Tenor Saw

Fever

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The introduction of the Casio keyboard to Jamaica in 1985 began a shift in reggae music that would bring about the digital era. During that time, Tenor Saw made himself a star and provided a bridge between live and digital recording. With all the skill of earlier dancehall stars like Barrington Levy, Saw used the updated digital versions of familiar riddims to become a dancehall phenomenon in a very short period of time. His hypnotic vocals floated over digital tracks, helping to deliver dancehall into the modern era. Fever, his only full-length album release during his life, is a testament to the strength of Saw's voice as well as his songwriting. The updated riddims are made fresh with simple melodies that are repeated with the smoothness of the best roots singers who came before him. Saw's take on the seminal digital riddim "Stalag" became one of the riddim's best-known versions. "Pumpkin Belly" and the title track, "Fever," are dancehall hits with melodies that were eventually used to create Saw's (and dancehall's) late-'80s signature song, "Ring the Alarm." The absence of "Ring the Alarm" from Fever doesn't diminish the quality of the package in any way. It allows for a balance to be struck and the album to play from start to finish with overwhelming consistency. "Stalag," "Sleng Teng," Joe Gibbs' "Armageddon Time," and Carlton Livingston's "Chalice in Mind" are all riddims versioned by Saw with new melodies draped over the top. Fever captures a moment in reggae history with a clean crisp singer who oversaw the massive changes that swept the genre with track after track of dancehall hits. Tenor Saw was a singer of incredible talent who honed his skills with the Youthman Promotion sound system and was able to transfer his energy in the sound clash directly to an album format. The CD release of Fever includes eight dub versions of the tracks on the album. These versions lack any vocals but are still a worthwhile companion to the original album.

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