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Tenor Saw

 

Clive “Tenor Saw” Bright was raised in the Payne Avenue district of West Kingston. His first single, “Roll Call” was recorded in 1984 for George Phang’s Powerhouse label, on the “Queen Majesty” rhythm. He moved on, with his friend Nitty Gritty, to work with Sugar Minott’s Youth Promotion sound system and label, having hits in Jamaica with “Lots of Sign”, “Pumpkin Belly”, “Run Come Call Me”, and “Fever”. His most successful single, however, was “Ring the Alarm”, voiced over the “Stalag” rhythm for Winston Riley’s Techniques label. The singles’ success saw Tenor Saw work with Prince Jammy, recording “Pumpkin Belly” on Jammy’s (then) new “Sleng Teng” rhythm. Further hits followed in 1986 with “Golden Hen” (on the Uptempo label), and Minott issued Tenor Saw’s debut album, Fever, that year. In common with most dancehall albums of the period, most of the rhythms were digital copies of older tunes from the 1960s and 1970s, usually produced originally by Coxsone Dodd or Duke Reid. Thus, “Shirley Jones” versions Keith “Slim” Smith’s “Rougher Yet”, and “Eeni Meeni Mini Mo” versions “Real Rock” from Studio One, while “Roll Call” versions The Techniques’ “Queen Majesty” from Duke Reid, while “Lots of Sign” versions “Tonight” by Keith & Tex, produced by Derrick Harriott.

One of the most important figures in early ragga and dancehall, Tenor Saw (born Clive Bright, 1966, Kingston, Jamaica) is best-known for his 1985 hit "Ring the Alarm," a song based on the then-ubiquitous "Stalag 17" rhythm which proved to be one of the biggest — and catchiest — hits to come out of reggae's transition into the electronic age. Tenor Saw followed it up with Fever, an LP that — while it didn't contain his signature song — proved to be a minor classic of early dancehall, full of simple, catchy melodies, synthesized rhythm-section parts, and Tenor Saw's floating vocals. (The CD reissue of Fever also appended dub versions of most of the original tracks.) With such a promising start to his career, it seemed Tenor Saw would be around for quite a long time; sadly, his life was cut short in August 1988, when he was hit by a car in Houston, TX, and killed. The album Wake the Town was released posthumously in 1992.

Clive Bright (December 6, 1966 – August 1988), better known as Tenor Saw was a prominent dancehall singer in the 1980s, and one of the most influential singers of the early digital reggae era. His best-known song was the 1985 hit "Ring the Alarm" on the "Stalag 17" riddim.

Born in Victoria Jubilee Hospital, Kingston, Jamaica, Bright was raised as the fourth of six children in the Payne Land, Maverley and Olympic Gardens areas of West Kingston before the family settled in Duhaney Park. Bright had a religious upringing and sang in the Seventh-day Adventist Church of God choir in Olympic Gardens.Seeking to make it as a recording artist, Bright approached several of Kingston's producers. After being rejected by several others, George Phang gave the youngster a chance; His first single, "Roll Call" was recorded in 1984 for Phang's Powerhouse label, on the "Queen Majesty" rhythm. He moved on, with his friend Nitty Gritty, to work with Sugar Minott's Youth Promotion sound system and Black Roots Records label, having hits in Jamaica with "Lots of Sign", "Pumpkin Belly", "Run Come Call Me", and "Fever". His most successful single, however, was "Ring the Alarm", voiced over the "Stalag" riddim for Winston Riley's Techniques label.The singles' success saw Tenor Saw work with Prince Jammy, recording "Pumpkin Belly" on Jammy's (then) new "Sleng Teng" rhythm. Further hits followed in 1986 with "Golden Hen" (on the Uptempo label), and Minott issued Tenor Saw's debut album, Fever, that year. In common with most dancehall albums of the period, most of the rhythms were digital adaptions of older tunes from the 1960s and 1970s, usually produced originally by Coxsone Dodd or Duke Reid. Thus, "Shirley Jones" is based on the "Rougher Yet" riddim (named after Keith "Slim" Smith's "Rougher Yet"), and "Eeni Meeni Mini Mo" uses the "Real Rock" riddim from Studio One, while "Roll Call" versions The Techniques' "Queen Majesty" from Duke Reid, and "Lots of Sign" uses the bassline of "Tonight" by Keith & Tex, produced by Derrick Harriott.

By the time the album was released, Tenor Saw had relocated to Miami, joining the Skengdon crew, where he recorded "Dancehall Feeling" and "Bad Boys". He recorded "No Work On a Sunday" for Donovan Germain, before moving to New York, where he recorded with Freddie McGregor ("Victory Train"). His last recording, "Chill Out Chill Out", was a duet with General Doggie.

In August 1988 he was killed by a motor vehicle in Houston, Texas, with the official cause of death determined as a case of hit and run accident, although other sources insist that he was murdered. He died at 21 years of age. Tenor Saw is regarded as one of the most influential singers of the early digital reggae era of the mid-1980s.

Reggae

Ring The Alarm

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