Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,
Last week, we focused on the ska productions and recordings of Prince Buster, and this week, we are going to focus on his rocksteady output and his excellent reggae productions. By the arrival of rocksteady, Prince Buster’s stable was not as strong as it was in the rhythm & blues and ska eras. With its slower tempo, rocksteady put more focus on vocal harmonies, and as a result, the rhythm led to a rise in popularity of the vocal groups. Buster did not have as many groups on his various imprints as the other major producers, but he could still rely on the the great voices of Dawn Penn, Roy Panton, and Larry Marshall. As a result, Olive Blossom, which was Buster’s main rocksteady label, had exceptional performances and productions, but these singles were still not as popular as his earlier work
But, ever the innovator, Prince Buster did, of course, tap into the minds of his audience in the rocksteady, and he would find great success in the rocksteady rhythm when he recorded and released, “Judge Dread,” Buster’s response to the ever increasing violence caused by the rudeboys in Kingston. Here, Buster takes on the persona of Judge Dread, a court judge who deals out huge sentences to rudeboys, especially when they commit black on black violence. This led to follow up recordings by Buster, The Appeal and Barrister’s Pardon.
Buster has always had a reputation as a tough man. We know well that Buster got his soundsystem start by providing security to Coxsone Dodd’s Downbeat sound and Buster was a boxer himself, and his love for boxing resonated through his music. Generoso got a chance to speak about boxing with Buster, and we also heard an excerpt of that conversation.
On the Bovine Ska, we adore Big Youth, and, unsurprisingly, our favorite Big Youth record is produced by none other than the mighty Prince Buster. The match between Big Youth and Prince Buster was a natural one; Youth was not a deejay who only intended to spruce up tracks for dances. Big Youth told stories and included political and social messages in his lyrics and his toasting A great example of this was his first big hit, “S.90 Skank,” which Youth recorded to remind his friends to be careful when riding on motorbikes. Similarly, the track that we are going to feature as our favorite Buster production has intelligent lyrics from Big Youth, who takes cues from The Last Poets, “When Revolution Comes”