The mighty Prince Buster shot his way into the U.K. chart for the first time with "Al Capone" in 1967, and it would take 21 years to follow up that success, when a recut of his rude reggae fave "Whine & Grine" finally pushed the Jamaican legend back into the Top 50 in 1988. Obviously, this paltry chart showing in no way mirrored the true impact that the Prince had on the island, but does accurately reflect the prejudice that Jamaican artists and their records faced, a criminal negligence ensuring that their singles went unspun on radio and uncounted at specialty shops. Regardless, Jamaican music continued to spread, slowly seeping out of England's West Indian immigrant communities and into the British mainstream. Buster's Fabulous Greatest Hits collection arrived in the wake of "Al Capone"'s chart massacre, a phenomenal showcase of the Prince's oeuvre. The album's phenomenal influence can be easily judged by the songs covered within. "Madness" gave a group of East End nutty boys their moniker and the flip of their first single. The checkerboard heroes paid tribute to Buster himself on "The Prince," of course, wherein they name-checked two more songs found on this set -- "Earthquake" and "Ghost Dance." Up in Coventry, "Al Capone" would inspire the Specials' own debut single, "Gangsters." "Too Hot" fired up the group's live set, as did "Rough Rider" for the Beat. But long before 2 Tone brought Buster back into fashion, the draconian "Judge Dread" gave a brawny British bouncer a new name, while "Big Five" provided the impetus to record a retort, 1972's "Big Six," the first of ten hits the English magistrate would send down into the U.K. Top 50. Nearly 25 years later and an ocean away, "Hard Man fe Dead" would title an album by the Toasters, an American band fronted by an English expat as indebted to the Prince as to 2 Tone. Seminal ska, ferocious instrumentals, musical slap-downs, haunting rocksteady, rude reggae, political commentary, and even the odd romance, Fabulous Greatest Hits had it all and then some. No wonder its songs are still shaking up the music scene to this day. In its own time, the set defined Jamaican music for most white Britons -- and to a large extent, it still does.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene