A beautiful album by the best reggae and dub collective that ever existed.
This was the third album the Steppers cut for Adrian Sherwood's On-U Sounds label. All of their material is wonderful, but I think this one is my definite favourite.
Back in 1983, when this album was recorded, Sherwood's label was a big hit with those amongst the underground and alternative scene. With a roster of some of the greatest reggae and dance acts around, Sherwood released not only the New Age Steppers, whose first album was the first On-U Sound's release, but Lee Perry, Tackhead, Mark Stewart, Dub Syndicate, Asian Dub Foundation, African Head Charge and others.
The label was instrumental in creating a new wave of interest and a new wave of sound in roots and dub music.
Sherwood had magic ears and magic fingers; and he also had an uncanny knack for juxtaposing perfectly the right voice with the right musicians.
This album has two excellent examples of Sherwood's magical harmonious concoctions, as he brings in for vocal roles the wonderfully charismatic Ari Up (John Lydon's step daughter and ex-Slit) and the angelically voiced Bim Sherman.
Ari makes the two real stand-out tracks on the album: 'Some Love' - "It really gets you down, down, down" - a fantastic opener that really sets the mood - yeah, kick the furniture (and the dog) out of the way, crank up the bass and start skanking, basically.
Her second song is the best reggae cover you'll ever hear, as the Steppers get down and knock out an amazing version of the 1930's classic 'Stormy Weather'.
You'll be singing it forever. "Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky...".
The late Bim Sherman joined the Steppers for four tracks on this album, and they're all gorgeous.
But his voice on 'Dreamers' is just incredible, proving that his loss in 2000 was a massive one to reggae and roots music; he undoubtedly had one of the greatest and most original voices in the genre.
The other tracks on here are all dub numbers, and its in these instrumentals that the brilliance of the Steppers' musicianship really shines.
The horns on this album are superbly mixed and blended - and you can't often say that about horns - reminiscent of one of the Steppers' contemporaries, another great band from the time, and possibly the greatest live reggae band ever: the majestic Misty in Roots.
The dub on this album is not as outlandish or as freaky as it was on their previous recording, Action Battlefield, but the more reserved nature of these tracks makes for an easier listen (some of the Steppers' dub can be downright scary), and makes them a darn sight easier to dance to.
And you will. Even the true anarchists amongst you - coz anarchists don't dance, right - but you will. You will.
New Age Steppers here are:
drums: Style Scott
percussion: Bonjo I
electric percussion: Eskimo
lead vocals: Ari Up; Bim Sherman
harmony vocals: Ginger; Bim; Ari; Eskimo; Joseph; sis Judah
bass: Crucial Tony; Errol Flabba Holt; George Oban
lead guitar: Dwight; Crucial Tony; Derek
rhythm guitar: Crucial Tony; Bingy Bunny
piano: Bubblers; Steely
organ: Bubblers; Kishi; Nick Plytas; Doctor Pablo
horns: Vin Gordon; Bammy
Chinese lute: Kishi
New Age Steppers - Foundation Steppers (1983)
5 Dog Race
Vice of my Enemies
This is an immaculate vinyl rip @256kbs.
Put on your dancing boots and start skanking here