Stone Cold Ohio

Little Axe

Released 09 October 2006

  1. If I Had My Way
  2. Jive Talk
  3. Same People
  4. Rockin' Shoes
  5. Pray
  6. Prisoner
  7. Victims
  8. Let Me Ride
  9. Trouble In Mind
  10. Blueneck Dub
  11. Hard Times
  12. Almighty
  13. No Bottom
  14. She
  15. No More Mourning

Liner notes

Little Axes’s fifth album is Stone Cold Ohio – 15 tracks of future blues – dubbed-out, dark, and smokey. It includes covers of songs by Skip James, Allen Toussaint, and Mos Def man Will Calhoun. ‘…Ohio’ traces a line from African chants, Afro-American field songs, blues, gospel, soul, funk and dub, and takes it on into the 21st Century.

Stone Cold Ohio references Skip’s home state. “Back to my roots. A reality check,” he says. Skip was born in Dayton, Ohio, one of the great funk breeding grounds – Wilson Pickett , the Ohio Players, The Falcons etc. There he learned blues guitar from his father, and by the age of 10 was already playing jazz professionally. By 12, his focus had shifted to doo-wop, and he also played in a gospel quartet. The name Little Axe is both a tribute to the Bob Marley/Wailers’ song “Small Axe” and also to Wilbur “Little Ax” Broadnax of the Spirit of Memphis gospel quartet. Gospel plays a big part on ‘…Ohio’, and Skip sums the album up as “Blues and spirituality”.

‘Stone Cold Ohio’ features Skip’s ex-Sugarhill Gang and Tackhead colleagues Doug Wimbish and Keith LeBlanc, and a cast of characters like upcoming reggae star Ghetto Priest.

Little Axe continue to play live – last time they did Robert Plant, a big fan, got up on stage and sang with them.

These are the 21st-century blues.

Listen

Reviews

  • Soulful soundsmiths, from Sugar Hill to On-U, and still exploring MOJO (UK)
  • Skip McDonald's time-traveling career has gone from cooking up the original rap revolution at Sugarhill to dubbed-up 21st century Delta blues. The fifth album from his Little Axe incarnation is an affirmation of his mission to make ancient visions thrive in a modern setting. There's euphoric gospel (Rockin' Shoes), whipcrack soul (Victims) and deep blues (Trouble In Mind), all relayed through Skip's inimitable voice and guitar. The glorious sound of history collapsing into itself. The Mirror (UK)
  • Is the blues today a grave-robbing heritage industry or a still-vital form capable of innovation? Thankfully, in the hands of Skip McDonald's Little Axe, it is the latter. 'Stone Cold Ohio' joins up the dots linking African hollers, gospel and Delta blues eeriness to hip hop, funk and techno. So while you can place Blind Willie Johnson's "If I Had My Way" alongside Toussaint's "On Your Way Down" and Mos Def collaborator Will Calhoun's "She" and genuinely wonder which came first. On-U Sound's Adrian Sherwood mixes it all into a simmering gumbo of hypnotic beats, wailing voices and shivering guitars seasoned with dub-laden apocalyptic menace. Uncut (UK)

Further Listening

  • Champagne and Grits

    Little Axe

    Released 20 September 2004

    Little Axe is the project Ohio musician Skip McDonald started in the early 1990s to reconnect himself with the blues of his childhood. His dad, a bluesman and steel mill worker, taught him blues guitar before he was ten years old.
  • Call My Name

    Daby Touré & Skip MacDonald

    Released 09 March 2009

    A mini-album that captures the magic of this unique creative union, that sees songs - some by Touré, others by McDonald - transformed via imaginative, instinctive collaboration. Crafted at Real World Studios, ‘Call My Name’ is a spellbinding record, the superlative result of focused energy, creative license and a famously pressure-free environment.

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