“Big Five” by Prince Buster - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1972Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

This was Mellodisc out with their second Prince Buster LP of 1972. As with “Wreck-A-Pum-Pum” (Blue Beat BBLP-821, 1968), it’s dubiously themed around the rude reggae genre, seemingly beloved by many. Rude words are ten-a-penny and are blanked out in a variety of annoying ways with beep machines, trumpets and keyboards. Frankly, these horrific obtrusions are way more offensive than the actual expletives could ever be. The LP mostly consists of recent productions from 1970-1971, excepting the final two tracks; “Pum Pum A Go Will You” (mistitled here as “Tonight”) and “Wine or Grind” (mistitled here as “Wash The Pum Pum”), both of which are recompiled from the aforementioned “Wreck A Pum-Pum” LP in 1968.

The slack tone is set from the off on “Big Five”, a tune named directly after a hotel in Kingston, known locally as “the Fuck Shop”, which was notorious for DJs, singers and n’er-do-well rude boys to take their bit on the side. In 1970, Brook Benton popularised “Rainy Night In Georgia”, and Lord Tanamo latched on with his reggae cover. Buster’s “Big Five” is a lascivious reinterpretation of these, as “a rainy night in Georgia” becomes “a wet wet night in Big Five”: “Today I smoked an ounce of weed, tonight I am going to plant a seed in her womb alright.” Great tune but dear-oh-dear, those lyrics. And so it continues with no let up. Clearly, this is a subject close to the man’s heart. In that classic way that only Jamaicans can, the supposedly religious man serves up the hymn “At The Cross” with new lines such as “At the cross, at the cross, where I worked her in the grass, ‘til the stiffness of my dick passed away”. This one doesn’t work out too well though as “now she is nine months in the way”.

As he did with “Rainy Night”, the Prince turns to “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” for inspiration, having no doubt learned it via Roberta Flack, before producing John Holt’s 1970 reggae version. It’s retitled here as “The Virgin” and features lines such as “You should have told me, it was your first time my love, I would play around the hedge, tickle the little thing and make you sing…” His bed-sheets are blood-red by the end of the dirty deed – this is a long way from Ewan McColl’s 1962 original. Musically, the songs are all very well played, but the subject matter is a big turn-off. Who wants to hear about blood-stained sheets while they skank? There is very little inspiration on show here although, to be fair, I would doubt that Buster himself conceived these tracks as being a part of any themed LP. Tellingly, the only 2 tracks which shine as Buster tracks should, are the two oldies from ’68. It’s been a blast, but this album screams DESPERATION in the Buster story…

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:36] 6.3.png Prince Buster - Big Five (Cecil Campbell) Reggae
A2 [02:05] 6.2.png Prince Buster - Kinky Griner (Cecil Campbell) Reggae
A3 [02:32] 6.4.png Prince Buster - Leave Your Man (Cecil Campbell) Reggae
A4 [02:25] 5.9.png Prince Buster - Give Her (Cecil Campbell) Reggae
A5 [02:47] 7.4.png Prince Buster - Bald Head Pum Pum (Cecil Campbell) Reggae
A6 [02:35] 5.7.png Prince Buster - At The Cross (Cecil Campbell) Reggae
B1 [03:22] 6.6.png Prince Buster - Fishey Fishey (Cecil Campbell) Ska / Rocksteady
B2 [03:23] 5.8.png Prince Buster - The Virgin (Cecil Campbell) Reggae
B3 [03:18] 6.2.png Prince Buster - Black Pum Pum (Cecil Campbell) Reggae
B4 [02:25] 5.4.png Prince Buster - Every Man Pum Pum (Cecil Campbell) Reggae
B5 [02:29] 7.9.png Prince Buster - Pum Pum A Go Will You (Cecil Campbell) Reggae
B6 [02:25] 9.2.png Prince Buster - Wine Or Grind (Cecil Campbell) Ska / Rocksteady

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