No one in Reggae turns it out like Beres
He was born Beresford Hammond in
the province of St. Mary in Annotto Bay. Early on, Hammond became intensely
interested in the ska/reggae sounds of such performers as Peter Touch and
soulful singer Alton Ellis -- who would become one of the "father's" of
rock-steady music. Already a talented singer, he found himself particularly
drawn to the music of Leroy Sibbles of the Heptones and Ken Boothe, another
favorite, after Ellis, his primary influence. Though island music was his
prime inspiration, Hammond also loved the R&B, and jazz frequently
played by his father who had an enormous and varied record collection.
Beres got his own start between 1972 and 1973. His first break came when
he auditioned for a Merritone Amateur show. During the audition,
Hammond sang about a dozen songs in radically different genres; he believed
the judges liked his voice. This led him to record a soul version, in the
style of Alton Ellis, of "Wanderer." Hammond became the lead singer of
Zap Pow in late 1975. "The System," recorded on Mango in 1978, was
their known single.
While with Zap Pow, he launched his
solo career; his first solo album Soul Reggae was released in 1976
on the Aquarius label and produced by long-time friend Willie Lindo. It
was a big success. Then he recorded the ballad "One Step Ahead,"
which stayed at No. 1 for over 14 weeks. In 1978, he made "I'm in
Love," and it too became a chart topper. By 1979, the strain of performing
and recording with the group and managing his own career was too much so
he left Zap Pow. Though he had two chart hits and a top-selling album by
then, Hammond saw very little money from the sales. Eventually he cut the
album Just a Man. It did well and produced a couple of hit singles,
but again he made no money. Not wanting to continue the saturation, Hammond
again stopped recording for one year. He recorded his next album in 1981
with Willie Lindo. It was first released on Dynamics and titled Comin'
In 1985, he recorded another album,
Let's Make a Song, and then decided to start his own label,
Harmony House, just so he could always have a home base. His debut single
"Groovy Little Thing," was a substantial hit. Lindo recorded his next single,
"What One Dance Can Do," and it became one of his biggest hits not
only in Jamaica, but also abroad.
Around 1989, he and Lindo, who had
come to New York recorded the cross-over album of ballads Have a Nice
Weekend, but did not release it until after he recorded Resistance
in Jamaica. In 1990, he returned to Jamaica and went to Penthouse
Records and during the session, spontaneously created "Tempted to Touch"
-- a song inspired by the sight of a beautiful girl in shorts he'd seen
sashaying about the studio that day. It became an enormous hit in Jamaica,
New York City and even England. At long last, Hammond found himself a hot
property when the album produced several more major hits including "Is
This a Sign" and "Respect to You Baby." In 1995, Hammond
In Control on Elektra, an excellent blend of ballads, and
socially conscious reggae. Unlike most reggae heros, Beres isn't about
flinging dreadlocks and other glamour moves. This prolific and compelling
artist is about the music and nothing but. In 1996 the big hit "Love
From A Distance" on the album entitled, "A Day In the Life"
is a vibrant lyrical masterpiece with great music, wonderful songwriting,
and sensual storytelling.
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Beres Hammond, a 20 year veteran
of the reggae industry is not only a vocalist but a songwriter and producer
as well. Working with the island's top studio musicians, he purrs in the
seductive "ladies' man" fashion. He has that mellow, whiskey-grained voice
working deep, ranging from sultry & sexy at the low end of the scale
to a spiking rapturous height that can keep a crowd moving. He is one of
reggae's great soul singers though for much of his twenty years he has
only been known for the most part in his native Jamaica. Hammond's style
harkens back to the Rastafarian sounds of the '70s that center on a strong
melody coupled with socially conscious lyrics and intricate harmonies.
Check your local record shop for more
hits from Beres!