If Bob is the King of Reggae, Dennis Brown the Crown Prince and Gregory Isaacs the Cool Ruler, then Beres Hammond is the Emperor? Well, definitely the Emperor of lover’s rock. No debating that. And more than that, he’s a living legend, a breathing relic who is to reggae what Otis Redding, Marvin, Curtis, David Ruffin or Jerry Butler are to R&B / Soul music. I’d put money on it that many babies were made to this brother’s music. And because, well, I felt like it, hit the jump for Beres’ video to Rockaway which brings back fond memories of living in VA and making the 8 hour drive from from VA Beach to NYC damn near every weekend. A nostalgic tune which will be forever rooted in my brain.
I fucking love me some Black Uhuru. Word to Keola! They defined raw, rootsy, dub reggae and Sly & Robbie murdered it on the production tip. Even better? The dub. Peace to Michael Rose (vocals on this album), Don Carlos, Junior Reid, Sly & Robbie and Duckie Simpson.
In my humblest opinion, Zap Pow’s 1972 hit This Is Reggae Music epitomizes the perfect coalescence of the bouncy rhythm of Reggae, the impassioned sounds of Soul and the unrestrained spirit of Funk. It hits the right notes, at the right times amidst a superlatively balanced blend of wah-wah guitar licks that drive the track, a filthy bassline, a string section arranged by Harry Robinson (which is usually unheard of in reggae music) and the vocal mastering of Dwight Pinkney. Although I’d love to have heard this exact song with Beres Hammond on the vocals, Dwight really does his thing, complimented with those amazing strings. God damn. Did I mention the strings? This is reggae music.
It’s hard being a digger in today’s economy. It’s even harder knowing you have a growing list of “Holy Grails” that steady increases in price, and you’re already pinching pennies to buy more records. Let’s add the cost of a jump ticket (skydiving) and wanting to save up for some fairly used gear (container, main parachute, reserve parachute, AAD, etc) which can run upwards of $2000. And that’s used gear we’re talking about. Obviously all this quasi-saving and spending leads me to a pretty mundane lifestyle, save for those days (or months) I do get to fling myself from an airplane 13,000′ up. The price we pay for pleasure though, right? Some like to splurge it on a Thai hooker and some blow. Not I. But I digress.
One record that’s up there on my “To Get” list is the very fucking rare After Laughter by Wendy Rene (of The Drapels). You know, that highly sought after 45 with the old Stax logo, flipped into the legendary Tearz. That one 45 that fetches upwards of $200 + because, well, it’s that fucking rare. So I said “Fuck it”, caved in and bought the repress. (Trust, I will get my hands on the original one day). I’ve included the re-imagined reggae cover by Belizean singer Sweet Tea up top. Peep that bassline though. Rugged and raw! Cop it here for a mere bag of shells.