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Steel Pulse

Steel Pulse were one of Britain's greatest reggae bands, rivaled only by Aswad in terms of creative and commercial success. Generally a protest-minded Rastafarian outfit, Steel Pulse started out playing authentic roots reggae with touches of jazz and Latin music, and earned a substantial audience among white U.K. punks as well. Their 1978 debut, Handsworth Revolution, is still regarded by many critics as a landmark and a high point of British reggae. As the '80s wore on, slick synthesizers and elements of dance and urban R&B gradually crept into their sound, even as their subject matter stayed on the militant side. By the late '80s, Steel Pulse had won a Grammy and were working full-fledged crossover territory, but never reached the same degree of commercial acceptance as Aswad or Inner Circle. They subsequently returned to a tough-minded, rootsy sound that nonetheless made concessions to contemporary trends with touches of dancehall and hip-hop.

Steel Pulse were formed in 1975 in Birmingham, England, specifically the ghetto area of Handsworth. The founding members were schoolmates David Hinds (the primary songwriter as well as the lead singer and guitarist), Basil Gabbidon (guitar), and Ronnie "Stepper" McQueen (bass). All of them came from poor West Indian immigrant families, and none had much musical experience. They took some time to improve their technical proficiency, often on Rasta-slanted material by Bob Marley and Burning Spear. McQueen suggested the group name, after a racehorse, and they soon fleshed out the lineup with drummer Steve "Grizzly" Nisbett, keyboardist/vocalist Selwyn "Bumbo" Brown, percussionist/vocalist Alphonso "Fonso" Martin, and vocalist Michael Riley.

Steel Pulse initially had difficulty finding live gigs, as club owners were reluctant to give them a platform for their "subversive" Rastafarian politics. Luckily, the punk movement was opening up new avenues for music all over Britain, and also finding a spiritual kinship with protest reggae. Thus, the group wound up as an opening act for punk and new wave bands like the Clash, the Stranglers, Generation X, the Police, and XTC, and built a broad-based audience in the process. In keeping with the spirit of the times, Steel Pulse developed a theatrical stage show that leavened their social commentary with satirical humor; many of the members dressed in costumes that mocked traditional British archetypes (Riley was a vicar, McQueen a bowler-wearing aristocrat, Martin a coach footman, etc.). The band issued two singles -- "Kibudu, Mansetta and Abuku" and "Nyah Love" -- on small independent labels, then came to the attention of Island Records after opening for Burning Spear.

Steel Pulse's first single for Island was the classic "Ku Klux Klan," which happened to lend itself well to the band's highly visual, costume-heavy concerts. It appeared on their 1978 debut album, Handsworth Revolution, which was soon hailed as a classic of British reggae by many fans and critics, thanks to songs like the title track, "Macka Splaff," "Prodigal Son," and "Soldiers." Riley departed before the follow-up, 1979's Tribute to the Martyrs, which featured other key early singles in "Sound System" and "Babylon Makes the Rules," and solidified the band's reputation for uncompromising political ferocity. That reputation went out the window on 1980's Caught You, a more pop-oriented set devoted to dance tracks and lovers rock. By that point, Steel Pulse were keen on trying to crack the American market, and went on tour over Island's objections. Caught You was issued in the States as Reggae Fever, but failed to break the group, and they soon parted ways with Island.

Steel Pulse moved on to Elektra/Asylum, which released an LP version of their headlining set at the 1981 Reggae Sunsplash Festival. Their studio debut was 1982's True Democracy, a generally acclaimed set that balanced bright, accessible production with a return to social consciousness. It became their first charting LP in America, making both the pop and R&B listings. The slicker follow-up, Earth Crisis, was released in 1984 and featured producer Jimmy "Senyah" Haynes subbing on guitar and bass for founding members Gabbidon and McQueen, both of whom were gone by the end of the recording sessions. They were replaced by guitarist Carlton Bryan and bassist Alvin Ewen for 1986's Babylon the Bandit, another Haynes-produced effort that ranked as the group's most polished, synth-centered record to date. Although it featured the powerful "Not King James Version" and won a Grammy for Best Reggae Album, it sold poorly and alienated some of the band's older fans; as a result, Elektra soon dropped them.

