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Handsworth Revolution

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Album Review

Steel Pulse's debut album set the band decisively apart from its British colleagues. This was not, by any stretch of the imagination, either pop-reggae or lovers rock. Nor was it the kind of dreamy Rasta reggae or art-for-art's sake dub that was popular at the time. Though the subtly jazzy swing that would later become explicit was already informing Steel Pulse's groove, the band's first album seemed not at all interested in generating anything like a party atmosphere. Handsworth Revolution is about politics first and religion second, with a quick nod to the dance ("Sound System") and another to the herb ("Macka Splaff") and not a single love lyric to be found anywhere. This gives the music a certain intellectual urgency, and the band's instrumental virtuosity is impressive given its youth and relatively inexperience. But it also makes for a rather dry listening experience; other than "Ku Klux Klan" and the gorgeous "Prodigal Son," there's not much to hold onto here, melodically speaking — and even those two songs sound dry in comparison to the band's subsequent work. Still, there's a solidity to these tunes, a sheer tensile strength, that makes them compelling in their own Spartan way. Recommended.

Customer Reviews

real roots music

I bought this album in Holland after seeing the band on tour with the legend Bob Marley on his world tour and to this day have not been to a better concert, i was mesmerised at the hard sound they made and how tight they are as a band, this is by far their best release,no compromise or pleasing record companies here just true political,religious reggae at its best, Jah, rastafari......

a classic

this album stands the test of time . first heard the pulse at college and bought the vinyl the next day . outstanding and first of its kind . the album has travelled the world with me and is now on my ipod . both of my kids are well into it and the envy of their mates . get it you will not be disappointed

oh to be young

british reggae at its best .


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
Handsworth Revolution, Steel Pulse
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  • £6.99
  • Genres: Reggae, Music, Roots Reggae, Rock
  • Released: 01 January 1978

Customer Ratings