Putting Up Resistance

by: Beres Hammond

Beres Hammond's career has traveled a careening course of fits and starts. His is an all too typical Jamaican story of stardom, with a slew of smash hits but little financial reward. Unlike most artists, however, with every rip-off, Hammond stepped back and tried to work out a new plan of action to better protect his interests. Thus his music arrived in spurts, a couple of number ones, an album or so, followed by a year or more of silence, with this cycle repeating time and again. An armed robbery of his home in 1987 was the final straw, and Hammond moved to New York. He returned to the island periodically however, during which time Tappa Zukie prodded him into the studio, and eventually these sessions coalesced into the Putting Up Resistance album. Simultaneously, Hammond was also working on the Have a Nice Week End album, and it's astounding to compare the two. While Week End luxuriated in ballads, Resistance is as tough as its title. Zukie's production is as militant as ever, the beats may be dancehall-fired, but the entire set is drenched in deep roots atmospheres, and even the most ragga-fied numbers have a glorious organic quality. The album is strewn with hits, including the title track's jubilant cry of defiance, the haunting "Look fi Me Girl," and the gently, rocking "On the Dance Floor." Zukie's deft way of blending edgy rhythms with delicate musical moods continues to astonish. He uses Sly Dunbar's beats to militarize the arrangement, Robbie Shakespeare's pulsing bass and Earl "Chinna" Smith's guitar riffs to ground an organic sound, while keyboardist Clive Hunte plays both ends against the middle, conjuring up rich atmospheres or the toughest ragga styles. This is particularly notable on the gorgeous "Love on the Wire," where the sharp, clattering beats inflame the delicate quality of the arrangement. At the other spectrum is "Only the Lonely," a rich love song dropped into the center of an industrial worksite, a crash-bang styling that also infuses the deeply devotional hymnal "Give Thanks in the Morning." The original album contained eight tracks; the RAS reissue adds two newer numbers, the incredibly soulful "Give Me a Break" and the giddy "I'm in Love," the latter boasting one of Hammond's most phenomenal performances. The CD tosses on another two equally powerful numbers, the stern warning of "Heroes Die Young" and the superb sufferer's single "Distress." The original album was a timeless classic, and the additional tracks turn it into a masterpiece whose power has still yet to dissipate. ~ Jo-Ann Greene

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