Little Axe

Stone Cold Ohio

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AllMusic Review by

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.

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