Prince Buster

Judge Dread Featuring Prince Buster Jamaica's Prime Rocksteady

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A reissue of the Prince Buster classic, which first appeared in 1967 on the British Blue Beat label, Judge Dread Featuring Prince Buster Jamaica's Prime Rocksteady bundles up a dozen cuts, hits, instrumentals, and groundbreaking numbers from that era. Most fans' point of entry will be the "Judge Dread" trilogy, and this album is the only place to find all three numbers. With "Judge Dread," the rude boys meet their nemesis, as the magistrate establishes his fearsome reputation. On "The Appeal," the Judge reaches new draconian heights, while "Judge Dread Dance" (aka "Judge Dread Dance the Pardon") brings the saga to a close, as the rude boys are set free. Inevitably, the rest of the album pales in comparison, an unfair situation, considering the high quality of most of the songs. The haunting letter to the dead of "Ghost Dance," an homage to sound system stars of old, is certainly "Dread"s equal. "Sweet Beat" (aka "Rocksteady") is as sweet as its title, an enticement to get up and rocksteady that couldn't be ignored. Both songs were successful British singles, as was the moody "Dark Street" (aka "Dark End of the Street") and "Sharing You," an equally luscious love song, a side of Buster later compilations would ignore. Judge Dread boasts a clutch of songs that showcase the passionate Prince at his best, counterpointing the brouhaha of the Judge himself. Thus, this extremely well-rounded set provides a truer picture of Buster's output during this period: dance numbers, smoking soulful pieces, and a pair of sparkling instrumentals from his studio band, the Buster's All Stars. A welcome return for a classic album.

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