If I had to pick a favorite Jamaican musician, I’d go with Tenor Saw. When I went to college my freshman year, it was a Tenor Saw tape given to me by a stoner reggae dude that really got me hooked forever on Jamaican music. I had already had the taste, but it was mostly for your basics: Black Uhuru, Bob Marley, Wailing Souls, and even the cheesy, like Steel Pulse. But it was this cassette copy of Tenor Saw’s amazing album Fever that made me realize I’d be searching out this stuff for the rest of my life.
The summer after my freshman year, I moved to California and met a guy who sold dancehall cassettes at the Ashby Bart station flea market. He’d take requests, so I asked for a Tenor Saw mix, and sure enough the next week he had — what he claimed — was 90 minutes of every song Tenor Saw recorded. In hindsight I’ve figured out that he missed a bunch, but for 1990 it was a pretty impressive attempt.
I started this mix by recording every Tenor Saw song, but soon realized that was too long and easy, so I shaved it down to the essentials, or at least the songs I love. Tenor Saw died young in some kind of shady drug situation, so what there is is what we get. I hope you listen to it all and recognize what an amazing voice the guy had, and how much more there was to him than ‘Ring The Alarm’, even though that alone is more than one singer really needs.
Tenor Saw mashin’ down Crankangle: