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Steel Pulse

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Biography

Birmingham, United Kingdom (1975 – present)

Probably the UK’s most highly-regarded roots reggae outfit, Steel Pulse originally formed at Handsworth Wood Boys School, Birmingham, and comprised David Hinds (lead vocals, guitar), Basil Gabbidon (lead guitar, vocals) and Ronnie McQueen (bass).

However, it is Hinds who, as songwriter, has always been the engine behind Steel Pulse, from their early days establishing themselves in the Birmingham club scene onwards. Formed in 1975, their debut release, ‘Kibudu, Mansetta And Abuku” arrived on the small independent label Dip, and linked the plight of urban black youth with the image of a greater African homeland. They followed it with ‘Nyah Love’ for Anchor.

Surprisingly, they were initially refused live dates in Caribbean venues in the Midlands because of their Rastafarian beliefs. Aligning themselves closely with the Rock Against Racism 1 organisation, they chose to tour instead with sympathetic elements of the punk movement, including the Stranglers, XTC etc.: “Punks had a way of enjoying themselves - throw hordes at you, beer, spit at you, that kind of thing”.

Eventually they found a more natural home in support slots for Burning Spear, which brought them to the attention of Island Records. Their first release for Island was the ‘Ku Klux Klan’ 45 rpm, a considered tilt at the evils of racism, and one often accompanied by a visual parody of the sect on stage.

By this time their ranks had swelled to include Selwyn ‘Bumbo’ Brown (keyboards), Steve ‘Grizzly’ Nesbitt (drums), Fonso Martin (vocals, percussion) and Michael Riley (vocals). Handsworth Revolution was an accomplished long playing debut and one of the major landmarks in the evolution of .

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