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#Throwback Thursday – Steel Pulse – Tribute To The Martyrs (1979)

I was a casual reggae fan in high school. It wasn’t until college that I got more actively interested in and passionate about reggae music. At some point during my lengthy stay at University of Delaware, I became friends with a grad student named Louie White. He hailed from Northern California and was a serious reggae fan. Louie burned some CDs for me, one of which was Steel Pulse “Tribute To The Martyrs.”

Steel Pulse’s sophomore studio album “Tribute To The Martyrs” was released in 1979 on Island Records. It is full of heavy grooves, catchy melodies, and great harmonies. Give this release a few solid listens and it may end up on your favorite reggae albums list.

As the album title and cover artwork suggest, these songs are full of political themes and messages about inequality and injustice. All the lyrics are posted on the band’s website here. I encourage you to read them while you listen to the music.

I had a radio show in college, and at some point created my first reggae mixtape “Reggae Explosion Uno.” The 20-song mix kicked off with Steel Pulse’s “Uncle George,” track 6 from “Tribute To The Martyrs.” I had no idea at the time, but this song is about George Lester Jackson, an African-American left-wing activist, author, and member of the Black Panther Party.

My first Steel Pulse concert was May 22, 2010 at 9:30 Club in Washington DC. Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad (a band I work with) opened the sold out show and it raged. Coincidentally, Steel Pulse played a concert on the night of Bob Marley’s funeral, which was broadcast live around the world from the 9:30 Club on May 21, 1981.

Steel Pulse was formed in 1975 in Birmingham, England, in the inner city area of Handsworth. After 37 years, these roots reggae legends continue to tour year round. Go see them live!

By Curtis Bergesen @Herbivorepr

BUY “Tribute To The Martyrs”: iTunes | Amazon

Steel Pulse / “Tribute To The Martyrs” / 1979 / Island Records


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@HERBIVOREPR vegetarian, only child, drums, verbalassaults. Aloha world!

I grew up in suburban Maryland just outside Washington, DC. My career in the music business began with Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad. One weekend in the early 2000s I was visiting a friend at Ithaca College. He introduced me to James Searl (PANDA! bassist) and we instantly became close friends. I became a big fan of GPGDS, and as time went on my relationship with the band transitioned from fan/friend to online helper/volunteer. The band’s touring schedule got increasingly busy, and I helped organize and build their online presence, and mailing list.

I had a weekly radio show in college named Mixed Vegetables. I did more than 100 shows in my 2+ years as a DJ on WVUD 91.3 FM Newark, the voice of the University of Delaware. I played all kinds of music including underground and lesser known artists. My passion for spreading musical truth grew, and I eventually booked and promoted some concerts under the moniker Arugula Promotions. Proud to say I put on Giant Panda's debut concert in the state of Delaware!

In May 2007 I moved to Brooklyn, NY; shortly thereafter I founded Herbivore Publicity. The vegetable theme is a continual dream...

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Bob Savage
10 years ago

Great band! Awesome record!

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