Steel Pulse were one of Britain's greatest reggae bands, rivaled only by Aswad in terms of creative and commercial success. Generally a protest-minded Rastafarian outfit, Steel Pulse started out playing authentic roots reggae with touches of jazz and Latin music, and earned a substantial audience among white U.K. punks as well. Their 1978 debut, Handsworth Revolution, is still regarded by many critics as a landmark and a high point of British reggae. As the '80s wore on, slick synthesizers and elements of dance and urban R&B gradually crept into their sound, even as their subject matter stayed on the militant side. By the late '80s, Steel Pulse had won a Grammy and were working full-fledged crossover territory, but never reached the same degree of commercial acceptance as Aswad or Inner Circle. They subsequently returned to a tough-minded, rootsy sound that nonetheless made concessions to contemporary trends with touches of dancehall and hip-hop.
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