A stellar collection of Beres Hammond's stream of classics for the Star Trail label, all cut during the first half of the '90s. There are a few notable omissions, no "Sugar Yu Want" or "100% of Love", but those hits are easily available elsewhere, so there's no point in complaining, especially because there are so many songs of equal caliber within this set.
Amazingly, considering the myriad of backing musicians -- Mafia & Fluxy, Sly & Robbie, the Firehouse Crew, and Computer Paul are just a few amongst this stellar crew -- and the variety of mixers, the set doesn't have that typical compilation feel. This is partially due to thoughtful sequencing, but is really a reflection of producer Richard Bell's forceful musical vision.
Although the accompaniments are all dancehall friendly, with adamant rhythms and forceful beats, Bell insures they're washed in melody and drenched in rich atmospheres, and no matter how fiery the rhythm, there's a gentle quality to the sound that beautifully showcases Hammond's own performances.
Forceful numbers, like the rebuke to the "False Preacher," the powerful warning of "Take a Tip," the adamant "Try if You Want," and "Fight to Defend It" all exude strength, and buttress Hammond's own power.
Elsewhere, Bell created lusher surroundings for the singer, as on the sultry "Come Again Tonight," wherein Hammond offers up one of his most passionate performances, or on the bass heavy throb of "Come Back Home," which proves one of his most soulful tunes. Other songs showcase more delicate qualities, like the stellar "The Way It Is," where Hammond gently spells out the facts of life over a luminescent reggae backing.
Hammond is a master of nuance, especially in matters of the heart, his lyrics clearly etching out a range of emotions and their impact, and more uniquely, the conflicted feelings one can experience, notably on "Where Were You" and "Love Gets Stronger," where his vocal and lyrical genius shine forth.
A superb collection without a less-than-stellar track within, and brilliantly encompassing the range of Hammond's themes and emotional dexterity. A must for all fans.