How Steel Pulse Became Global Ambassadors With “Handsworth Revolution”

The English band Steel Pulse has been great global ambassadors of Reggae ever since their debut album release, in early 1978, wi
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The English band Steel Pulse have been great global ambassadors of Reggae ever since their debut album release, in early 1978, with the classic Handsworth Revolution.

Something changed in British Reggae music in the mid-70s, and it wasn’t the level of talent.

Bands such as The Rudies, Music Doctors, and Cimarons had been delivering top-quality reggae since the 60s but passed mostly unnoticed. What changed, however, was Bob Marley; record companies suddenly realized that Reggae bands could be sold to rock fans as album acts, not just lads who knocked out fun singles for other lads to stomp to. Suddenly a budget was available for reggae bands to make albums.

Matumbi, Cimarons, a little later, Aswad; and Steel Pulse, a group who had been stirring punk crowds, who were initially indifferent to reggae then realized that skanky music was made by outsiders just like their punk heroes were meant to be; and who, thanks in no small part to their debut album, 1978’s Handsworth Revolution, even topped bills over The Police at some gigs.

Steel Pulse cut a couple of singles at first, then astutely signed to a label that would hopefully understand them: Island, which was launched as a company dedicated to distributing and marketing Jamaican music in the UK.

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