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Babylon the Bandit

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Album Review

Steel Pulse's move from Island's Mango imprint to the Elektra label was marked by the brilliant True Democracy, arguably the strongest album of the band's career. That release was followed by the disappointing Earth Crisis, an album that found the group seemingly unable to decide whether they were more interested in delivering roots reggae in the confrontational/prophetic mode or slick pop reggae in the lovers rock mode. When Babylon the Bandit emerged two years later, it was received with some wariness by the band's fans. And as it turned out, many of the problems from Earth Crisis remained: the transitions between such stark politico-religious statements as "Not King James Version" and "Babylon the Bandit" and candy-coated pop reggae like "School Boy's Crush (Jail Bait)" and "Love Walks Out" were just as jarring, and the album-opening "Save Black Music" is twaddle. (From whom exactly did "reggae, jazz, funk, and blues" need to be saved in 1985? Was there an international conspiracy at work?) But there are still several great songs on this album, including the finger-wagging "Sugar Daddy" and the excellent "Not King James Version," an assertion of spiritual independence from the traditions of Babylon. As had been the case a few times before ("Your House," "Babylon Makes the Rules"), the album's best track is written and sung by keyboardist Selwyn Brown: a sweet and lovely song of romantic reassurance titled "Don't Be Afraid." Fans shouldn't hesitate, but newcomers might want to start with True Democracy and then explore the three Mango albums before trying this one.

Customer Reviews

Awesome

Shocked there's not 100 reviews but guess its old school so everyone got the record hahahaha

Biography

Formed: 1975 in Birmingham, England

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

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...
Full bio
Babylon the Bandit, Steel Pulse
View In iTunes
  • $8.91
  • Genres: Reggae, Music, Roots Reggae
  • Released: Nov 19, 1985

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