Steel Pulse creates history

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer writer

Monday, January 20, 2014

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The Grammy Awards are scheduled for January 26 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. Five nominees (Beres Hammond, Ziggy Marley, Sizzla, Snoop Lion and Sly and Robbie) are up for Best Reggae Album. Leading up to the big event, the Jamaica Observer presents a daily reflection on the reggae category. Today, we look at Steel Pulse's Babylon The Bandit.

IT may not have been their strongest effort, but Babylon The Bandit earned British reggae band Steel Pulse a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Recording in 1987.

Released the previous year, it included the hard-hitting King James Version, but lacked the passion of the band's previous album, Earth Crisis, which had been nominated for the inaugural reggae Grammy in 1985.

Distributed by Island Records' subsidiary Mango Records, Babylon The Bandit's rivals for the 1987 Grammy were Brutal (Black Uhuru), Club Paradise (Jimmy Cliff), Linton Kwesi Johnson in Concert With The Dub Band (Linton Kwesi Johnson and the Dub Band) and Rasta Philosophy (The Itals).

Steel Pulse is the only non-Jamaican act to win what is now known as the Best Reggae Album category.

Most of the band's members, including singer-songwriter David Hinds, were born in the Handsworth area of England to Jamaican parents.

They initially recorded for Island and toured as the opening act for Bob Marley on his 1979 European tour. Three years later, Steel Pulse released the outstanding album, True Democracy, which remains their signature piece.

Steel Pulse, who were again nominated for Best Reggae Recording for Victims (1991) and Rastafari Centennial (1992), are still active on the tour circuit.

Their last album, African Holocaust, was released in 2004.

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