Reggae may have been the sound of Jamaica, but the large West Indian population in England helped make the U.K. the second home for the music, and in the '70s a number of first-class British reggae bands began making themselves heard. Among the most popular and critically acclaimed British reggae bands was Steel Pulse, whose music was lean, sinewy roots reggae that commanded a powerful groove, matched with lyrics that dealt with political and social issues with a streetwise intelligence and Rasta consciousness. Fans and critics alike regard Steel Pulse's first three albums for Island/Mango as some of their very best recorded work, and Reggae Greats brings together ten songs from 1978's Handsworth Revolution, 1979's Tribute to the Martyrs, and 1980's Reggae Fever (Caught You). This set features some of the group's best-known songs, among them "Ku Klux Klan," "Babylon Makes the Rules," and "Reggae Fever," and while this is hardly an in-depth look at Steel Pulse's formative years, these tracks make an excellent case for the strength of this band and the passion and force of David Hinds' vocals. Serious fans will want to seek out the excellent two-disc collection Sound System: The Island Anthology, or at least the 17-song single-disc anthology Island Reggae Classics: Steel Pulse, but Reggae Greats is an effective snapshot of Steel Pulse's vital early music.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming