Steel Pulse Still Makes Music with Conscience

Lead singer David Hinds and keyboardist and backing vocalist Selwyn Brown are the only two founding members of Steel Pulse that are still on board. But the 37-year-old English reggae band retains its winning blend of snappy beats, upbeat melodies and — crucially — thought-provoking lyrics.


Through good times and bad, the group has rarely sacrificed its commitment to social and political causes. That commitment is evident on such albums as 1982’s “True Democracy,” 1984’s “Earth Crisis” and 1988’s “State of Emergency.”

The group’s latest release, 2004’s “African Holocaust,” features such earnest songs as “Global Warming” and “No More Weapons.” It also includes a ska-infused version of Bob Dylan’s 1971 lament, “George Jackson,” which includes the memorable couplet: Sometimes I think this whole world is one big prison yard / Some of us are prisoners, the rest of us are guards.

Fortunately, the dance-happy reggae riddims that are Steel Pulse’s stock in trade sound no less compelling when wedded to meaningful messages. Or as the band’s co-founder, David Hinds, told me in a U-T San Diego interview back in the 1980s: “We use our music as bait. We’ve got things to say, and often what we say is in the form of poetry, (so) the music reaches people before the lyrics do.”

Ultimately, though, Hinds believes it is a musician’s soul that most strongly connects with an audience. Steel Pulse hopes to demonstrate precisely that when the latest edition of the band performs Friday as part of the Del Mar Racetrack’s annual summer concert series.

“Many attempts have been made to copy this music, but the thing that is missing is the soul. Certain (social) conditions help breed certain types of music,” he noted.


“I’m not knocking any other bands. Really and truly, it’s music and it’s a business, and whatever the best way to promote something is, that’s the way you should do it. It’s just that, when music gets copied, most of the time the original artist never gets recognized.”

Steel Pulse Concert Details

When: Friday, Aug. 3, following the last race of the day (which begins at 4 p.m.).

Where: Del Mar Racetrack Summer Concert Series, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar

Tickets: Concert is free to race-goers or $20 after the last race

Phone: (858) 755-1141