British Reggae Revolution


Steel Pulse – Handsworth Revolution uploaded by DJ Empress Licensed under CC-BY-SA.

Steel Pulse burst onto the scene in 1975 and were one of the reggae bands closely associated with the Rock Against Racism campaign. They played alongside punk bands the Buzzcocks at the Northern Carnival and the Clash in Victoria park.

DJ Empress shares her memory of seeing Steel Pulse perform and their music on the People’s History of Pop.

“The first time I saw Steel Pulse perform was in the 1970s in a Birmingham City Centre nightclub called Rebecca’s, I was about 10 feet away from them, there wasn’t even a stage, but the music was incredible, and I became a fan from that night. Handsworth Revolution was the first album I ever bought back in 1978; and I still have that album today.

I never really heard music by Steele Pulse being played on the sound systems in the dancehalls, and although back then, the reggae music scene was predominately about black culture, Rasta, Marcus Garvey and going back to Africa, with deep lyrics, the more popular tunes were by Dennis Brown, Culture and Burning Spear amongst many others out of Jamaica. Then when it came to UK reggae you predominately heard London Lovers Rock on the sound systems.” DJ Empress

Handsworth has a strong musical heritage with poet Benjamin Zephania describing the the area as “practically the Jamaican capital of Europe”. Source: Birmingham Conservation Trust. 

We would love to see your Steel Pulse, Joan Armatrading, Apache Indian and other Handsworth artist memories on the People’s History of Pop. Share you story at PHOP.CO.UK