State of Emergency album review

Joe Woodbridge in NME

26 November 1988

Steel Pulse are big everywhere but here. Their sales are not spectacular in Britain and it's a wonder any record company gives them a UK release. But when the needle drops on the title track you remember just how their harmonies stun, what a voice David Hinds has, and how, when they get it right, their songs dig into your memory and won't let go.

Some of the songs just don't cut it, like the lame Steal A Kiss, the dull Reaching Out, and the self-explanatory Love This Reggae Music; Marley's Trench Town Rock remains the ultimate statement on this subject, and Pulse have examined this before on Sound System.

The songs that do score heavily here are the title tune, which wouldn't have been out of place on their mighty debut Handsworth Revolution; PUSH, where despite an acronym to justify they find some real roots; and perversely Disco Drop Out, where a Third World-like disco groove is inverted by lyrics showing the seamy side of clubland, albeit in a way that would get American airplay without causing offence.

The Handsworth references are still there, the atmosphere is still arresting, Steel Pulse still have what it takes. If they'd include a little more of their first name in the music, they'd be big here too (6).

Text copyright NME 1988, used without permission.

Home : Steel Pulse : Articles Index : E-mail

The contents of this website cannot be reproduced or copied without permission of the site author. (c) Andy Brouwer 2006