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Sound System: The Island Anthology

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Album Review

Sound System: The Island Anthology compiles the first three Steel Pulse albums, all recorded for the Mango label, were easily the best they ever made. This two-disc set compiles the entirety of those three albums (Handsworth Revolution, Tribute to the Martyrs and Caught You, the last of which was titled Reggae Fever for U.S. release) along with a handful of B-sides and live versions. The familiar pleasures are all here — the dry, heavy skank of "Bun Dem" and "Soldiers," the strangely dreamy outrage of "Tribute to the Martyrs," the lighter grooves that buoy "Shining" and "Rumours (Not True)." The extra tracks aren't much to write home about; frankly, the two B-sides and two live tracks sound like filler. But the 12" version of the majestic "Babylon Makes the Rules" feel like divine revelation, as does the dubwise extension of "Heart of Stone" that was hinted at so tantalizingly in its original album version. For all of his jazzy excesses, David Hinds remains one of the finest reggae singers around, and there has never been a rhythm section to match this one for brick-wall solidity. An essential collection of top-flight British reggae.

Customer Reviews


British Reggae band, STEEL PULSE have enjoyed success since the late seventies. Their success has been with the roots crowd and occasionally with UK and international audiences as well. This wonderful 1997 anthology includes their first 3 albums (recorded during the late seventies/early eighties) and substitutes some original album songs with their 12" versions. The album also includes some extra tracks including live versions of "MACKA SPLAFF" and "NYAH LOVE."

Not Unlike the British reggae band, ASWAD, the band have been a self-contained band. Although now whittled down to 3 original members, (David Hinds, Steve Nesbitt, and Selwyn Brown), on these early recordings the initial line up play all the instruments themselves. There is something admirable about a reggae band that can produce both great vocals and "crucial riddims" without outside help. This two-disc package demonstrates a powerful sociopolitical vision that is spoken with great lyrics, beautiful harmonies and remarkable musicianship. Their up-tempo beat, mid-range melodies and mixing of jazz and rock guitars give the overall sound an "irie" feeling.

The one thing in common all the songs have on this massive compilation is The band's uncompromising stance. Songs such as "BABYLON MAKES THE RULES," "KU KLUX KLAN," and "JAH PICKNEY" demonstrate the musician's ability to address political oppression, while other songs such as, "UNSEEN GUEST," and "SOUND CHECK," display a more spiritual side of the band.
"SOUND SYSTEM: THE ISLAND YEARS" returns us to the early years of this rocking band. I'm sure you'll enjoy this look back on a band that has helped influence Dancehall and even pop music.

this album is shotta

truely recommend this album to whoever loves reggae. it is a classic.

A classic for any true reggae fan

This is one of those albums that can bring you out of a funk, and remind you what the core of reggae is about... keeping your spirits high and bringing power to your soul.


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
Sound System: The Island Anthology, Steel Pulse
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  • $19.99
  • Genres: Reggae, Music, World, Roots Reggae
  • Released: Mar 11, 1997

Customer Ratings


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