Steel Pulse splashed on to the international reggae scene with Handsworth Revolution. Handsworth is an area of Birmingham with a large Afro-Caribbean community, which has seen significant tensions between the locals and the police, due to heavy handed policing and ‘random’ stop and searches.
It was, in 1981, the scene of copycat race riots following similar outpourings in Brixton, Toxteth and Moss Side around the country.
Listening to this album, you get a powerful sense of the struggles of being a black person in England at that time – facing racism from the police, far right, and even everyday people.
The album was released in 1978, and provides a strong, conscious – and faith based – explanation of the issues faced by the community at the time. Sadly, many of these challenges are as relevant today as then, even if the more virulent and explicit forms of racism have been stamped out for the time being.
“Prodigal Son” is a classic roots track, full of bounce and heavy vibes. After a short intro, the song kicks off, bass heavy, strong on the guitar, and lyrically excellent.
It’s about the decline of society and the redemption which can be attained through Rastafari – a spiritual exhortation is true 70s roots style.