Prince Alla

Bosrah

Song Review by

Those familiar with the biblical story of King Melchizedek may mistakenly believe that Prince Alla is paying tribute to that most esteemed of regal priests. Their confusion is understandable, though, for roots artists often give a Rastafarian twist to a Biblical verse, in Alla's case, Hebrews 7:3. The Old Testament held up Melchizedek as the quintessential priest and the most righteous of religious men, but listeners learn more of him from the apostle Paul, who told the Hebrews that Melchizedek was also a "king of peace, without father, without mother, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life...abideth a priest continually." Although Alla paraphrases this verse, he's not referring to the King of Salem at all; in fact, he's actually paying tribute to Prince Edward Emmanuel. This Rastafarian elder was leader of the Bobo sect to which Alla belongs, and had often drawn parallels between himself and Melchizedek. Tapper Zukie was thoroughly impressed with the Prince's homage. Just out of his teens, the young DJ was eager to cross into production, and "Bosrah" was to become one of his first recordings. The toaster and singer set to work at the Black Ark studio, with Lee Perry stepping in to help with the arrangement. Alla's preaching is suitably bold, while behind him Roy "Soft" Palmer and Melodian Tony Brevett add their own strong, close harmonies. The fabulous riddim is a fiery version of Burning Spear's "Joe Frazier," which Zukie would remix for his own In Dub album. the Prince's single, credited to Ras Allah & the Prophets, was originally released in Jamaica by Vivian "Yabby You" Jackson, and then by Zukie's own Stars label, before being picked up for U.K. consumption by K&B Records.