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Album Review

Hot off the success of his smash hit "Tempted to Touch," Beres Hammond hoped to share his good fortune with old friend Derrick Lara. And together, with Richard Bell in the production chair, the men cut the split Just a Vibes album, later reissued as Expression. Lara, of course, is a member of the Tamlins, a consummate vocal trio with few numbers to its own credit, but whose gorgeous harmonies have backed a flood of other artists' successes. Lara boasts a sublime falsetto, sweet, warm, and crystalline, and it's beautifully presented on the Motown-esque "Lonely Heart" and the rich romance of "Knocking Heads." "Is It for Real" showcases his lower tones across a strong, club-flavored piece, as does "Don't Know Who to Trust," a forceful cultural number where the singer comfortably settles into the clipped style of the dancehalls. Hammond offers up equally strong material, including the hit "100% of Love," which begins with gentle demands for affection and ends in a wave of passion, while "Show Off the Road" also dips in relationships with lush melancholy. "Race of Life" and "Time Is Wasting" both offer support to those tiring of life's travails. Within, Hammond offers comfort, coaxing, pleading, and gentle reasoning across resonant lyrics delivered with the conviction and an understanding won of experience.

Only "Sorrow" brings the two men to the mic together across an exquisite, irresistible classic that chases sorrow straight out of the studio, and arguably is the strongest number on this album filled with classics. Perhaps because Hammond was unleashing so much material during this period, this split set never received the attention it deserved. That is a pity because it's a phenomenal album with both men giving stunning performances over sympathetic backings that showcase the singers at their best. The Heartbeat reissue even adds two dubs to further sweeten an already well-sugared pot.


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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Expression, Beres Hammond
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