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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

STEEL PULSE

By Tom Terrell
Published September 8, 2005

True Democracy
Elektra/Rhino

Steel Pulse, the greatest reggae band to come out of the U.K., was formed in Birmingham in 1974 by lead singer/guitarist/composer David Hinds and lead guitarist Basil Gabbidon. Signed to Island records in ’78, Pulse would release three albums for the label.  In February of ’82, the band released True Democracy on its own Wise Man Doctrine label. The next month, Elektra licensed it, underwrote a North American/Caribbean summer tour and Pulse hired this reviewer as tour manager (the ultimate fan’s fantasy). The tour established Steel Pulse as Great Britain’s premier reggae band and True Democracy was/is universally acknowledged as Pulse’s masterpiece. Ten head-ringing, body-moving paeans to Rastafari (“Chant A Psalm,: “Worth His Weight In Gold (Rally Round),” “Dub’ Marcus Say”), ghetto empowerment and consciousness (“A Who Responsible?,” “Find It…Quick!,” “Leggo Beast,” “Man No Sober”), sound system culture (“Ravers,” “Blues Dance Raid”) and love (“Your House”). Rhino’s reissue of True Democracy adds bonus 12-inch versions of “Ravers” and “Leggo Beast” and previously unreleased dub versions of “Your House” and “A Who Responsible?,” thus rendering an already brilliant recording off the funkin’ chain.