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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

STEEL PULSE

By Tom Pryor

Handsworth Revolution
Mango

Steel Pulse's stunning 1978 debut marked the watershed moment when British reggae came of age, briefly eclipsing its Jamaican forebears and setting the stage for the Two-Tone ska movement and the blue-eyed pop reggae of bands like the Police. Although the band was initially a bigger favorite with punks than dreads, these Birmingham roots rock rebels laid down some of the finest conscious reggae of the 1970s. "Ku Klux Klan" and "Soldiers" smolder with righteous fury, and "Macka Spliff" bubbles up playfully, while the title track, named for their hometown of Handsworth Wood, is a straight-up scorcher.