Little Axe and Moby – Discuss

I subscribe to Spotify – some of you won’t like that, I know.  I got rid of our turntable, CD player, speakers and amp and have yet to replace them, so the only way I get to play music that isn’t the radio is streaming tracks from either my iTunes library or Spotify through my Sonos.  Every week Spotify pushes a new playlist to me called Discover Weekly.  It is made up of tracks based on my listening habits – it’s how I came across Lift to Experience.  The other week a track popped up called Ride On and I thought “ooh that sounds like Play era Moby” but it wasn’t Moby, it was this guy called Little Axe and the album the track came from was The Wolf That House Built.

Play by Moby is the sort of album most people have in their record collection.  It was quite different to the work that came before it which was predominantly techno-ish club music.  Play melded a bluesy sound with electronica, it felt mellower to me than his previous work and as I’d pretty much stopped going clubbing by this time, it also felt a bit more grown up; an album you could stay in and chill out with.  For Moby it was a  breakthrough as it brought him international acclaim when it was released in 1999 (remember that year).

I think Little Axe is the stage name of musician Skip Macdonald, but I’m not entirely sure because in some places I’ve seen Little Axe referred to as a group.  Wiki doesn’t tell me much about Macdonald other than he’s worked with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five which fails to explain the awesomeness of The Wolf that House Built released in 1994 and the later album Hard Grind released in 2002.  Both albums ooze blues, jazz and dub rhythms with a hint of electronica thrown in over repeating deep south samples.  The Wolf That House Built is so reminiscent of Play and yet it came a full 5 years ahead of Moby’s seminal work.

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to fill in the gaps in my musical knowledge.  What can you tell me about all this and who else should I be tracking down?



11 thoughts on “Little Axe and Moby – Discuss

  1. I have never heard of Little Axe before. Like many people, I own a copy of Moby’s “Play” but actually playing it is something that rarely happens these days. My favourite track on it is Porcelain, probably the least bluesy one.

    Having a listen to Little Axe now and enjoying it muchly.

  2. Skip (guitar) along with Doug Wimbish (bass) & Keith LeBlank (drums) were the Sugerhill house band & appear on many early hip-hop records.

    In the 80’s the 3 teamed up with Adrian Sherwood to form Fats Comet/Tackhead & became the house band for his On-U Records label appearing on releases from everyone from Dub Syndicate to Mark Stewart.

    Little Axe is Skip’s project, which started as a tribute to Howlin’ Wolf & expanded to dub a wider range of blues tunes & is still going (I think) – “If You Want Loyalty – Buy a Dog” is the most recent

    If you like this you might want to find the ChessMoves album, where the group were given access to remix & interpret tracks from the Chess Records catalogue.

    Standing Outside A Broken Booth also pre-dates Moby as it was recorded in ’91 but not released until ’96 after showing up in a film.

    • Thanks Shoey, this explains a lot. Plenty here for me to check out too. The Chess Moves thing certainly sounds interesting, will hunt that down. Cheers.

    • Thanks to this information, I spent a happy hour this afternoon listening to Tackhead and various On-U Sound stuff. I used to listen to loads of that back in the day, and then it dropped off my radar. So, it was a nice trip down memory lane.

  3. Ah, Shoey‘s been in. He’s your resident expert this week, Sarah.

    Little Axe have featured on at least one previous DsD RR Social CD-R. As well as Hard Grind, I have the CDs of Champagne & Grits and the extended [2CD] version of Slow Fuse, which I really highly recommend.

    • I’ve dipped into the back catalogue where I can quite a lot this week. Some really nice stuff. I’ll make sure to listen to Slow Fuse again over the weekend. Thanks DsD!

  4. I’m fond of Discover Weekly and have dropped a few Earworms from things I’ve discovered on Spotify. I don’t know if you like the same sort of things as me but I’ve got lots of playlists on there, some from readers Recommend (although they are quite old now) – my user name is Alison Dempster.

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