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 Annotto Bay, in the Jamaican province of St. Mary. Hammond grew up listening to his father's collection of American R&B (Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, etc.) and jazz, and also fell in love with native Jamaican music during the ska and rocksteady eras; his primary influence was Alton Ellis, and he also listened to the likes of Peter Tosh, the Heptones, and Ken Boothe. Hammond wrote and recorded prolifically in the '90s, and produced fairly consistent results. Sweetness appeared in 1993 on VP, and 1994 brought In Control, a set on American major Elektra that was geared toward the international market. VP distributed his 1996 Harmony House album Love From a Distance, which made him one of the most popular lovers rock artists around, and Heartbeat handled the 1997 follow-up Getting Stronger. 1998 brought A Day in the Life... on VP, after which Hammond took a few years' break from his frantic recording pace. In the meantime, several compilations were released, including Jet Star's Reggae Max and Forever Yours (the former a hits retrospective, the latter focusing on his lovers rock material). Hammond returned to the studio in 2001 for Music Is Life, which featured a guest spot from rapper Wyclef Jean. Love Has No Boundaries was released in 2004 on VP Records, and included guest spots by Buju Banton and Big Youth, among others. A Moment in Time appeared in 2008 and featured the hit "Picking Up the Pieces." His 2012 effort, One Love, One Life, was split into two discs, one dealing with love while the other focused on social issues. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi