Various ‘Our Favourite Songs Beres Hammond Sings’ 2CD (VP) 4/5

Singer-songwriter Beres Hammond has enjoyed a long and distinguished career, starting off in the early-mid 1970s with roots band Zap Pow, and then gradually progressing into more soulful territory as a solo artist. What has possibly been forgotten about his career is the extent to which his hit songs have been self-composed. This new tribute album seeks to put the record straight and in the process showcases a number of up and coming new singers from Jamaica, It was a self-titled Willie Lindo mid-1970s album that attracted Hammond’s singing craft to the strictly soul audience and here a trio of numbers from the classic album are reworked. Of particular note is the lovely take on ‘One step ahead’ by Nadine Sutherland and ‘If only you know’ by Hezron while the harmonies on ‘Groovy little thing’ interpreted here by Taurus Riley impress above all. The soulful take on ‘Love from a distance’ by Luckie D incorporates the ‘I’m so in love’ riddim. On ‘Reggae calling’ Marcia Griffiths offers up a typically bubbly and indeed rootsy performance. Of all the reworkings, by far the most radical is the spaced out ‘Step aside’ by Tessane which here is transformed into a distinctly dance feel number and effective at that. The majority of the productions are by Donovan Germain, though on ‘Emptiness’ by Jah Cure Fatis Burrell takes over production chores to good effect. Overall a faithful and successful celebration of the Beres Hammond songbook.

Tim Stenhouse