince Buster – Al Capone
The Specials – Gangsters