Beres Hammond – Just A Man [1979]

Beres Hammond - Just A Man [1979]

Beres Hammond - Just A Man [1979]

Sometimes, putting up an album cover on this website is just a good excuse to write about and enthuse about an album, and try to turn you on to something that will hopefully bring you as much joy as it does for me.

This is one of those times…..

Just A Man‘ by Beres Hammond was released in 1979 on Joe Gibbs Music record label, and it is basically the best soul album you’ve never heard. In fact, it is a actually a blend of soul, disco, and R&B, all played by seasoned reggae musicians.

On paper this shouldn’t work – Joe Gibbs was at the height of his powers in reggae, Beres Hammond had been recording roots reggae with Zap Pow, and the musicians featured here like Dead Fraser, Mikey “Boo” Richard, and Willie Lindo were all skilled musicians, but again they had made their name in reggae. So it probably took many people by surprise that this album came out sounding just like it did.

The music and tracks here are excellent (if a little too polished at times) and if you didn’t have any context and heard the album without knowing anything about it, then you wouldn’t guess that this was made in Jamaica by reggae artists – you’d swear it was a New York soul band from the late 1970s.

Beres Hammond’s voice is perfect for Soul music anyway, and you can tell that he is loving every moment as his vocals ooze with joy.

Beres Hammond - Just A Man [1979]

Beres Hammond – alternate cover

The album cover is a bit bland, very bland in fact – but in this case it kind of works, and the music contained within is so alive. Plus the dark cover with flashes of light lends itself well (probably unintentionally) to the moments where the music lets the disco vibe slip to the forefront – it looks like a surrealist disco dancefloor. It has a feel of one of those 12″ extended disco singles from back in the day. It did get another album sleeve on a re-release where Beres Hammond is standing in an ice-white suit in front of a Rolls Royce, which looked a bit more cheesy…..’Just A Man’ with an expensive suit and a Rolls Royce…..yeah, just a man like the rest of us Beres.

VP Records also re-released the album in 2010, retaining the original artwork with the addition of a photo of Beres in the middle – this means that the album still readily available via the usual digital channels, so you have no excuse not to check out this unique and different album from some of reggae’s great talents. Open your mind, prepare to be surprised, and hopefully have some fun.

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Leroy Smart ‎– Impressions Of Leroy Smart [1977]

Leroy Smart ‎– Impressions Of Leroy Smart [1977]

Leroy Smart ‎– Impressions Of Leroy Smart [1977]

Leroy Smart ‎– Impressions Of Leroy Smart [1977]

‘Impressions of Leroy Smart’ was released in 1977 on UK based record label Burning Sounds.

The artwork was by Tyrone Whyte, a UK based artist who was a long time collaborator with Burning Sounds, as well as creating artwork for other reggae release on other UK labels.

It is a wonderfully surreal and interesting piece of album art. The cover features a gambling table, Leroy Smart appearing in the middle of the record sleeve, and the rear oddly jumps to Leroy Smart in a spacesuit in a 2001 Space Odyssey type scene (complete with Jamaican flag on the spacesuit).

We can only assume that the sleeve is taking inspiration from a couple of tracks on the album, notably “Gambling” and “Man Of Future”.

It’s wonderful stuff, exactly the sort of artwork that we’d personally like to see more of these days.

Tracklist
Lorna
Music Is Sweet
Gambling
Jah Is My Future Guide
Don’t Let Me Down
Man Of Future
In This Time
Rasta Man
Back Out Weak Heart
You I Can’t Forget
Do You Remember
Rasta Time

We have never really been the biggest Leroy Smart fan, no particular reason other than not really taking to his voice, but the work on show here is really good. This is a deep roots album with some great productions, include a great version of Yabby You & Wayne Wade’s ‘Man of the Living‘ – re-cut here as the track ‘Rasta Man‘.

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Jacob Miller – Jacob ‘Killer’ Miller [1978]

Jacob Miller - Jacob 'Killer' Miller [1978]

Jacob Miller - Jacob 'Killer' Miller [1978]

Jacob Miller - Jacob 'Killer' Miller [1978]

Jacob ‘Killer Miller’ was first released in 1978 on the Jamaican label Jam Sounds. It subsequently got re-released a number of times, including an issue on Island Records in 1980.

All the releases kept the basic but wonderful sleeve design pretty much intact. The credit for the album sleeve goes to Judy Phillips & Claude Gayle, and shows a photo of Jacob Miller in action on the front-cover, and features a wonderful photo of Jacob Miller and Inner Circle on the rear cover in their Sunday best.

This is an incredible (and very accessible) roots album with pounding rhythms, with anthemic and militant songs that all sound like the band are having fun from start to finish.

Tracklist
A1 Forward Ever
A2 I Shall Be Released
A3 Shakey Girl
A4 80,000 Careless Ethiopians
A5 Big Stripe (To Lock Up Rasta-Fari)
B1 Killer Miller
B2 Lands Called Home
B3 Mrs. Brown
B4 City Of The Weak Heart
B5 Lambs Bread Collie

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Listen to ‘Lambs Bread Collie’ by Jacob Miller


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Jacob Miller – Wanted [1978]

Jacob Miller - Wanted

Jacob Miller - Wanted
wanted back cover
You know those guys who were always effortlessly cool no matter how they looked, and always looked like they were having more fun than you? Well that’s Jacob Miller. And it is pretty much backed up with every album sleeve he has ever appeared on.

This album came out in 1978 on the Top Ranking record label and its a collection of thunderous roots reggae songs with Jacob Miller’s vocals in fine form as they soar across the tracks.

The rear of the album cover presents the band members as fugitives on the run, and the text reads like a police ‘wanted’ poster for each of the.

Although, to be fair, at that time if Jacob Miller and the Inner Circle band had been on the run from the police, then they would’ve been easy enough to spot – they were probably the heaviest band measured in pure body-mass terms in the history of reggae. And they wouldn’t have got far running anyway.

This is a better close up of the text on the back of the album:
wanted close up

The album itself is great. As mentioned, Jacob Miller and the boys were heavy in frame, but also heavy in music and this album is full of blistering roots anthems like ‘Healing of the Nation’.

Track list:

  • Silver & Gold
  • I’ve Got The Handle
  • Standing Firm
  • Healing Of The Nation
  • Wanted
  • Sinners
  • Ital Light
  • Peace Treaty Special
  • Bionic Skank

Jacob Miller burned brightly in his short time in the music industry, and the reggae world lost a huge talent when Miller died at only 27 years old in a car crash.

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John Holt – A1 Disco Showcase

John Holt - A1 Disco Showcase

John Holt - A1 Disco Showcase

Tight afro, borderline handlebar moustache, razor-sharp trouser creases, and the rarely sighted album sleeve ‘double finger-pistol’ – it all adds up to one powerful message “YOU WILL GO TO JOHN HOLT’S DISCO”.

Released in 1980 on Taurus Records and produced by P. James, B. Walker, and D. Spear.

Not one of John Holt’s best.

Track List:

  • Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
  • How Can I
  • Bend My Love
  • No I Won’t
  • Thinking
  • I’ll Go

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