Local Wire

Steel Pulse @ Marquee Theatre

Reggae certainly has changed since Steel Pulse began in the mid-1970s. Back then, roots reggae ruled the roost. Dancehall, lovers rock, and reggaton were distant visions; dub was spacing outside mainstream circles. With a blend of tightly knit song structures packing pop hooks and sociopolitical lyrics, Steel Pulse gradually took a bite from Bob Marley's popularity, especially in their U.K. home. Fronted by David Hinds, bearer of the now-fallen, formerly imposing "towering dread" (the inspiration for Chris Tucker's hairdo in The Fifth Element?), Steel Pulse's Earth Crisis and True Democracy remain required reggae listens. In 1986, the group scored a Best Reggae Album Grammy for Babylon the Bandit. Though additional Grammy nominations arrived for the more traditional albums, the group briefly explored newly emerging styles but consistently retreated "Back to My Roots," as Hinds sings prophetically on 1994's Vex. One constant from the 37-year-old band: politically charged lyrics. In what already is a genre for identifying social injustice, Hinds' stirring reggae always carries an on-point message. "From a spiritual aspect, it's really an upliftment through facing [the] reality [of] what's out there," he says in a press release. "We deal with positive spirits." And yes, mon, plenty of positive vibrations too.