Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

The Real Cincinnati Kid

This blog’s first post is a tip of the hat to my hometown, Cincinnati, and the record label  that recorded the rhythm & blues and hillbilly bop that helped give birth to rock and roll — King Records.

In 1965 King’s most famous and influential artist, James Brown (along with The Famous Flames) ushered in the new funk with the landmark 45, “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.”  That same year Steve McQueen starred as The Cincinnati Kid, a professional gambler in 1930s New Orleans, who challenges the reigning poker champ to a big match in a film that featured music composed by Ray Charles.

The following year* saw the release of a tune also bearing the title, “Cincinnati Kid,” but musically and lyrically being something else altogether.  Instead Prince Buster, one of the leading lights of the Jamaican rocksteady sound, slyly calls out praise and respect to the “real” Cincinnati Kid – James Brown – (without actually naming him) in a particularly funky track for 1966* that clearly shows the influence of the new sound being laid down in a recording studio on Brewster Avenue (that still stands) in the Evanston neighborhood of Cincinnati across I-71 from my old high school.  The Cincinnati-Kingston connection.  There you have it – listen for yourself:

Cincinnati Kid

Prince Buster (1967)

*Both Discogs and 45Cat date the original Voice of the People 45 release = recorded with a ska rhythm = as being 1965.






Prince Buster, however, appears to have reinvigorated the song with a new rocksteady funk arrangement in 1967 that was then included on Prince Buster On Tour, an album that found release in the UK (1967) and Spain (1968) — though not in Jamaica, it seems (despite a test pressing that was done there).


Blue Beat


Recorded in live

This updated “Cincinnati Kid” arrangement was reissued in the UK again two years later on 1969 Fab album, Wanted By The Public – The Outlaw = Sung By Prince Buster (a.k.a., Queen of the Outlaws).


<Spotify LINK to Prince Buster Mix>

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7 Responses

  1. You know, I’ve been harping on what I refer to as “that Cincinnati sound” for years, mostly to glazed eyes and no reply. Finally, I got one. Good job. There you have it.

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