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Steel Pulse Mural recognising Revolution in Music unveiled in Handsworth

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

A new mural honouring legendary reggae band Steel Pulse was been unveiled in Handsworth to coincide with National Album Day while recognising revolution through music.

The special unveiling – part of the city’s Bass Festival celebrating 50 Years of Reggae – was held as Birmingham marks Black History Month.

Founding band members Basil Gabbidon and Mykaell Riley were in attendance as the mural was unveiled in front of the Handsworth Wellbeing Centre by Lord Mayor Yvonne Mosquito and Punch Records founder Ammo Talwar MBE.

Ammo said,

“The significance of the mural being on Handsworth Wellbeing Centre, formerly Handsworth Leisure Centre, was that it formerly was used by different groups within the community. Friday nights used to be a Blues dance venue, Saturday daytime an Asian wedding venue and Sunday it hosted techno raves.”

L-R: Lord Mayor Yvonne Mosquito, Ammo Talwar (Punch Records) Mykaell Riley and Basil Gabbidon (founding members of Steel Pulse) at The unveiling of the Steel Pulse mural

The Mural is a recreation of the sleeve to the iconic album Handsworth Revolution which was released in 1978.

Ammo added: “We identified six different spots for the mural, the original plan was for a 4×4 canvas. We did not think we would get this spot, so when we did get this spot, which was a different shape to the planned 4×4 canvas, we stretched it to the whole arch at the front of the centre.”

Steel Pulse has a very eclectic fan base, from traditional and non-traditional reggae fans all over the world to fans of punk across many different colours and cultures.

French Fans

A French accent in the crowd caught our ear, so we went to speak to William who is a self proclaimed “Steel Pulse superman” from France.

He said: “I discovered the band in Martinique, David Hings (founding member of the band) lives there. Steel Pulse always been big in Martinique. I was 14-years-old when I first came across the music, I recorded it to a tape from a vinyl. I was living in the countryside, nowhere near Paris, so this music was hard to get. I protected this cassette, it was so precious to me!

“Even though we only understood a small percentage of the lyrics, it was the beat, the melody and everything. It is bizarre that I am now here, I now also now know Basil Gabbidon.

“When I first saw Basil’s wife, I thought I knew her. She looks like someone I might know, maybe a cousin or something. I could not think where I knew her from, then I remembered she looked like another artist who was one of our biggest at the time in the French Caribbean, but not very known in this part of the world.”

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