May 21, 2016

RhoDeo 1620 Grooves

Hello, The day that the world will be confronted by President Trump is drawing ever closer and whose fault is that ? First the main stream media that can't stop talking about the man, second the Democratic party that thinks that with a business as usual candidate, even if she's female, they can win the election. Americans are fed up with business as usual. The Democratic party is missing a huge chance to secure power for decades to come, if they'd support Sanders who's program looks in many ways of that of Franklin D Roosevelt, alas the Democrats have lost their heart. Third, again main stream media that completely ignored Sanders until Clinton had secured the south, infact as far as those CNN and Fox clowns were concerned Sanders didn't exist until April this year, its amazing that with so much opposition Sanders has been able to give Clinton headaches....              

Meanwhile a different kind of blues grooves here today to cleanse those other parts of soul..

Today an artist who assumed the moniker "Little Axe" and began moving from hip hop to a form of blues that drew from an array of musical influences, including dub, R&B, gospel, and jazz  He has been working steadily as a studio musician, recording both his own blues albums, continuing to appear as a guest act on other artists' albums as well.  ... N'joy

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Providing guitars, bass, keyboards, and vocals, Little Axe is the return to the blues that Skip grew up with and learned from his father. Born Bernard Alexander on 1 September 1949, Dayton, Ohio in the USA. Skip McDonald learned to play the blues on his father's guitar from the age of 8, although by the time he was 12 years old he had opted to perform doo-wop.

But from picking up a guitar as a child, and returning to his roots with Little Axe, there has been a long twisting road. McDonald, along with bassplayer Doug Wimbish and drummer Keith LeBlanc formed the house band for the pioneering rap label Sugar Hill, providing the music for some of the most seminal records of the era by Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaata, Force M.D.'s and others. From there he worked closely with Adrian Sherwood on many of projects for the On-U Sound label, as well as spearheading the band Tackhead and working with Living Colour.

But first, back to Dayton, Ohio.

Having completed his high school education Skip left Dayton with a band called the Ohio Hustlers, which broke up not long after relocating to New York City. His first professional work as a musician began when he formed the Entertainers who toured the east coast through to the mid-70s.

He moved on to Hartford, Connecticut, and there's when he met Doug Wimbish, who played in a band called Wood, Brass & Steel. Wood, Brass & Steel recorded a selftitled album for All Platinum Records, the label of Sylvia and Joe Robinson, in 1976. Skip and Doug played a lot of music together, in clubs and colleges around New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

In 1979, three years after the Wood, Brass & Steel album, Skip and Doug teamed up with drummer Keith LeBlanc and they became the house band for Sugarhill Records, the Robinson's new label. The trio played on some of the earliest rap hits such as The Message and White Lines (Don't Do It) with Grandmaster Flash.

While they worked at Sugar Hill, LeBlanc also freelanced at Tommy Boy Records where he first met Adrian Sherwood. LeBlanc introduced his colleagues to Sherwood and the trio were persuaded to relocate in London. Upon their entry into the On-U Sound fold, the group formed a production team and, again, a house band, this time for On-U. The three participated in dozens of records on Sherwood's label.

The partnership developed and metamorphosed into a fully-fledged band, Tackhead. Though good working relationships remain to this day, the dispersion of Tackhead in the early 1990s saw Keith and Doug pursue more of their own projects and play less often togther.

For Skip the time since has seen him work ever more closely with Sherwood, both on his own projects and as a musician or guest vocalist on many other of Adrian's On-U Sound productions - such as by Junior Delgado, Bim Sherman, Dub Syndicate and African Head Charge, sometimes along side Keith and /or Doug.

Skip has been the prime mover behind Little Axe since around 1992. Under a name inspired by Bob Marley's Small Axe and gospel singer Willmer 'Little Ax' Broadnax, the debut album Wolf That House Built was a personal take on blues and dub, and was released to critical acclaim in 1994. This had followed a partial release in Japan compiled in a slightly different form and with a different title (Never Turn Back) the previous year. The second Little Axe album, Slow Fuse, was also well received. Both albums featured tabla player Talvin Singh, for Slow Fuse the gifted voices of Kevin Gibbs and Sas Bell were added.

