Thursday, 22 September 2016

He sold the heat

Somehow I missed the news that Prince Buster died a fortnight ago. Another for the reaping of 2016. Here's a more than serviceable obit.

Like a lot of people my age, I first got into Prince and ska as a result of Madness. They loved him - they took their name from one of his songs (Madness, obviously), they covered him (One Step Beyond) and even had their breakthrough hit with a song about him (The Prince). If you liked Madness, as I did (and still do), then it stood to reason that you would investigate Prince Buster. So when I saw a cassette copy of the album pictured here, deep in the Woolworths' bargain bin for 99p, I was intrigued. The Mod imagery on the sleeve drew me in further - it seemed out of place to my teenage brain but this was before the internet and I lived in small-town East Kent, so I had no way of knowing how popular the Prince had become with scooterists. Anyway, I bought the tape and immersed myself in songs about Orange Street, Al Capone, Judge Dread and more.

Some years later, I went to see Madness at day two of Madstock, their seminal reunion at Finsbury Park. Morrissey was due to support but was (in)famously bottled off on day one, so cancelled his day two appearance. I was gutted - if I'm honest, Moz had been more of a reason for going than Madness, much as I loved the Nutty Boys. But all was well, for Prince Buster graced the Madstock stage, and I felt like I'd seen a little bit of history. If memory serves, Ian Dury was also on the bill - I know, right?! Not even Gallon Drunk and Flowered Up could spoil the show.

Anyway, enough old-man reminiscence - here's a song, Barrister Pardon, in a live performance from Later that also featured the late Rico Rodriguez. The Prince was nearly 70 when this was recorded - how cool was he? Enjoy.


  1. Now that was indeed a gig and a half. Can't recall going to any others that featured on the Richter scale and scared the life out of the locals!

  2. For me, the fact that 30,000 people knew all the words to all the Madness songs, turning it into the biggest communal singalong I've ever experienced, was a big factor in making it so special.