Paying Tribute

Tribute To The Martyrs album review

Paul Green in PopStar

23 June 1979

After the initial acclaim handed out by the press to Steel Pulse due to their Handsworth Revolution album, rave reviews became more scant, the critics as usual aiming their cynicism at a band they had once put on such a high pedestal. With this new offering however, the Handsworth rebels have proved that they can take it all in their stride and have come up with the goodies yet again.

Tribute To The Martyrs is exactly what it says, a tribute to those who have suffered for their rights and the rights of their people. Uncle George, a reference to George Jackson and Biko's Kindred Lament, the story of Steve Biko being the more blatant examples. Unseen Guest opens the album. A smooth, flowing number, it's impossible to stand still to, and sets the mood for an album of great dance music. Sound System, the new single, bounces cheerfully out of the speakers. Listen to the lyrics, they sum up Steel Pulse's love for their music perfectly. Back to the more serious matters for Jah Pickney (RAR), which is as you would have gathered an anti-National Front song. "I suffer not from inferiority" sings David Hinds and you had better believe him, he knows he has no reason to feel inferior to anyone (least of all a bunch of Facists!).

If you're into spot on vocal harmonies then look no further than the title track. The arrangements are quite superb and the music is easily equal, free and flowing just as it should be. Side two isn't quite as strong but still contains enough good tunes to make this one of the most enjoyable albums to be released this year. Babylon Makes The Rules is probably the most memorable, Biko the most hard-biting. "Biko died in chains" they tell us bitterly as if it were their own brother. If this album doesn't emulate its predecessor and make the top ten, there is something desperately wrong with our music scene because the British charts need music of this quality.

Text copyright PopStar 1979, used without permission.

Steel Pulse [pictured in Musik Express Nov 1980]

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