As the ska sound developed some of the key artists began to search for true African roots within their musical journey. Artists such as Roland Alphonso and Prince Buster began to make a handful of tunes which took the ska form in new directions evoking the imagined sounds of ancient Egypt and Morocco, the spice caravans and Islamic North Africa.
These tracks seem to me to have been a personal search for an African heritage and a yearning for roots which they began to find in the sounds of the Bedouin and the vast sands of the Sahara. The chord structures take on Eastern forms whilst remaining true to the Ska sound, which they had made his own. Flute, trumpet and sax solos shimmer like a mirage in the hot sun whilst the shuffling off-beat skip of Ska transforms, becoming more insistent as Cleopatra herself shimmies a sultry belly dance.
In ‘Islam’, Prince Buster draws a parallel between Moses’ escape across the Red Sea with the black man’s escape across the water to the homeland of Africa. It’s a call to escape the travails of slavery and an incantation to part the waters so the tribe can return to it’s homeland.
Magic Star, by Roland Alphonso evokes the journey of the wise men by camel across the deserts of the middle east. Laden with frankincense and myrrh, these kings of their own destiny search with Alphonso for a deeper understanding and learning of the world at large.