Madness – One Step Beyond…: #957 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Madness - One Step Beyond

Why is Madness’ One Step Beyond… on my best 1,000 albums ever list?

From ska to punk to new wave to pop, all performed with the extreme exuberance and confidence of youth and with tongues firmly planted in cheeks… I guess you can only describe it as Madness.

What does Madness’ One Step Beyond… mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?

Madness walks a tightrope, one in which you sense it could have easily been a laughable train wreck. Except it all (mostly) works, making it all the more impressive.

We could be laughing at these wacky, hooligan-y English blokes from the oddball year of UK ska revival in 1979, but instead we laugh with them. It’s the second wave of ska, bringing in the Caribbean influences of roots reggae and rock steady, but it becomes its own British thing here; again, this could have gone all kinds of badly but instead it works.

And then factor in other influences ranging from punk to new wave to pop, all performed with the extreme exuberance and confidence of youth and with tongues firmly planted in cheeks…

And I guess you can only describe it as Madness.

Speaking of, you have to nearly be in awe of a band that names a song that’s the same name as their band, and then within that song they explain exactly what the song title and the band title mean:

Madness, madness, they call it madness
Madness, madness, they call it madness
It’s plain to see, that is what they mean to me
Madness, madness I call it gladness

While the mostly instrumental songs “One Step Beyond” and “Night Boat to Cairo” are the best known songs on the album – at least in the U.S. – “In the Middle of the Night” might be my favorite track as it best meshes all of the influences I mention above.

On the new wave-y side, I really enjoy the keyboard-driven “Best & Breakfast Man.”

I also defy you to watch that video without keeping an entirely straight face. It’s great stuff. You can also see how bands who came later, and I’m particularly thinking of The Mighty Mighty BossTones here, watched this video and were like, “Yeah, we’ve got to get in on that.”

Finally, it also piques my interest when a band throws in bizarro song titles such as “Chipmunks Are Go!” (an oddball military chant of sorts that clocks in at less than a minute) and “Tarzan’s Nuts.”

This album also sounds like

The closest comparison is to The Specials’ self-titled album, which also was released in 1979 and (spoiler) is truly incredible.

Personal stuff that’s somehow related to Madness’ One Step Beyond…

I’m always delighted when I’m in a city that has a bunch of music venues in close proximity, and particularly so when you can easily walk between them to check out what’s doing. I thought that Bleeker Street and thereabouts in Manhattan’s West Village held the championship belt as far as this went, until I visited Austin, Texas and discovered its dynamite 6th Street. And, I must mention, Austin as a whole is an incredible music city.

I mention this because one time when I was in the fair city – many years ago in the Before Times – I stumbled across a venue and heard some great and chill ska music being played live. This had to be checked out, of course, and it turned out to be a band called Mobtown. Here’s a song of theirs called “Rhythm of Ska.”

Great stuff.

Some stats & info about Madness – One Step Beyond…

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Ska, New Wave, British Bands, Rock Music, Punk Rock, Ska Punk, Pub Rock
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating4.5 out of 5 stars
  • When was One Step Beyond… released? 1979
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #957 out of 1,000

Madness’ One Step Beyond… on Spotify

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.