Steel Pulse at The Venue - gig review

Vivien Goldman in Melody Maker

1 December 1979

David Hinds on stage at The Venue.

Steel Pulse have definitely matured in the last year or so since I saw them last, but I think I preferred them when they were kids. The basic problem was that it became very difficult to tell one song from another, it sounded like the same bass line half the time.

As the m.c. proudly announced, the Pulse are about to head off from Handsworth to have a bash at the States. They are pretty well equipped to do it, in one sense; the musicianship was very smooth indeed, the presentation polished. I tried very hard to dance, but wound up sitting down trying to keep track of when we moved into different songs, finally despairing when the encore segued one song directly into another, and I knew they were different but I still couldn't tell them apart. I suppose that the melodies aren't distinctive enough, I muttered as I headed gratefully for the door.

This despite the fact that I appreciated Steel Pulse trying to be militant and polished at the same time, because the one doesn't preclude the other (rougher doesn't necessarily mean better). The harmonies were so accurate that I wished they'd have stronger melodies to work on. Good intentions, good execution - but, sadly, low bop-ability.

Incidentally, the majority of the Venue didn't agree with me. As I headed towards the door, many of the predominantly white audience was still nodding or dancing.

In the same newspaper: In the 1979 Melody Maker Readers' Poll, Steel Pulse were voted 2nd best Reggae Act behind Bob Marley & the Wailers, for the second year in succession.

Text copyright Melody Maker 1979, used without permission.

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