“One Step Beyond” is a tune written by Jamaican ska singer Prince Buster as a B-side for his single “Al Capone”. It was made famous by British band Madness who covered it for their debut 1979 album, One Step Beyond…, also named after the song. Although Buster’s version was mostly instrumental except for the song title shouted for a few times, the Madness version features a spoken intro by Chas Smash and a barely audible but insistent background chant of “here we go!”. The spoken line meat tenderizor, “Don’t watch that, watch this”, in the intro is from another Prince Buster song, “The Scorcher”. Also, that line became a trademark during the early promos of MTV, where the video was in heavy rotation.
According to Alan Winstanley, one of the producers, the released Madness version was a rough mix, created by taking the original 1 minute 10 second instrumental and repeating it, with the second half treated with an Eventide harmonizer to make it sound slightly different. Langer and Winstanley intended to do a full remix but found that the double-length rough mix had already been sent for mastering before they got the opportunity.
The song is often used to begin live performances by the band.
The single produced the band’s first music video, directed by Chuck Statler. The video mainly features a performance on the Hope and Anchor stage in Islington, which was filmed on 7 October 1979. The video also features Chas Smash, performing the lead vocals, although he was not at the time a member of the band. Lead singer Suggs is present in the video in front of the band, holding a microphone, although he does not sing the lead vocals georgia football uniforms.
The cover art for the single is from a photoshoot by Cameron McVey. It is similar to the photograph used on the album cover art, but features the band in a slightly different pose kids basketball uniforms. The Spanish release of the song also featured slightly different cover art, although the photograph used was from the same photoshoot. Even though the lyrics are performed by Chas Smash, he does not feature on the photograph, because he was not a full member of the band at the time. However, he is shown on the back cover of the album in various dancing poses. The Italian version features a two-tone drawing of the pose containing only four dancers.
The album version of the song features the full spoken introduction by Chas Smash. However, this was cut short for the single release. When the song is performed live, Smash regularly ad libs during the instrumental portions of the song.
To capitalise on the success of the song, Madness also recorded the song in different languages. The song was recorded in Spanish as “Un Paso Adelante” and in Italian as “Un Passo Avanti”. Chas Smash recorded the vocals for the Spanish version on 30 June 1980 at Eden Studios. The band decided to record the song because many popular English songs at the time were being covered by Spanish artist Luis Cobos, and the band wanted to do it first. The Italian version, “Un Passo Avanti”, was used to open up during the Italian part of their world tour, in October 1980.
An extended version of the song, with a run time of 3:33, is included on the 1997 US compilation Total Madness: The Very Best Of Madness (Geffen GEFD-25145). It includes the full spoken introduction by Chas Smash.
In addition to its single release and appearance on the album of the same name, “One Step Beyond” also appears on the Madness collections Divine Madness (a.k.a. The Heavy Heavy Hits), Complete Madness, It’s… Madness Too, Total Madness, The Business (which also includes the Italian version), Ultimate Collection and The Millennium Collection. The Spanish version appears on the 1992 releases of the “House of Fun” single. It is also used to open concerts live, and has been since the very first Madstock!.
These are the formats and track listings of major single releases of “One Step Beyond”.
The song is sung by Rangers F.C. fans after every goal, particularly by the Ultras known as the ‘Union Bears’. The song has also been adopted as an anthem by Carlisle United Football Club, with a special intro recorded by Chas Smash for the club. The song’s also played at Stamford Bridge as part of Chelsea F.C.’s after-match celebration. Papashanty Saund System, a Venezuelan reggae band uses the song as a base track for their song Wo Noo Nooo in their album Ashanty Granpa (2005) as a homage to Madness.
Thirstin Howl III sampled part of Chas Smash’s opening speech “One Step Beyond” (which is repeated in the chorus), on his track “Watch Deez”, from the album Skilligan’s Island.
Seattle rock/ska band MOON released their version of ‘One Step Beyond’ on their 2010 EP called The Moon EP official team jerseys. One video of their live performance on YouTube is available.
Also covered by Inspector 7. “One Step Beyond” – House of Ska: A Tribute to Madness (Various Artists) (Cleopatra Records, May 18, 2000)