Monday, 9 May 2016

This Monday Reggae Feeling

Bad Man by Steel Pulse

Who'd have thought that one of the greatest reggae albums ever recorded would have been made in Britain? 'Handsworth Revolution' came bursting out of Birmingham in 1978 wearing its political heart on its sleeve. This was no standard reggae record, this was heavy stuff. It's not particularly easy listening either, with few solid tunes to grasp a hold of. Where it succeeds is in the confidence that exudes through the sound. These guys were young, but by Jah could they play.

There's also an uneasiness in some of the off-kilter rhythms that crop up now and again. It was a record that seemed to break an awful lot of rules and set a new agenda. Maybe being British was part of it. Maybe being black and British was part of it. Maybe being detached from the Jamaican homeland of the previous generation allowed Steel Pulse the freedom to explore new ground while still retaining a link to their cultural heritage. Maybe the revolutionary sound of punk proved that everyone was looking for something new and anything was possible. Maybe. I don't know what inspired the sound of 'Handsworth Revolution', but what I do know is that it is one hell of a record and few reggae albums have ever sounded quite like it.

The obvious choice of track would be Prodigal Son which would probably make my list of songs to take to my grave if I gave myself a limit higher than 50. It has, in my opinion, one of the best endings of any song ever recorded. It's just too obvious though. Ku Klux Klan is often the alternative go-to track, and because of that I'm not going to go for that either. Instead you're getting Bad Man. More precisely, you're getting the version of Bad Man the band recorded live for John Peel for their first BBC session in 1977. The album version has some great vocals on it, but this one has a quite glorious acapella segment about halfway through. By Jah could these guys harmonise. What a performance.



  1. An excellent post about an excellent record

  2. Couldn't have said it better CC.

  3. When growing up the reggae music I remember was always from Steel Pulse.