I first saw Madness
on 'Top of the Pops' in 1979. In that era when Radio One cultivated an atmosphere of gang-show goonery disseminated by broadcasting behemoths like Dave Lee Travis, it seemed as though BBC television's music programming flagship had fallen on the band as one of its own. With its hyperactive budget video, One Step Beyond
didn't distinguish the self-styled Nutty Boys from the buffoonery of fellow ska shouters Bad Manners
. Rather, it put them in the company of other guileless good-timers who were riding the protesting ska wave that had been stirred by Specials
in those early days of monetarism.
I didn't like what I heard of One Step Beyond
that night. To my eight year-old ears, an instrumental, however wild, was not very appealing and Chas Smash
's intermittent if insistent shout of the song title was a pretty slight hook for a young person to grab hold of.
No, it was Baggy Trousers
that turned me into an avid fan. …