Little Axe: Stone Cold Ohio (Virgin) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

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Little Axe: If I Had My Way
Little Axe: Stone Cold Ohio (Virgin) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

Little Axe is guitarist/singer Skip McDonald who first came to attention as a member of the Sugar Hill Gang, the house band for Sugar Hill Records which released such classic rap tracks as Grandmaster Flash's The Message.

McDonald went to England and joined Adrian Sherwood's On-U Sound crew and was a member of the innovative Tackhead which threw blues, dub, reggae and hip-hop into the cauldron. His albums under the Little Axe name have been very blues-based and on this exceptional album (with Tackhead's Doug Wimbush and Keith LeBlanc again in the line-up) McDonald offers his take on menacing rural blues, draws on the gospel and work-song traditions, and keeps old soul close to his heart.

The result is an album which is deeply spiritual and ancient-sounding, but also comes off as contemporary as they pull in dub echoes and urban beats. McDonald uses material by Allen Toussaint and Blind Willie Johnson, but also nods to war and the dollar in If I Had My Way which is as contemporary as tonight's news.

This is persuasive 21st century blues which dips into the past but finds its own voice rather than trying to simply recreate the music of old.

Haunting.

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Martin - May 24, 2009

Little Axe came to me initially with The House ... album of which I still play perhaps a decade later.A memorable swampy bluesy affair studded with Skip's sultry guitar work.Stone Cold Ohio is a quite different sounding album to that one.I guess a covers album of unique and as Graham mentioned in his review ancient, slightly haunting music.Rockin Shoes is a standout with a lush vocal over a gorgeous chorus as he sings `I know my name's been signed by the angels'.Skip creates an intimate bed utilising Le Blanc and colleagues to sharpen them beats.A curiously titled `No Bottom',another fave, is of course extremely bottom heavy swathed in bass.A B.Alexander penned both tracks notably.So another satisfying ,memorable interlude with the mighty Axe.Long may he wield.

Jeremy - Jun 9, 2011

Finding an album as great as this, even from 5 years ago, is what Elsewhere is all about. An incredible marriage of modern and ancient. A unique and glorious sound. And your review absolutely nails it. Thanks Graham

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