Then it remained silent for far too long. In 2002 Skip's third Little Axe album Hard Grind became the first release for four years on Sherwood's revived and re-launched On-U Sound label with a mixture of raw blues and reggae. While Hard Grind no doubt will also draw comparisons to Moby's Play, it was Skip who pioneered the fusion of blues and electronic music with Little Axe.

In 2006 Skip McDonald released the fifth Little Axe album, Stone Cold Ohio, after Champagne and Grits (2004), the second record released on Peter Gabriel's Real World Records. This time the emphasis was on the gospel, another of Skip's old loves. The production and mixing was done Adrian Sherwood; 'gospel dub' like you never heard before. 2007 Little Axe Live And Direct was released, followed by Bought For A Dollar/Sold For A Dime in 2008. Call My Name (2009) was a side project with Mauritanian singer Daby Tour. His thusfar last studio album with the great title "If You Want Loyalty Buy A Dog" was released in 2011. As of 2016, he still tours and gigs regularly, has a loyal following and is in regular demand for session work as a guitarist.

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Little Axe is guitarist and singer Skip McDonald, but it's also much more than that. It is, in practice, a virtual reunion of the Sugarhill Gang -- the rhythm section responsible for the grooves underlying such paleo-hip-hop classics as "Rapper's Delight" and "White Lines" -- and therefore also a virtual reunion of Tackhead, the pioneering avant funk outfit that brought the Sugarhill Gang together with British producer Adrian Sherwood and vocalists Gary Clail and Bernard Fowler. In the Little Axe context, though, the focus is squarely on McDonald and on his overriding passion: vintage blues. Imagine a Delta blues aesthetic (spare, rural, and stark), and then imagine it thickened with additional instrumental layers and twisted with dubwise atmospherics, and you'll have some idea what to expect -- sort of like a posthumous collaboration between Howlin' Wolf and African Head Charge. The second Little Axe album features mostly McDonald originals, along with some well-chosen covers from the likes of Allen Toussaint, Skip James, and former Living Colour drummer Will Calhoun. But even his originals owe a deep debt to the work of his forefathers -- "If I Had My Way," for example, takes its whole chorus from the gospel classic "Samson and Delilah." Stone Cold Ohio is a real rarity: an album that can't be mistaken for anything other than blues, but that sounds nothing like any blues album you've ever heard.

Little Axe - Stone Cold Ohio   (flac 287mb)

01 If I Had My Way 4:09
02 Jive Talk 1:42
03 Same People 3:53
04 Rockin' Shoes 3:48
05 Pray 2:55
06 Prisoner 1:10
07 Victims 4:39
08 Let Me Ride 3:17
09 Trouble In Mind 3:21
10 Blueneck Dub 3:33
11 Hard Times 4:21
12 Almighty 3:41
13 No Bottom 3:45
14 She 1:53
15 No More Mourning 1:15

Little Axe - Stone Cold Ohio  (ogg   102mb)

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After nearly two decades of blues re-invention, singer/guitarist Skip McDonald has perfected his particular and peculiar metamorphosis of the form.  A massive part of the already massive Little Axe sound has always been provided by dub-king producer Adrian Sherwood, his influence so sonically pervasive that he counts as an equal collaborator. The old master-crew is assembled for these sessions in Peter Gabriel's Real World studio: bassist Doug Wimbish, drummer Keith LeBlanc and soaring singer Bernard Fowler. There are also two guest vocal spots from Jamaican veteran Ken Boothe. Less familiar, but still crucial to this album is harmonica player Alan Glen, whose stinging trills lift up nearly every song.
The feedback avenues are now beyond easy tracking, as old blues elements are channelled through fresh techniques. There are even versions of two Tackhead songs, further confusing the lineage between old-timey rural foot-clumping and shining 1980s funk-hop beats. There's a reading of the song popularised by long-departed down-home bluesman Son House: his Grinnin' In Your Face is shortened to Grinning. The album opens and closes with 50-second mini-songs, their gospel traits swirling into the heavens. Most of the remaining bulk favours a much longer six-minute average within which to slink and saunter, emanating a spellbinding aura. The distinctive Little Axe sound is a dreamy miasma, creaming up elements of funk, rock, soul and gospel. It's perpetually intertwining into a genre weave. The vocal layers build up a call-and-response thickness, and a couple of tunes even hint at ska and reggae rhythms. The cumulative slowness begins to take on the feel of an imaginary Funkadelic ballad collection. The guitars are always draped in exotic echo, held in perpetual slow motion, except for when Hammerhead gets to sludge-truckin' and Return proves itself the hardest and heaviest track. By this time, there's a beautifully sustained flotation in place.

