Live: Steel Pulse...Spreading a Wicked 'Reggae Fever'

The Reggae Connection Vol 1 # 1

August 1981

The Reggae Connection magazine

Steel Pulse, a group of British-born Jamaicans, recently concluded their premier tour of the United States. I & I was able to catch three of their performances and found their reggae fever to be CONTAGIOUS. Yes I-ya, Steel Pulse is tight!

All of the bretheren in the band have acquired a strong sensitivity that essentially combines their Rasta experiences with their very active political viewpoints. Their lyrics are aimed right out at a westernized Babylon, centering concise reggae riddims with a tribute song to Soledad brother George Jackson, and their songs Ku Klux Klan and Drugs Squad. The band, without any hesitation, also dedicated their song Handsworth Revolution to Jah children in Atlanta; during which Phonso Martin (the band's vibrant percussionist) held up a sign 'Nyabhinghi: Down to Black and White Oppressors'. Nyabhinghi has several references in Jamaican culture; however, this particular usage could be applied to the confidence of victory. It is a promise that righteousness will prevail (which appears to be the band's repetitive theme).

Perhaps life in Briitain creates more of an intensified awareness of justice with the frightening unemployment rates and recent racial violence. When I asked Phonso Martin about his life in Britain he expressed that it seemed to be more oppressive to Rastas and to a natural lifestyle than life in the States. Phonso also felt that Steel Pulse's reception throughout the tour was very positive. "We met some very irie people here...especially in California" that were totally emerged in the reggae scene.

One cannot help but emerge themselves into Steel Pulse's vibrating performances. The band's lead singer and head member, David Hinds, has the appearance of a medieval court jester who held the audience in the palm of his hand while casting a dread-lock spell.

There's no doubt their last performance at Privates in NYC spread..."The feeling I've been dreaming of, Great Universal Love. The only remedy that you can find, go skank away your troubles leave them behind, Reggae Paradise is nice nice!" (David Hinds - Reggae Fever).

Text copyright The Reggae Connection 1981, used without permission.

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