This week (July 7th) on Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady, we started off with a version to version to version extravaganza from Phil Pratt’s Sun Shot Label. We began the second set again with another version to version from Derrick Harriott and the late DJ Scotty, then our bouncy mento set before a long set of early Jamaican rhythm and blues that featured an early Jimmy Cliff side from Leslie Kong’s Beverley’s label called “You Are Never Too Old” to set up the spotlight on Prince Buster’s Wild Bells label.
Born as Cecil Bustamente Campbell, Prince Buster has one of my all time favorite stories about his entry into the music industry. After living with his grandmother in rural Jamaica as a boy, Buster gained an interest in music after singing in churches. Consequently, as a teenager, when he lived on Orange Street, he naturally became attracted to the soundsystem culture, particularly with Tom the Great Sebastian’s soundsystem. As soundsystems further emerged and began to compete against each other, particularly the big two, Coxone Dodd’s and Duke Reid’s, Prince Buster and his crew aligned himself with Coxone, whose soundsystem was more of an underdog in comparison to Duke’s, to provide Coxone’s dances with security. As he stuck around Coxone, Buster learned enough about running a soundsystem that he created his own, which he called Voice of the People. With his soundsystem up and ready for records, Buster was ready to begin recording his own singles, but originally before he could get to producing music for his soundsystem alone, he was asked by Duke Reid to produce records for him. Buster ended up recording 12 tracks at Feral studios, and he gave one to Duke Reid, leaving the rest to be pressed on his own Wild Bells label, which we highlighted this epsiode, beginning with Buster’s very first track as a vocalist, Little Honey, which was released in 1961.
Buster’s Group, the backing band for the Wild Bells label, included members of the future renowned Skatalites band. On drums and percussion was Arkland Parks, better known as Drumbago. On tenor sax was Dennis Ska Campbell. On guitar was Jah Jerry Haynes. On trombone was Rico Rodriguez, and on tenor sax as well was Val Bennett
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Lily and Generoso