The New Age Steppers have always played a special part in the history of On-U Sound, not only for contributing the label’s first single and album release, but also for the bringing together of a disparate collection of individuals for the sole purpose of making music – a rationale that On-U was to follow for the following two decades.
John Dougan summarises –
“Rallying around the considerable talents of British producer/modern dub mastermind Adrian Sherwood, the New Age Steppers were not so much a band as they were a loosely knit aggregation of musicians from some of Britain’s best avant-garde post-punk/funk bands. There was Ari Up from the Slits, Mark Stewart from the Pop Group, and John Waddington and Bruce Smith from Rip, Rig & Panic,along with the usual gang of suspects employed by Sherwood’s dynamically creative On-U Sound (George Oban, Style Scott, Eskimo Fox). The sound of the New Age Steppers was that of cut-and-paste dub mixing, psychedelic swirls of found sounds, dissonant aural collages, sinewy reggae riddims, and odd, semi-tuneful vocals. Not for the faint of heart, the music created by Sherwood and his Steppers was among the most exhilarating and consistently challenging to come out of Britain during the early post-punk era. It wasn’t always accessible, but it has few peers in terms of ingenuity and daring. Highly recommended to those whose musical tastes occasionally reside on pop’s radical, experimental fringes.”
Alongside the three albums released in their original 1981 – 1983 lifespan, the band also recorded a BBC Radio 1 session for the legendary John Peel, released a dub album in conjunction with labelmates Creation Rebel (Threat To Creation), and in 2012 a final album was released, Love Forever, in tribute to the much-missed talents of frontwoman Ari Up, who passed away far too young from cancer in 2010.