Jah Hammed – Champion Sound

by Oct 8, 2019Artist, Reviews

Jah Hammed - Champion Sound
Jah Hammed

Release Info

Jah Hammed – Champion Sound

Label:  Total Satisfaction | Format: CD-DR | Street date: September 1, 2019 | Facebook artist | Facebook label

  1. Champion Sound
  2. Finding My Way
  3. Your Love
  4. No Tenderness
  5. County Jail
  6. Your Touch
  7. Dance Nice feat. Chronicle
  8. I’m Missing You
  9. Informer
  10. Have Some Mercy
  11. Rastaman feat. Norris Man
  12. This Whole World
Heartaches & Pain

In the year 2004 we found a ‘one riddim’ album “Heartaches & Pain” from New York-based Total Satisfaction in our mailbox, an outstanding compilation set with fine vocalists delivering their goods over an updated version of a riddim known from Jah Hammed’s late ’70s tune “Heartaches & Pain”, done with the Jah Malla Band and featuring the legendary Roland Alphonso on sax. The overall quality of that 12-track selection, produced by Jah Hammed’s eldest son Leon Smillie, was the main reason for repeated listenings and the longing for more music coming from producer/musician Leon Smillie and his Total Satisfaction imprint.

Jah Hammed

For whatever reason it lasted 15 years before a next album produced by Leon Smillie could be put in the cd player for review. This time it’s a full length album by Leon Smillie’s father, veteran roots singer Jah Hammed. Towards the end of the seventies Cleveland Smillie aka Jah Hammed relocated from St Thomas to Brooklyn, New York. In Jamaica he was a member of a group called The Outer Limits, which comprised Cleon Douglas, Mikey Ranglin, Noel Alphonso, David Malcolm, Roland Alphonso, Oneil Nanco, Chilla Clarke, and Leroy Hussen. After 10 years with The Outer Limits, Jah Hammed went solo and got a hit song in 1977 with the self-produced roots song “Ordinary Natty”, which was released on the Corner Stone label in Jamaica and on Sons Of Rasta in the US. Unlike many Jamaican artists, Jah Hammed wasn’t a very prolific vocalist and thus he has only a small number of singles under his belt (for labels like Don Ruben, Jah Life Time, King, Sons Of Rasta, and Total Satisfaction) as well as two albums; “The Many Phases Of Jah Hammed” (2009) and “Real Love” (2012).


On his new album entitled “Champion Sound”, Jah Hammed is accompanied by some of the finest musicians around including Sly Dunbar (drums), Kirk Bennett (drums), Melbourne George (drums), Daniel “Axeman” Thompson (bass), Danny Bassie (bass), Robbie Shakespeare (bass), Errol “Flabba Holt” Carter (bass), Robbie Lynn (keyboards), Sidney Mills (keyboards), Winta James (keyboards), Leon Smillie (keyboards), Paul “Wrongmove” Crossdale (keyboards), Franklyn “Bubbler” Waul (keyboards), Earl “Chinna” Smith (guitars), Anndy Basford (guitars), Bongo Herman (percussion) and Jerry Johnson (sax). An estemeed list of players of instruments which reads like a ‘Who’s Who of Reggae’! They all have done a great job as each riddim track sounds very nice, a real treat for the listener’s eardrums. Also vocally Jah Hammed, who has the same kind of power in his voice like Luciano, let’s the listener enjoy his songs to the fullest, and so do the sweet backing vocals of Leba Thomas and Nikki Burt.

Lovers And Roots

Whether it are songs that deal with affairs of the heart or more roots oriented tunes, Jah Hammed is capable of sparking some real nice vibes. The great sounding title track “Champion Sound”, underpinned by a sweet sounding riddim, is in first and really gets the expectations high. It’s followed by a divine piece of a tune, “Find My Way”. Listening to this delightful lovers lament, which is sung with much emotion, gives you goosebumps. An amazing track full of heart and soul that goes on repeat as it’s one of the album’s highlights. And the nice and sweet lovers vibe created by “Find My Way” can also be experienced when listening to the matching “Your Love”. Next comes “No Tenderness”, again a love tune but now one that will appeal to fans of Big People Music – music that older fans like to listen to. It’s obvious, the lovers dominate the opening part of this album, but nothing wrong with that especially when the quality of these tunes is of such high calibre.


A real nice break comes with the ska-fueled “County Jail”, which takes the mood and vibes in a different direction, before we get two versions over the same riddim. First there’s the solid lovers tune “Your Touch” and then there’s “Dance Nice”, the combination tune with Chronixx’s father Chronicle. In the end, the latter makes the best impression on the riddim. After that the lovers feel returns with the heartfelt “I’m Missing You”, which includes subtle references to The Temptations’ “I Wish It Would Rain”. Then Jah Hammed switches back to Roots to end the album with four great tracks. The message tune “Informer” impresses throughout, while the excellent “Have Some Mercy” is on classic levels. And then the listener is treated to two bonus tracks. “Rastaman”, the wicked collaboration with Norris Man, is a worth hearing roots piece across a relick of the riddim known from Alton Ellis’ “Im Hurting Inside”. Surprisingly the final track, “This Whole World”, happens to be another (the third!) version over the riddim used for “Your Touch” and “Dance Nice”.

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