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True Democracy

Steel Pulse

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Album Review

Although the group's first three albums are generally considered their finest, there is a very strong case to be made for including Steel Pulse's Elektra debut in their core collection as well. Where Reggae Fever had found the band moving from hardcore Rasta politics into lover's rock and party anthems, True Democracy marks a return to more ideological subject matter; the cover art, which shows singer David Hinds reading the Bible to his rapt bandmates, is a dead giveaway. Their sound might be a little bit slicker than before, but it's also harder and the lyrics less compromising — "Leggo Beast" denounces adultery over a stripped-down one-drop beat; "Man No Sober" inveighs against drunkenness; "A Who Responsible?" uses a dour trombone line to call down judgment on Babylon. But the mood is lightened somewhat by "Your House," a gorgeous love song, and by the exalted "Chant a Psalm." This is one of Steel Pulse's most satisfying and fully realized albums.

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...
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True Democracy, Steel Pulse
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