Little Axe - Bought For A Dollar Sold For A Dime   (flac  370mb)

01 Guide My Feet 0:56
02 Soul of a Man 4:14
03 Grinning 3:27
04 Take a Stroll 3:59
05 Hands Off 0:51
06 Can't Sleep 5:19
07 Hammerhead 5:22
08 Can't Stop Walking Yet 5:55
09 Hear Me Cry 5:37
10 Too Late 5:30
11 Another Friend Gone 5:55
12 Tell Me Why 6:18
13 Return 4:42
14 When the Sun Goes Down 0:50

Little Axe - Bought For A Dollar Sold For A Dime (ogg  126mb)

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Guitarist and singer Skip McDonald has long been an anomaly in the On-U Sound stable, and that's saying something, given that On-U Sound has been the musical home to such magnificent oddities as African Head Charge, New Age Steppers, and Little Annie. What sets McDonald's work apart is the fact that it's equally deeply rooted in dubwise reggae as it is in Delta blues. If You Want Loyalty Buy a Dog finds him distilling his sound: assisted by legendary reggae studio bands Dub Syndicate and Roots Radics (whose backing tracks are a mish-mash of previously recorded material, reworked and rearranged for the album), McDonald moans and croons bluesy lyrics and plays aching slide guitar; the sound is dark and rich but strangely spare, with little of the dubbed-up craziness that usually characterizes the production style of On-U Sound producer Adrian Sherwood. The result is an album that is beautiful, gently funky, and deeply, deeply sad -- against all odds, McDonald has taken musical elements that have little in common with the blues and used them to draw out the blues' deepest essence. Tracks like "Call It What You Like" and "Keep on Drinking" are simultaneously brilliant reggae and heartbreaking blues, and "Grace" is a baffling and aurally stunning deconstruction of the gospel standard "Amazing Grace" -- is it ironic or sincere? Impossible to tell. "Down and Dirty" is the kind of eerie, open-textured dub that used to be the nearly exclusive province of the late Augustus Pablo, only here the harmonica takes the place of the melodica. There is not a single weak track on this album. It's an unusually moving and haunting document from one of the unsung heroes of American (and, oddly enough, Jamaican) roots music.

Little Axe - If You Want Loyalty Buy A Dog   (flac  302mb)

01 Song To Sing 3:19
02 Keep On Drinking 4:10
03 Come Here Dog And Get Your Bone 4:18
04 I Got Da Blues 4:12
05 Call It What You Like 3:56
06 I Ain´t Going Down 4:15
07 Grace 3:59
08 Down And Dirty 3:48
09 Seeing Red 3:46
10 Moaning And Groaning 3:32
11 Garfield Elementary 3:15
12 National Style 3:20
13 Early In The Morning 3:53
14 Where From Here ? 4:26

Little Axe - If You Want Loyalty Buy A Dog (ogg  114mb)

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Wanted Live 1996, sees Little Axe in the classic line up: Skip 'Little Axe' McDonald, Doug Wimbish, Keith LeBlanc, Adrian Sherwood, Alan Glen, Kevin Gibbs, Saz Bell and Scotty Firth, recorded on the 1996 European tour. The album, with art work by Les Clark, contains 13 timeless moments of Little Axe history. Featuring live tracks from the archives, recorded back in '96 sounding as fresh and vital now as the night they were recorded

Little Axe - Wanted   (flac 395mb)

01 On The Beat Sound 5:10
02 Hammer Head 6:34
03 Black Diamond Train 5:31
04 Stealing In The Name 5:12
05 Rain And Cold 4:49
06 Storm Is Rising 4:46
07 Soul Of A Man 4:34
08 Going Down Slow 4:51
09 Return 5:13
10 Chains 4:14
11 Ride On 5:59
12 Too Late 5:53
13 Cosmic Stomp 6:22

Little Axe - Wanted  (ogg  152mb)

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for exposing me to this Axe. I had a completely wrong picture about this stuff. At it's best this is really effective. - Kari S.