Steel Pulse: Selwyn "Bumbo" Brown

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February 2, 2013 relaunched to help fans learn more about the band, engage with our most passionate fans, and focus on love and justice.
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RAR 78
In 1978, race relations in Britain were in crisis. The National Front was gathering power and immigrants lived in fear of violence.

But that year also saw the birth of a campaign - Rock Against Racism (RAR) - aimed at halting the tide of hatred with music - a grassroots movement culminating in a march across London and an open-air concert in the East End. The campaign involved groups like The Clash, Steel Pulse, Buzzcocks, X-Ray Spex, The Ruts, and others, staging concerts with an anti-racist theme, in order to discourage young people from embracing racist views.

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composer, backing vocals, keyboards

Selwyn "Bumbo" Brown

Selwyn “Bumbo” Brown

On stage I use:
Korg Triton Pro, Yamaha Motif, Hohner Melodica and sometimes a Roland Vocoder -

I have used the Triton for some years now, it's a versatile keyboard and very adaptable to different situations. Sound-wise it has all the patches and textures that I need for my performance, e.g. organs, clavinets, horns, strings, harpsichords, electric pianos/Rhodes, synth lead and even great bass sounds. It has 2 modes: Program (single sounds) and combination (Layered sounds). Very straightforward to set up and even the factory sounds are very usable. The keyboard action is very comfortable and it travels well due to the durable construction. I've always had a soft spot for Korg keyboards from way back in the vocoder/ M1 days. It is basically a workstation that also has sampling, editting, midi and sequencing capabilities. The settings can be loaded onto 3" floppy disks so you always have your performance library.

The Yamaha Motif I use mostly for Piano on stage but - like the Triton - it is also a great workstation with a vast selection of usable factory sounds. This keyboard also has a nice key action, not too heavy and not too light and is a great tool in the studio for recording. Some of the retro sounds are very authentic e.g. Wurlitzer electric pianos, organs, clavinets and just about any patch you need for most situations. I began using the Motif around 10 years ago after trying one out at a music store and being very impressed. They're very reliable keyboards too and all settings can be stored on a custom smart card. Ideal for touring too especially with the sturdy construction.

The Roland vocoder is an instrument I've always been fond of. It injects a different texture into the overall sound even when used sparingly. I've used it on several Steel Pulse recordings including "Wild Goose Chase", "Earth Crisis" and "Save Black Music". It has an identity of it's own, adding a nice robotic "vocal" tone and it preceded the popular auto-tune effects which are so widespread in todays popular music. I haven't used it much on recent shows as I've been experimenting with an Electro Harmonix V256 Vocoder pedal and trying to decide which to settle with.

The Hohner Melodica is a reed based instrument, popularised in the 1970's by the legendary Augustus Pablo of "Java" fame. You blow through the mouthpiece and play the piano type keys. It has a pleasant, "floaty" quality to it and - like a keyboard - is equally at home with chords or single note lines. This is also the first instrument that I played when I joined Steel Pulse. It is extremely portable and ideal for practising (arrangements, backing vocals, keyboard parts etc) in small spaces, I don't leave home without it!! Most recently I played it in the live dub section for "Global Warning" and solo on our cover of "Franklin's Tower".

Selwyn “Bumbo” Brown is a keyboardist, singer, songwriter, producer, workshop director and founding member of Steel Pulse. Born in London to parents Simeon and Dezrene who migrated from Jamaica, Brown moved to Birmingham in the early 1960s. There, in Handsworth, he met up with David "Dread", and the rest is history.

Selwyn is the composer of the following Steel Pulse hits: Babylon Makes The Rules, Don't Be Afraid, Melting Pot, Love This Reggae Music, Stay With The Rhythm, Soul of my Soul, and co-writer of House of Love.

Over the years, Brown has collaborated with numerous artists and musicians on various projects. One of his current projects is Pulse Beat, a Steel Pulse tribute band co-managed with former Steel Pulse founding member and iconic drummer, Steve “Grizzly” Nisbett. Other recent projects include collaborations with Jerry Johnson, Sidney Mills, Wayne "C#" Clarke, Broussai, Easy Star, as well as local Birmingham talent including Josh Brown, Wizi, Derrick Brown (Mommas House Recordings), Cipher Jewels, Jason Taylor/Owen Wilson of TMA (The Movement Army), Donna Sterling and Poppa Biggie.

Brown also conducts recording and Reggae History workshops in schools/hospitals/community centers and will be including some of the songs on a children's album.

In 2012, Brown composed a song to mark Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence: “Jamaica (Land of wood and water)", recorded with Pulse Beat, produced by Louie Brooks.


David Dread Hinds
Selwyn Brown
Sidney MillsSidney
Amlak Tafari

C SharpWayne
Elvis Clarke

Keysha Taggart
Makiesha "Keysha" McTaggart
Jerry Johnson




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