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Beres Hammond and Friends

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Album Review

Beres Hammond, a reggae singer who rose slowly to prominence throughout the 1980s and 1990s, got his start in the 1970s as part of a relatively obscure group called Zap-Pow. (Hammond wasn't the only member of the group who proved destined for greater things — guitarist Dwight Pinckney would later be a charter member of Roots Radics.) This strange but ultimately satisfying collection consists mostly of Zap-Pow recordings, which are undated in the liner notes, but all partake of a reverb-heavy production style that sounds very late 1970s. Some of them, like the dreary "United" and "You Don't Understand," should probably have stayed in the vaults. But there are some gems here as well, such as the strangely affecting "Sunshine People" and the spooky "Reggae River," which sounds suspiciously like a Lee "Scratch" Perry production. Other highlights on this album come from other artists, such as Ras Dahni and David Madden's "Running Nowhere" (presented in showcase style) and the very spare and dread "Respect" from Pablo Paul. Even with the occasional clunker taken into account, this is a very worthwhile album.


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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