Madness: “The Prince” (1979)

The lads burst out on the scene by giving props to the Prince (Buster) on this infectious single.

Kronomyth 0.1: The prince is right.

A lot of so-called “new wave” bands began by posturing as punks before they found their signature sound. The Cure, The Police and XTC, for example. Madness, however, emerged fully formed on their first single. The Prince sounds like nothing you’d heard on the radio except, maybe, The Clash. This unlikely marriage of Jamaican rocksteady and English music hall is instantly identifiable as Madness, cramming a lifetime of joy into 150 seconds. (The version that appears on One Step Beyond is longer and features more saxophone.)

Referring to Madness as the B side seems a slight, since it’s every bit as regal as “The Prince.” In fact, both songs take their inspiration from the same source: Prince Buster (a.k.a. Colin Campbell, apparently). Now, Prince Buster’s original version of “Madness” isn’t as wound up as the wacky lads of Madness, but that’s what made them more fun than, say, Selecter.

A search on YouTube brings up “official” videos for both songs (including the album version of “The Prince”). I don’t recall seeing either on MTV, so I can’t vouch for their having been circulated on television (at least in the U.S.), but I will say that they’re some of the best low-budget music videos ever made.

Original 7-inch single version

A1. The Prince (Lee Thompson) (2:32)
B1. Madness (Colin Campbell) (2:25)

Old Gold 7-inch single reissue
A1. The Prince (Lee Thompson) (2:18)
B1. Madness (Colin Campbell) (2:25)

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch single in September 1979 in the UK (Two-Tone, CHS TT3), France (Chrysalis, 6172 687) and Portugal (Chrysalis, 6155 263) with picture sleeve. Reached #16 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on 7-inch single in 1987 in the UK (Old Gold, OG-9685).
The Prince 45 rpm sleeve
1987 Old Gold OG-9685 sleeve

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