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Reggae Max

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Album Review

So many huge hits has Beres Hammond unleashed, so many crucial songs has he recorded, that a single-disc compilation can never do justice to this great singer. Thankfully, there are quite a number of collections to choose from, some concentrating on a single producer, others culling from one or two; Reggae Max, however, is more sweeping in its scope. As this is a budget-priced set, the money went into the music, not the packaging, but at least the set does identify the labels from which the tracks originated, although it eschews dates and producers. Never mind — the songs themselves are really all that matters. The majority of the compilation is drawn from the mid-'80s through the early '90s. Thus, listeners get Hammond's debut self-release, 1985's "Groovy Little Thing," the hit that put Harmony House on the map. The Willie Lindo-produced "What One Dance Can Do" arrived that same year — another hit, and one of a number of crucial Lindo cuts featured within. "Settling Down" arrived soon after, another smash for Hammond's own label. Later in the decade, the singer recorded the Putting Up Resistance album for Tapper Zukie; that smash set's title track and the spinoff single "Strange" are also included, and both were huge hits. But as big as they were, his work with Donovan Germain turned out to be even more groundbreaking. As the '90s dawned, "Tempted to Touch" topped the charts, and became the biggest-selling single of 1990. More hits from Penthouse followed, and another three are included here. Hammond now began graciously cutting singles for a myriad of other producers, as well as continuing to self-produce and release his own records. From the exceptional Phillip "Fatis" Burrell-overseen "Preacher Man," through a clutch of magnificent numbers for Richard Bell's Star Trail, to his own self-productions, Reggae Max rounds up 20 fabulous numbers that all fans should have in their collections. A superb set that encompasses culture and romance with equal delight.


Born: 28 August 1955 in Annotto Bay, St. Mary, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most underappreciated reggae artists of his time, Beres Hammond was something of a throwback during his '90s heyday: a soulful crooner indebted to classic rocksteady and American R&B, one who preferred live instrumentation and wrote much of his own material. Hammond specialized in romantic lovers rock, but he also found time to delve into light dancehall, conscious roots reggae, hip-hop fusion, and straight-up contemporary R&B. He was born Hugh Beresford Hammond on August 28, 1955, in...
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