Friday, 19 May 2017

"One Step Beyond... - 35th Anniversary Edition" by MADNESS (October 2014 Salvo '35th Anniversary Edition' CD+DVD Reissue and Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...The Heavy, Heavy Monster Sound..."

Ah the 'heavy heavy monster sound'. There are some LPs that make you grin from ear-to-ear just looking at them - "The Undertones" debut on Sire - "The Specials" on 2-Tone and that other sweaty beauty from 1979 - "One Step Beyond" by London's Madness on Stiff Records.

But what CD variant of their debut do you buy? Virgin have had two - a 1989 basic issue and a Remaster in 2000 - while Union Square stumped up a '30th Anniversary Edition' in 2009 that received mixed reviews. I'm going to argue that this 2014 '35th Anniversary Edition' on Salvo's Sound and Vision is the four-star one to get (some poorly recorded cassette tape rehearsals masquerading as Bonus Material on Disc one lose it a star).

You get new Remasters from the original quarter-inch tapes of the 15-track album as well as a further 14 Previously Unreleased Demo and Rehearsal Versions on Disc 1 (29 tracks in all) with 10 Videos over on Disc 2 - the non region-coded DVD. To compliment these is an upgraded digipak and booklet featuring new interviews with the men who were there - original Producer and Engineer Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. Overall it's impressively presented and exudes that sense of fun the band had. Here come the Night Boats To Cairo...

UK released 13 October 2014 - "One Step Beyond..." by MADNESS on Salvo SALVOSVX034 (Barcode 698458063427) is a '35th Anniversary Edition' CD + DVD Reissue and Remaster with Previously Unreleased material that plays out as follows:

CD (78:53 minutes):
Original Album
1. One Step Beyond... [Side 1]
2. My Girl
3. Night Boat To Cairo
4. Believe Me
5. Land Of Hope & Glory
6. The Prince
7. Tarzan's Nuts
8. In The Middle Of The Night [Side 2]
9. Bed And Breakfast Man
10. Razor Blade Alley
11. Swan Lake
12. Rockin' In A Flat
13. Mummy's Boy
14. Madness
15. Chipmunks Are Go!
Tracks 1 to 15 are their debut album "One Step Beyond..." - released October 1979 in the UK on Stiff Records SEEZ 17

Fab Toones! Rehearsal Tape, 1979
16. Nutty Sounds
17. Mistakes
18. Sunshine Voice
19. My Girl
20. Memories
21. Believe Me
22. Lost My Head
23. Razor Blade Alley
24. Land Of Hope & Glory
25. Mummy's Boy
26. In The Middle Of The Night
27. You Said
28. Stepping into Line
29. Bed And Breakfast Man
Tracks 16 to 29 recorded on a portable cassette recorder so sound quality varies.

DVD – NTSC, Region 0 (No Coding), Aspect Ratio 4:3 PAL, English
1. One Step Beyond... (Video)
2. Bed And Breakfast Man (Video)
3. My Girl (Video)
4. Night Boat To Cairo (Video)
5. One Step Beyond... ('Top Of The Pops' appearance 1979)
6. The Prince ('Top Of The Pops' appearance 1979)
7. My Girl ('Top Of The Pops' appearance 1980)
8. Bed And Breakfast Man ('Old Grey Whistle Test' appearance, 1979)
9. Night Boat To Cairo ('Old Grey Whistle Test' appearance, 1979)
10. "Young Guns" Documentary (BBC, 2000)
Tracks 5 to 10 are all BBC Recordings

SUGGS (Graham McPherson) - Lead Vocals
LEE 'Kix' THOMPSON - Lead Vocals, Tenor and Baritone Saxophones
MIKE BARSON (Monsieur Barso) - Keyboards
CHRIS FOREMAN (Chrissy Boy) - Guitars
MARK BEDFORD (Bedders) - Bass
WOODY 'Woods' WOODGATE (Don Woodgate) - Drums and Percussion
CHAS SMASH (Cathal Smyth) - Backing Vocals etc

