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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

PRINCE BUSTER

By MARK GORNEY
Published April 19, 2006

Fabulous—Greatest Hits
Trojan

Cecil Campbell, aka Prince Buster’s role in Jamaica, was the charismatic, street-smart, upstart thespian, MC, producer and entertainer. Buster had a unique and successful formula for making great records which involved his hustle-financing of smoking ska and rocksteady sessions, mixed with an uncanny ability to find articulate vocal commentary/narration. Credit his unusual but successful partnership with U.K. music entrepreneur Emil Shallet for this. All tracks on this crisp re-release of the 1968 Melodisc LP (with five of the right bonus tracks) are standouts. Whether you are being shaken up by the tumultuous rocksteady of “Earthquake” or serving as a juror in court of “Judge Dread” (where you witness rudeboy Adolphus James, played by Lee Perry, being sentenced to 400 years and 500 lashes for robbing his fellow brother), there is a simple, naïve charm married to titanic session work that cries out for repeated listening. Five of the six rocking bonus tracks were covered by the English 2-Tone bands of the late ’70s. Refreshing, at once timeless and charmingly dated, essential.