Steel Pulse resurfaced on MCA in 1988 with State of Emergency, their most explicitly crossover-oriented album yet. They also contributed the track "Can't Stand It" to the soundtrack of Spike Lee's classic Do the Right Thing. In 1991, they released another heavily commercial album, the Grammy-nominated Victims, which featured the single "Taxi Driver." Backing up the song's views, Steel Pulse filed a class-action lawsuit against the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, charging that drivers discriminated against blacks and particularly Rastafarians. Founding member Fonso Martin left that year, reducing Steel Pulse to a core trio of Hinds, Nisbett, and Brown. Their backing band still featured Ewen and was elsewhere anchored by guitarist Clifford "Moonie" Pusey, keyboardist Sidney Mills, and drummer/percussionist Conrad Kelly.

The 1992 live album Rastafari Centennial marked the beginning of a return to the group's musical roots, and earned another Grammy nomination. The following year, they performed at Bill Clinton's inaugural celebration, the first reggae band to appear at such an event. 1994's studio album Vex completed Steel Pulse's re-embrace of classic roots reggae, though it also nodded to contemporary dancehall with several guest toasters and a digital-flavored production. 1997's Rage and Fury continued in a similar vein, and was nominated for a Grammy. In 1999, the group released another collection of live performances, Living Legacy. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Rastanthology II: The Sequel

1. Make Us Nation

2. Blazing Fire

3. Black Enough

4. In A Me Life

5. Global Warning

6. Blues Dance Raid

7. Find It Quick

8. Brown Eyed Girl

9. Dem A Wolf

10. No More Weapons

11. Steppin' Out

12. Settle The Score

13. Leggo Beast

14. The Real Terrorist

15. Whirlwind Romance

16. Wild Goose Chase

x

Track List: African Holocaust

1. Global Warning

2. Blazing Fire

3. There Must Be A Way

4. Make Us A Nation

5. Dem A Wolf

6. No More Weapons

7. Tyrant

8. Door Of No Return

9. Born Fe Rebel

10. Darker Than Blue

11. George Jackson

12. African Holocaust

13. Uncle George

x

Track List: Steel Pulse: The Ultimate Collection

1. Handsworth Revolution

2. Ku Klux Klan

3. Prediction

4. Revolution Dub (Take 1)

5. Prodigal Son

6. Tribute To The Martyrs

7. Babylon Makes The Rules

8. Sound System

9. Uncle George

10. Burning Flame

11. Caught You Dancing

12. Not King James Version

14. Settle The Score

15. Back To My Roots/Dub To My Roots

16. Evermore

x

Track List: Living Legacy

2. Bodyguard

3. Islands Unite

4. Sound System

5. Reggae Fever

7. Prodigal Son

8. Ku Klux Klan

9. Black Enough

10. In A Me Life

11. Back To My Roots

12. Bootstraps

x

Track List: Smash Hits

1. Ravers

3. Chant Psalm

4. Steppin' Out

5. Your House

6. Not King James Version

9. Earth Crisis

10. Blues Dance Raid

11. Save Black Music

12. Bodyguard

13. Leggo Beast

14. Babylon The Bandit

x

Track List: Victims

1. Taxi Driver

2. Can't Get You (Out Of My System)

3. Soul Of My Soul

4. Grab A Girlfriend

5. Feel The Passion

6. Money

7. Victims

8. Gang Warfare

9. To Tutu

10. Free The Land

11. We Can Do It

12. Stay With The Rhythm

13. Evermore

14. Dudes

15. Taxi (Dub)

16. We Can Do It (A Capella)

x

Track List: Earth Crisis

1. Steppin' Out

2. Tightrope

3. Throne Of Gold

4. Roller Skates

5. Earth Crisis

6. Bodyguard

7. Grab Education

8. Wild Goose Chase (Live)

9. Steppin' Out (Dub Version)

10. Steppin' Out (Extended Version)

11. Roller Skates (Remix Version)

12. Roller Skates (Dub Version)

x

Track List: True Democracy

1. Chant A Psalm

2. Ravers

4. A Who Responsible?

5. Worth His Weight In Gold (Rally Round)

6. Leggo Beast

7. Blues Dance Raid

8. Your House

9. Man No Sober

10. Dub' Marcus Say

x

Track List: Hansworth Revolution

1. Handsworth Revolution

2. Bad Man

3. Soldiers

5. Prodigal Son

6. Ku Klux Klan

7. Prediction

8. Macka Splaff

x

Track List: Heart Of Stone (Chant Them) (Single)

