British reggae supergroup Steel Pulse to play Love City Live!
Published: January 25, 2013
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Reggae fans are in for a real treat this weekend when Steel Pulse takes the stage on Saturday as part of the Love City Live! festival on St. John.
As arguably the most successful British reggae band of their time, Steel Pulse has toured the world with Bob Marley and the Wailers, performed at Bill Clinton's inaugural celebration, and even won a Grammy Award.
Despite this fame, the band members have never lost touch with their roots, remaining committed to fighting poverty and promoting goodwill. The band's patented roots reggae, which includes hints of jazz, pop and hip-hop, has earned them scores of fans over the years.
Hailing from Birmingham, England, Steel Pulse has seen a rotating roster of musicians throughout the band's career, with the exception being founders David Hinds (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Selwyn Brown (keyboards, backing vocals), both of whom come from working class West Indian families.
"We were all school friends, and music was one of our common loves. And what happened in the 1970s, as you know, was that the music coming out of Jamaica was roots based music, and we were all musicians who listened to this music," explained Selwyn Brown. "I thought that if I could create music that would inspire people the same way that I felt inspired, that's what I wanted to do."
The band had a tough time landing gigs initially, as many music venues did not want to associate with the band's then-unknown Rastafarian beliefs and politically-charged music. So Steel Pulse aligned themselves with a more accepting, although unlikely, genre: punk rock.
"We were sort of apprehensive about doing this, as were most of the reggae bands. And what we decided to do is, we're going to talk to the people before we play, explain to them who we are, explain to them where we come from, explain to them the kind of music that we play. To our surprise, they listened to us.
Soon, Steel Pulse was already appearing in punk magazines and sharing the stage with such luminaries as The Police and the Clash. "A lot of the punk rock bands, like The Sex Pistols, XTC, The Police, Tom Robinson, and people like this, they started wearing Steel Pulse badges in their promo pictures and stuff," said Brown. "That kind of opened the doors not just for ourselves, but for other reggae bands."
Playing with these punk rock bands eventually allowed for Steel Pulse to catch the attention of legendary reggae label Island Records. By 1978 - only three years after forming - the band had released its first album. Eventually, the band was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Band, for 1985's Babylon the Bandit.
Fortunately for fans, Steel Pulse is still active as ever, having been nominated for another Grammy award with their 2004 release African Holocaust. And, according to Brown, fans can expect a new album sometime soon: It's going to be a progression from our last album, which was African Holocaust. So we've got various themes, from poverty to world unity, and things we can do worldwide. And we're working on a Steel Pulse documentary as well for the last couple of years. So we're probably going to release those two things in tandem at the same time."
Having performed in the Virgin Islands many times before, Brown is a longtime fan of the Caribbean atmosphere, even if he doesn't get quite as much time off as he might like. "Each time I come down here, we very rarely have time because we're coming in for such a short time. But if we do have time to do anything, we like to go out to the clubs and to the beaches, take in the local cuisine, the local music," said Brown.
With a long history of playing in the Virgin Islands, Steel Pulse is anticipating another great performance on Saturday. As Brown explained:
"We've been coming to the Virgin Islands since the 1990's, And I anytime I would come down there, we always got a good response."
For more information on the Love City Live! festival, visit www.http://experiencelovecitylive.com or call 340-422-0289.