Charles Stepney

Step On Step

International Anthem • 2022

Dying of a heart attack at the age of 45 is not particularly common, but it does happen to some people.  Producer Charles Stepney was thus plucked from his life in 1976, just as he was producing Earth, Wind & Fire’s album »Spirit«.  It was the third album he had recorded with the funkiest funk band in the world at the time, having previously worked with musicians like Muddy Waters, Minnie Ripperton and Terry Callier.  Orchestral sounds were by no means taboo for him either, making the music on »Step on Step«, the multi-instrumentalist’s posthumous solo début album, all the more astonishing.  The recordings that Charles Stepney made all by himself in his studio in the cellar of his home from the late sixties to the seventies are reduced to the bare essentials compared to his studio productions. Many originals from Stepney’s pen, sketches for songs, that can be heard in the basic structure. Most of the material then remained at this stage. Some Earth, Wind & Fire numbers are also included and heard in their instrumental, early stages of development like »That’s the Way of the World« and »Imagination«. One of Stepney’s classics, which he recorded with his band Rotary Connection, »I Am the Black Gold of the Sun«, can also be witnessed in the making; the title here is just »Black Gold«.  These groove concentrates were eventually published by his daughters Eibur, Charlene and Chanté Stepney. They can even be heard from time to time, along with memories of their father or a short exchange on the question of how to pronounce the synthesiser brand Moog correctly.  Probably intended mainly for the professional nerd, but also interesting for anyone else who likes R&B.