As The Specials conjured their potent mix of ska and punk in Coventry, Madness were discovering the joys of tinkering with Jamaica’s original sounds down in the capital’s Camden and Kentish Town. They didn’t have the political edge or lyrical social dimension that Dammers and co had (though it did come later), but they shared a hero in Prince Buster; their name and first single, The Prince, released on The Specials’ 2-Tone label, paid tribute to the great man.
By the time it came to record their premier long-player, One Step Beyond, the seven-piece had signed to Stiff. The resulting album crossed generational barriers and sailed to No 2 – and no wonder. The songs were great and anyone who’s seen the band live recently will know that tracks such as the title cut, Night Boat To Cairo, My Girl and the hugely underrated Bed & Breakfast Man sound as exuberant and fun as they did the day they were made. As do the array of bonus goodies: Deceives The Eye from 1980’s Work, Rest & Play EP (here in its entirety) exemplifies their cheek and pluck; their John Peel session and tracks from Dance Craze show that they could cut it live.