Listen to this song by first wave ska innovator Prince Buster. It’s “Whine & Grine”, a song which was not only a signature tune for Prince Buster, but would also inspire the British ska revival in late-70s Britain.
Before there was reggae, there was ska, developed primarily in Jamaica when the local folk music was applied to an attempt at creating a local take on soul music and Motown pop. Along with Toots & the Maytals and Desmond Dekker, Prince Buster (born Cecil Bustamente Campbell in Kingston Jamaica, 1938) was a towering giant in Jamaican music in the 60s. And of course, his influence would extend across the Atlantic to Britain by the 70s, when Carribean immigrants imported ska sounds, and further inspired young Britons to form bands of their own with reggae and ska as major ingredients to the music.
This tune is a Prince Buster standard, yet the first time I heard it was on The (English) Beat’s debut I Just Can’t Stop It. Ska had become to British groups in industrial areas what American R&B music had been in the 1960s. And full of the same sexual innuendo too, with “rough riders” and “smooth strokers” a-plenty. Above all, it’s dance music, party music, meant to amuse. And in the late 70s Britain, a little bit of that was needed, with unemployment being at epidemic levels.
Prince Buster meanwhile would remain to be an active force in music, active today and venerated at the same time as one of the architects of reggae and rocksteady, and is considered to be one of the prime figureheads of first-wave ska.
For more information about Prince Buster, and more music, check out this article from The Guardian.