Guest writer Ben Walton goes forward in time with Handsworth Revolution…
‘Handsworth Revolution’ – the album – was released by Steel Pulse on the Island label in 1978. In the UK, it was the year of firefighters and car factory workers’ strikes, the death throws of Jim Callaghan’s floundering Labour Government and a lot of pissed off young people struggling to find their place in the world.
‘Handsworth Revolution’ was a monumentally important album that year, it even made the top ten charts. Amazing! The only problem was, I was six in 1978, and didn’t hear the title track until 2009.
Brought up by an admittedly very cool older brother on the finer points of The Smiths and the indie guitar bands of the 1980s, of course I knew how important HR was, but I’d never heard it. Shame on me.
The title track? I was washing my baby daughter’s bottles in a non-descript kitchen in a non-descript home county in England when it came on the radio. It blew me away, and flew straight into my all-time top ten. David Hinds voice just soared like an angel for me – clear as a bell, and the message even clearer. That vocal was like being tucked into bed just before getting a slap round the face. And I loved it. Lyrics I could understand, melodic and crunching back beats and that voice. Wow that voice.
The band would soon support Bob Marley & The Wailers on a 12-date European tour in in the summer of 1978. And the rest is history – still touring, still making music and still being amazing.
I genned up on Steel Pulse, listened to everything they’d made, taking me into a new musical direction I never thought to follow. The Smiths’ frontman Morrissey once sang, ‘It says nothing to me about my life. Thankfully, ‘Handsworth Revolution’ said everything. Thank you, Steel Pulse.