Maia The Toad Fever Review

Maia The Toad – Fever – Review

Maia The Toad: Fever Single Review by Mr Topple for

What happens when you take an industry-standard track and mix two classic interpretations of it together? You get Maia The Toad’s latest release.

Fever, released via RuffCompany Records, sees Maia partially take on the Horace Andy/Studio One interpretation of this classic track – courtesy of producer Errol ‘General Smiley’ Bennett. However, we’re getting two for the price of one, here – because she also brings in the Peggy Lee version.

To begin with, the musical backdrop from Bennett is based around the Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd version – but with some excellent, additional orchestration. The base rhythm section is pretty much authentic to the original. Keys run a stuttering, staccato bubble rhythm throughout the track – keeping it pacey and moving forwards. The bass runs a drop-beat riff which persistently skips the third of every bar, while running the original melodic arrangement. Drums keep the one drop, albeit with the hi-hats running a rhythmically different riff and some additional percussion thrown in for good measure.

However, Bennett has moved the sound further forward, too. There’s a brand-new horn arrangement included, which weaves in and out across the track bringing some laid-back, lilting interest but with nice attention to detail in terms of the staccato delivery and fairly complex melodic arrangement – including some nice use of dynamics. Bennett also incorporates some Dub-style breaks across the track, bringing light and shade where before there was little.

Althea Hewitt’s background vocals have been particularly well-arranged – using interpolations of Andy’s original (the ‘woahs’ that were at the start used here as a backing device). They also include new material to complement Maia’s vocal – varying between call and response and straight harmonisation. Hewitt is one of the most assured session vocalists working in Reggae – and she pulls Fever’s backing line off with aplomb.

And that’s it for the Andy/Studio One version – because what Maia then does brilliantly is take Lee’s interpretation as the base for her vocals.

This is no mean feat, considering firstly the chord progressions of the Andy/Studio One version are completely different to the original – yet Maia manages to make the melody work excellently. Secondly, Lee’s sultry, lilting version is also a million miles away from the Reggae interpretation. Yet here, Maia maintains the brooding nature of Lee’s while giving her vocal a sufficient wind to fit with the stuttering arrangement. Moreover, she traverses the swaying, peaking and troughing melody exceptionally well – hitting every note, and adding some of her own for good measure. It’s an impressive performance and shows Maia’s ability to transcend genres and styles.

Overall, Fever is superb work from all involved. Bennett has enhanced the Coxsone arrangement, Maia has blended that and Lee’s version impeccably – and the track is simply brilliant.

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Maia The Toad Fever Review by Mr Topple / Pauzeradio PR Services (22nd January 2024).

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