5. Heart Of Stone (Chant Them)

x

Track List: Rage And Fury

1. Emotional Prisoner

2. Role Model

3. I-Spy (No Stranger To Danger)

4. Brown Eyed Girl

5. The Real Terrorist

6. Black And Proud

7. Ku Klux Klan

8. House Of Love

9. Blame On Me

10. Black Enough?

11. Peace Party

12. Spiritualize It

13. KKK In The Jungle

Comments

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If you have to ask questions, you are missing it! RASTAFARI.
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Doesn't equality stand for all? ������
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roger.taylor 1 9 5 3
Steel Pulse has pokey hair
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https://soun d c l o u d . c o m / a _ g o o d _ m o v e m e n t
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Best Reggae Band Ever!
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love steel pulse!
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PEACE FRENCHY

GREAT band, bad tune. Groovy bass rhythm etcetera.
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Groooovy maaaann!!! Four twenty all day!!!
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My favorite band in the world greatest every jah Bless them
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Too much
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pamaliananio k e k a i
I meant paradise
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pamaliananio k e k a i
Just so in love with your sexy voice can listen to you all day all night from your Maui girl in parishes
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Grew up listening to this group, luv them
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Irie, positive show they bring.
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THANKSGIVING IS ON THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2015. �� ☂♨

• The expression of gratitude, especially to God.
He offered prayers in thanksgiving for his safe arrival

• (in North America) an annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal including turkey. The holiday commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621, and is held in the US on the fourth Thursday in November. A similar holiday is in Canada, usually on the second Monday in October.
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Consistent excellence!
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❤️❤️❤️
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Eric loves this music,easy rasta and great to ska to. I don't get baked anymore but I still love to dance hard.
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so many good feels with this song. makes such good connection with me. love it!
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Whoever doesn't love this band hasn't got any pulse!!!!
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One of the best Reggae band ever & the best out of the UK…I have been listening to the Pulse since the late 1970's & will keep listening 4ever
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Anyway it was there 40th anniversary tour..!!!! Are you kidding me 40 freaking years, that's what makes bands great. They put on a great show. David Hinds voice is amazing. I'm a fan 4ever......
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My first reggae show last Aug, the 40th
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Music is reality " Each song talks about what goes on in the world . Every song they sing is just fu#* $ • SICK GIVE THANKS STEEL PULSE . LIKE WE SAY IN HAWAII 808 ( mahaoz my braddahz" cheehoooo
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I so Love Steel Pulse ...
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I love this band.
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Good Talent
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Have been following these guys since 82.. Just saw them in Ptld ME two weeks ago... STILL tearin it up - sooo great!
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We are The Raggae Rebelutionar i e s . Rebelutionar i e s movement. Positive Vibrations.
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I am really enjoying this song.
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Roller Skates: Great song. Great music.
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Stony roots yessai
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alimoe2004
Life without music... you know!
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peteravila19 7 9
Blaze itt5rrrrrttr t r r r r r t t t t t t t t t t r t r t t r r r r r r r r r t r r t t t t t t t r r r t r t t r
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Ohhhh! In my kitchen dancing! Ohhhh yeahhhh! I interviewed David once back in my country. Seemed like a a cool guy. Love love love their music!!!!!!!
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Love it
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805...
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Jah bless Erdington England ! Klu klux klan first single I ever owned.
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conscious lyrics, reality to the core, music filled with the warriors spirit. The conquering Lion of Judah reigns supreme, the Babylonian system must yield in the end....messa g e is consistent.. . . S t e e l Pulse shout the rally cry!
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Real is real every words come true facts
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Love this beautiful song ������
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Saw them at Toads place performing gang warfare best roots live performance ever
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Just AWESOME! Chant a psalm a day, ya mon.
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I saw Steel Pulse at the Fillmore in San Francisco in 1989 - one of the best shows I've ever seen. Ya Mon . . .
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True reggae
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U r the true steel pulse keep it up jah



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True Reggae Warrior...
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Hi :-) :-)
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Cant believe i saw them play winstons ob sd ....cool as f**k. Best big band at a small venue ive ever seen.
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Love their music, still can't tell what they're saying...
Show more

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