Prince Buster

Fly Flying Ska

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Released in 1964, shortly after "The Ten Commandments of Man" introduced Prince Buster to the white British Mod audience that would (sundry fashionable convolutions notwithstanding) lionize him for the rest of the decade, Fly Flying Ska is less a Prince Buster album than it is a handy digest to the best of his recent productions. He contributes just five vocal performances to the set, including the lazy "Lucky Seven," and the conversely punchy "Flying Ska" -- a song better known under its alternate title "Wings of a Dove" -- but also craftily utilizing the theme to the traditional "El Condor Pasa." "Call Me," a peculiarly ska-ified hybrid of girl group harmonies and abandoned yodeling, and the caustic "Eye for an Eye" follow, but the jewel in the crown is "The Greatest," a boastful Buster buoyantly out-bellowing Cassius Clay by announcing himself as the double-greatest. Woven around these gems, Owen Grey ("River Jordan"), Don Drummond ("The Burial"), Roland Alphonso ("Roland Plays the Prince"), and two vocal duos, "Millie & Roy" and "Gaynor & Erroll," weigh in enjoyably enough, while the Skatalites serve up "Perhaps," a dynamic rendering of a '50s ballad that is now best-known as the theme to BBC TV's hit show Coupling. But best of all is the Maytals' "Ska War," a number that has also seen duty as both "Broadway Jungle" and "Dog War," but which remains one of that band's hardest hitting numbers, whichever name you know it under.

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