Charles Stepney - Step On Step
$14.00 - $33.00 / On Sale
Limited GOLD 2xLP while they last!
Ship Date: around September 9, 2022
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Chicago-born composer, producer and arranger Charles Stepney is known to some for his work with Earth, Wind & Fire, Deniece Williams, and Ramsey Lewis, or for his work with Chess Records in the 1960s, where he was an essential creative force behind seminal recordings by Rotary Connection, Minnie Riperton, Marlena Shaw, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Terry Callier, The Dells, The Emotions, and many many more. In the decades since his untimely death in 1976, the presence of his name in liner notes and on vinyl labels has become a seal of quality for record collectors, music historians, and aficionados, while his sound has been used by countless samplers in the hip-hop world including Kanye West, A Tribe Called Quest, The Fugees, MF Doom, and Madlib. But in comparison to the post-mortem renown of his sound, or the music he created and the artists he supported while he was alive, Stepney is a greatly under-appreciated figure… a genius relegated to the shadows.
Step on Step – which comes almost 50 years after Stepney departed this earth – is the enigmatic producer's eponymous debut album and arguably the first time his abundant, inherent brilliance is pulled completely out of the shadows into unobstructed light. It's an album full of creative compositional seedlings, written, performed, and recorded by Stepney, alone in the basement of his home on the Southside of Chicago, between the late 1960s and early 1970s, using just primitive drum machines, early-gen Moog synthesizers, pianos, vibraphones, and a few other instrumental accessories. Considering he's an artist who's modest renown has been focused on his epic symphonic arrangements, for making avant-pop music incorporating the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and for his psychedelic "orchestral soul" sound – it's especially notable that this album is an unprecedented look at Stepney engaged in the simplest, most genuine and bare bones process of creating music.
The master tape source material for Step on Step was curated and compiled by Stepney's daughters Eibur, Charlene, and Chanté over several decades, who've cherished the tapes as family jewels for decades since their father's death. The Stepney Sisters worked alongside International Anthem between 2019-2021 to fully restore, edit, sequence, and master the music into a narrative collection of eye-opening sounds and beautiful sentimental moments. Contained within are 16 original compositions by Stepney that were never recorded by another artist, and never released in any form; and the collection is punctuated by chilling original demo versions of Stepney compositions that would eventually become big hits, such as "That's the Way of The World" (made famous by Earth, Wind & Fire) and "Black Gold" (made famous by Rotary Connection).