It’s 1985 and Steel Pulse is entering a transitional period.
Commenting on that period lead singer David Hinds recalls, “By the mid-’80s, our style of politically conscious, spiritually aware reggae music was being phased out. We had to try to get ourselves strengthened within the American market to stay alive, and we thought it was necessary to have a combination of politically oriented songs and songs we called ‘bait music,’ songs that had a pop aspect to it so we could stay in the mainstream.”
While on a 7 month tour of North America, their newly adopted home, the band are joined by Tyrone Downie of The Wailers on keyboards, before a Caribbean tour that includes Reggae SuperJam and a stopover in Jamaica to finalize the recording of their next album.
1985 also sees a strained relationship with Elektra after the record company refuses to print lyrics on the sleeve of their sixth album, Babylon The Bandit. The band insists and pays for the extra themselves but the fall-out is terminal and their contract is torn up, leaving bad feelings on both sides. The album earns the band their first Grammy music award for Best Reggae Album, despite a mixed reception from the public.
Hinds remembers, “The album had flaws in its overall delivery. A track like School Boys Crush, if that’s not bubble-gum, I don’t know what is.”
Bassist Alvin Ewen and Carlton Bryan (lead) took up the guitar duties for this album, with Jimmy Haynes again in charge of production. Ronald Butler (lead) and Errol Reid (keyboards) joined the band on the road the following year as they toured Europe and the US.
In September 1985, immediately following their North American tour in, Steel Pulse returns to London to perform a show. I apologize as I don’t have the specifics with regard to this show. The taper says that he thinks it was November 1985. However, I believe this to be the Birmingham show from September 1985. Mark Kamba of Black Beat International published a review of the show, which can be found HERE.
This archive was originally published in the Midnight Raver Blog on May 23, 2012.