Soul Reggae Beres Hammond
'Soul Reggae' was a great debut for Beres Hammond's first album released in the late 70s; The album introduced us to one of the most enduring voices of modern Jamaican music. The music was very experimental and was a departure from the usual reggae menu that we were fed at the time by most reggae artists. It consisted mainly of ballad and up-tempo music and very little reggae. The album featured some of the best musicians of the time, including Willie Lindo, Ernest Ranglin, Harold Butler and Cedric "Im" Brooks.
The album was very different in other ways too, most of the songs were original written by Willie Lindo and Hammond himself. The album was never a commercial success when released, but it did enough to introduce Hammond and was critically acclaimed.
Produced by Willie Lindo for the Aquarius studio ran by the Chin Loy brothers, it marked the beginning of a long relationship between Lindo and Hammond. The two teamed up later, and Lindo produced three albums 'Comin At Ya', 'Irie and Mello' and 'Red Light' for Hammond in the eighties. He also scored his first reggae hit, 'What one dance will do'.
His follow up hit, 'She Loves Me Now', was also done on Lindo's WKK imprint. 'Soul Reggae' is still regarded as one of Hammond's best work and reminds us that Hammond belonged to a very exclusive group of Jamaican artists who are labelled soul reggae singers. Others included in this exclusive club, Tyrone Taylor, Freddie McGregor, Carl Dawkins and Toots Hibbert. Memorable tracks from the album include 'You Don't Have To Lie', 'Take Me Girl' and 'Got To Get Away'.
It was a departure for a new artist in the saturated reggae market to come out with an album filled with ballads and up-tempo songs. This collection of songs made Hammond unique for some time, and he continued the trend to score some big hit with ballads in the early 80s, e.g. 'I'm In Love' for Joe Gibbs.
Many music lovers saw 'Soul Reggae' as Hammond's best work and believed that some of his follow albums were not as smooth as 'Soul Reggae'. These experimental projects are significantly lacking these days, and no one wants to take any chance on being different. The few acts that have deviated have not gotten the kind of response from the media that one could call encouraging.