Prince Buster

King of Ska

You've heard many a ska artist proclaim himself the King of Ska. Perhaps none has more right to do so than the unforgettable Prince Buster, especially since he won so many of those sound system battles against Dodd and the other greats of the early sixties.

This album is another combination of tracks preveously unreleased on CD, as well as some better known ones, such as a certain song every band on Two Tone did called "Madness," and "Enjoy Yourself," which the Specials covered on their second EP.

The majority on this album are instrumentals, letting those who didn't already know that Prince Buster is just as good at producing high-quality tracks without vocals as he is at featuring his own voice on others. It is quite a departure from Wreck A Pum Pum; instead of the virtues of having fun with women, this colloection extols those of Mohammed Ali (Prince Buster's name comes from his old boxing monicher), being wise while young, and political unrest.

Among the best are the instrumental "Ska Town" (the horns on this one are unbeatable) and the almost Skatalites-quality triumph "7 Wonders of the World." You can see why 7wow named themselves after this track.

The best song with vocals has got to be number 10, "Fire Stick." If you like The Prince or ska at all, this album is a must-have.

Prince Buster

Wreck a Pum Pum

"Wreck A Pum Pum" (if you're not up on Patois, this could be approximated to "Stick a Pussy") is a bouncy romp through Mr. Campbell's musical libido. It is not "unlistenable," as other reviewers have branded it, but it might not be something to be played in mixed company, especially if you have a tenuous hold on your significant other.

The title track is set to the tune of "The Little Drummer Boy," and essentially extols The Prince's desire to have a woman tonight. I really liked The Sexy Girls' response track, "Wreck A Buddy," which has been covered by female reggae artists in recent years.

The album also includes three more well-known songs such as the oft-covered "Rough Rider," "Ten Commandments" (obviously cut before P.B.'s Muslim days), and "Whine and Grine."

The best tracks (musically) are split between "Pharoah House Crash" and "Pum Pum A Go Will You." The second would be the clear winner, with its superior backing vocals (possibly by the Sexy Girls, though no credit is given), and rolicking, hurky-jerky, pre-rocksteady beat; it would, that is, but for PB's own vocal contribution to the song, which consists of mostly raspy grunts which you might say are better suited to later reggae.

"Pharoah House Crash," on the other hand, has all the elements of a classic ska song: a two-chord progression, horns running the show more than the guitar, and vocals spinning folk knowledge on the refrain, viz: "Every day carry bucket to the well / one day the bucket bottom must drop out."

Track number ten, "The Abeng" is a very welcome instrumental, and the following track, "Train to Girls Town," which the listener may anticipate as the most lusty of all the songs, is actually the least libidinous while at the same time being the most self-referential. Passengers aboard the train are shuttled past the houses of Emmanuel Zachariah Zachinpom, Judge Dread, and "The Mighty Prince Buster"!

If you are a fan of The Prince, you must get this album. However if things like sex offend you, you should check out the second in the series, "King of Ska".

 

 

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