...the sound of a band pulling out all the stops to regain their position as the UK's...
Simon Coates 2005
Birmingham's Steel Pulse contributed great chunks of positivity to the history of UK reggae, but they - as the 80s progressed -were also guilty of nearly derailing British reggae into a stylistic backwater.
Having recorded such landmark roots and protest sets as True Democracy and Handsworth Revolution (which included the totemic track,"Ku Klux Klan" ) - founder-member David Hines and crew submitted to the allure of the mid-eighties fascination with the syn-drum and the dancefloor. And, as Aswad had done with singles like "Don't Turn Around", Steel Pulse not only alienated some of the dedicated following that their polemic had earned them, but came close to sidelining themselves as a novelty act.
Fast forward to 2005 and it seems they just might have got their groove back. African Holocaust is the bands first studio outing since the wholly forgettable Rage and Fury from 1998 and - with various original Pulse members fading away over the years - it could almost be seen as a David Hines' solo effort. Although this isn't such a bad thing; after all, who better to get Steel Pulse back on track than the man who ran the engine room right from the start?
The album's theme is one of black history, with the cover art depicting prominent faces like Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X. Hines' is in fine form;the perfect timing of his vocal delivery filling tracks like "Global Warning" with the kind of urgency that made his group such a potent force back in the day. Guests on the album include Damien Marley, and even Capleton takes a couple of minutes off from his perpetual tantrum to mould "Blazing Fire" into a steady slab of dancehall funk.
Slightly over-polished in parts, African Holocaust is nonetheless the sound of a band pulling out all the stops to regain their position as the UK's number one roots collective.