The card digipak folds out into three flaps with both the CD and DVD see-through trays having that famous cover photo of the six dancing underneath each disc. Both sides of the inner sleeve that came with original British LPs is spread across two of the flaps - that collage of black and white Polaroids - the band - fans and friends - it's all here. The 16-page booklet is a cleverly laid out and pleasingly in-depth affair. Around the text we get all that black and white Madness/Stiff memorabilia that surrounded the band - buttons, shaped discs, picture sleeves, tour passes, 2-tone label bags, a Madness watch with the cover as a face dial, cassette tapes, different variant label repros of the LP and a very fetching Japanese 7" single picture sleeve of "One Step Beyond" with a different B-side to the British issue - "Tarzan's Nuts" (the UK copy has "Mistakes" - included here in Rehearsal form on Disc 1).

There are new May 2014 liner notes from music-lover and author STEVE CHICK that include reminiscences from Chrissy Boy (the Bass player) and Producer Clive Langer and Engineer Alan Winstanley. Clive tells of the band working all hours to get the album done - Lee Thompson a semitone out of tune but because his playing had great feel - they left it as is - and of course became part of their homemade rough 'n' tumble Carry On Up The Khyber sound. Although the sticker on the shrinkwrap assures us that a new remaster appears here - neither the digipak nor booklet confirm this. Yet to my ears the core album sounds brighter and more alive than it did on the 30th Anniversary issue I had. And there is more bottom end too which beefs up the audio without making it into loudness wars. Let's get to the music...

"...Hey You! Don't Watch That! Watch This! 
Move Your Feet To The Rockinest Sound Around!" 

How many of us have bopped to the brilliant opening declaration that is "One Step Beyond..." - quietly tearing up a dancefloor somewhere as worried older types looked on in muted suburban disapproval. They follow that corker of an opener with more wit - "...My girl's mad at me...she takes it all the wrong way..." - we sang along to "My Girl" - giggling like loons as we did the Monster Mash with our 2-tone badges and pencil ties. My memories of "Night Boat To Cairo" is a heaving dancefloor with half cut students, afterhours office types and leather-bound rockers all letting loose – abandoning the buffet and bar for the Saxophone joy of Madness Ska. Both the loafer on the sofa "Bed And Breakfast Man" and the school to your home danger of "Razor Blade Alley" all speak of social realities in 1979 – ordinary people trying to make it through life on the estate. The piano-instrumental Swan Lake cover lifts the spirit and is a hoot - but much better is the cup of tea and geezers bop of "Rocking In A Flat". Then it all ends on the Prince Buster cover of "Madness" that started it all when it was released as the B-side to their own composition "The Prince" - their debut UK 45 in August 1979 on 2-Tone – 60ts Ska alive and well in Putney and Camden Town.

It has to be said that the new unreleased "Fab Toones!" rehearsal material is very lo-fi and reflects a hissy cassette tape source (they clearly state on the packaging that the sound isn't state-of-the-art) – but once you get used to the less than stellar Audio then things like "Mistakes" and "Sunshine Voice" have a certain charm. But in truth I'm not sure how many will want to return to these no matter how much of a fan they are. The DVD disc is a far better value item and captures the sheer fun and street-savvy wit of this band in a way that the weedy cassette can't.

There is something wonderfully British-nutjob about Madness that has engendered them into the hearts of the music buying public - giving them a 40-year career that proves they are way more than a novelty act being fondly remembered here. Like The Undertones and The Clash and The Stranglers – their music grew and the singles only got better and better.

O.K. – those demos slightly let the side down for sure but the Remaster and the DVD more than make up for those shortcomings. 1979's "One Step Beyond..." is where it all started for MADNESS and I remember the album (as do so many others) with genuine tearful affection and this reissue (35 years on) has only brought that rock-steady beat back home again.

My girl's mad at me. No she's not Suggs...

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