Tuesday, December 12, 2023

H.I.M. Pulse

Steel Pulse - Babylon Makes the Rules

I took 10 days off from here, but I return today with the first wintry blast of December as we wrap 2023 in pretty paper.

We'll augur in winter with a classic anniversary special, recorded 44 years ago today and featuring one of the classic bands from the heyday of Reggae.

While he was alive, no less that Bob Marley referred to these guys as "my favorite band".

At their peak at the turn of the 1980s, they were the equal of almost any group, in any genre, you could name.

Of course it's nearly impossible to explain to anyone who wasn't there just how thorough the infiltration of Reggae was into the mainstream culture at the time, with everyone from the Rolling Stones to The Police to Rush falling over themselves to absorb the style into their stuff.

England -- the primary destination for immigrants from Jamaica in the 1960s and 1970s -- was no exception, with an entire slate of artists from The Selecter to Linton Kwesi Johnson commanding deserved attention.

Of all of the UK Reggae music, these guys stand out for a myriad of reasons.

Provocative and political, they never hesitated to push the boundaries. I have to say the added costume touch of the hoods during "Ku Klux Klan" was a winner and showed just what sort of stones they had hanging.

Perhaps best of all, they are still around -- with some original cats, even -- and you can still see and hear Steel Pulse out there on the boards.

Anyway this show is a real spliff kicker, and may be reissued as one of those sleek WDR DVD/CD combo packages someday before we all turn to dust.

That day is not yet, however. It may never come, so in lieu of a legit reissue let's fire it up on our own.

Steel Pulse
WDR Studio A
Köln, Germany 

01 introduction
02 Bad Man
03 Uncle George
04 Harassment
05 Babylon Makes the Rules
06 Blasphemy
07 Drug Squad
08 Soldiers
09 Tribute to the Martyrs
10 Reggae Fever
11 Ku Klux Klan
12 Sound System

Total time: 57:18

David Hinds - guitar, harmonica & vocals
Ronnie McQueen - bass & vocals
Basil Gabbidon - guitar & vocals
Phonso Martin - percussion & vocals
Steve 'Grizzly' Nisbett - drums
Selwyn Brown - keyboards & vocals

320/48k audio captured from an HD video on the WDR website
converted to 16/44 CD Audio by EN, December 2023
339 MB FLAC/direct link

This circulates from several sources, all of which are kind of flawed, with the FM simulcast suffering from a surplus of cracklies and the bootleg from the video sounding dull and less-than-optimally mixed.

So I went back into the archives of the WDR site and yacked it from there, boosting the volume some in the post production, and I think this is the best sounding version of this monster concert that's existed as of yet.

To accompany it, we made an AI mashup that quotes several classic 1980s horror films, topped by one of Steel Pulse's most accurate song titles, and that merch can be found here.

It does, doesn't it? I'll be back on the 19th with some sounds all of Ethiopia will await, if the foreign policy President Elon Musk is crafting doesn't end the human race before then.

Hopefully we'll make it to next Tuesday, so until then enjoy and don't forget to take your Pulse with this skankin' hour of vintage British Reggae!--J.