- Beres Hammond
What's more irie than three reggae artists, all equally capable of headlining their own venues, joining together for one bang-for-your-buck concert? From the vintage sounds of the late '60s to modern-day legends, Jamaica's Wailing Souls, Marcia Griffiths, and Beres Hammond have held major hits on the top of the charts for more than 35 years.
Like many up-and-coming Jamaican youths of the '60s, Marcia Griffiths got her start singing backup at Jamaica's infamous Studio One, widely regarded as the island's own Motown. Early in the next decade, she scored on her own for that label, with hits such as "Melody Life" and the self-penned scorcher "Feel Like Jumping." By 1974, she was singing backup for Bob Marley and stayed with him until his death in 1981. She released the triumphant Indomitable album in the mid-'90s, and she remains popular in reggae's dancehall phase.
The Wailing Souls also cut their teeth at Studio One in the late '60s. As early reggae transmuted into roots, they adapted effortlessly, both by updating old material like "Row Fisherman Row" into the new roots style and by crafting new classics, such as "Bredda Gravalicious." They continued to record essential cuts for many of the island's top producers into the '90s. Even after the quartet pared down to the essential duo of Winston "Pipe" Matthews and Lloyd "Bread" McDonald, it retained an unsurpassed roots-reggae edge. Last year, it rejoined forces with producer Coxsone Dodd, proprietor of Studio One, resulting in the full-length release Square Deal, the Souls' best-sounding album in years.
Beres Hammond didn't make his first recordings until the mid-'70s, but he has since become one of Jamaica's top stars, chalking up more local hits than even Marley himself. When the dread sounds of the '70s gave way to the more secular sounds of dancehall, Hammond adopted a loverman persona, which more comfortably fit his laid-back crooner's delivery. Hammond's popularity remained elusive off the island until reggae's digital renaissance of the mid-'80s. "Tempted to Touch" and "Putting Up Resistance," like his many tasteful hits, have become classics, revered by both modern dancehall fans and lovers of the classic sounds of the '70s.