Beres Hammond has a lot of love to share, and in a time when classic lover's-rock reggae is on the wane, we should be grateful for his affection. Dennis Brown is dead, and Gregory Isaacs' voice continues to fray around the edges. That leaves Hammond as perhaps the leading reggae crooner in the world today. An argument could be made that the distinction belongs to Freddie McGregor or John Holt, but neither will be peforming in St. Louis anytime soon. Hammond will be -- and fans of honey-voiced reggae won't want to miss his upcoming gig at the Galaxy.
The relationship between reggae and soul music has always been apparent, but Hammond, whose recording career dates to the mid-'70s, blurs the distinction to nearly unprecedented levels. His "riddims" tend to be lighter and his music more polished than much of the current reggae on the market. For some fans of the genre, the result is a bit slick, but few will deny the splendor of the man's voice. Hammond has always been known for his romantic streak, but he's never been afraid to tackle socially conscious material. Fortunately for those who shy away from the politicized ranting found in much roots reggae, Hammond's smooth delivery makes even the most damning indictments sound almost sweet.