Steel Pulse were not only Birmingham’s biggest reggae band, but easily one of the most influential British reggae bands, rivalled by perhaps only Aswad. UB40 should get an honourable mention, but they were always much more pop orientated.
The band are often known for their classic debut, Handworth Revolution, released in 1978. But Tribute To The Martyrs was released a year later in 1979 and has much of the same classic quality. This is the album “Babylon Makes The Rules” is from.
The sound is deeply political, touching on the roots cornerstone topics of Rastafari and black oppression, but at the same time approaching it from the standpoint of the Jamaican community in England.
“Babylon Makes The Rules” is a great tune. Defiant and angry, it still presents well as a chilled reggae song, with a slow skanking bassline, catchy call and response vocals and well used horns.
The organ makes fleeting appearances to drive home the melodic impact of the song.
The lyrics are a condemnation of the system and are a universally relevant hymn of redemption and struggle. It helps that the chorus is so undeniably infectious…