The Small Axe People – The Castle Of The Screwface
Title: The Small Axe People – The Castle Of The Screwface
Label: Small Axe People | Format: CD | Street date: November 24, 2017 | Website: Small Axe People
- Whom Do You Seek
- The Screwface
- More Than One
- What Do You Want?
- Justice And Peace
- In The The Wrong Place!
- We Have Come Far
- Go Now
- We Have Nowhere To Go
- Then Be Warned!
- Too Late Shall Be Your Cry
Despite having minimal resources, London-based reggae writer, publicist, musician and respected historian Ray Hurford is seemingly unstoppable. Besides being the writer/publisher of the acclaimed “The Small Axe Guide To…” series and his early 2017 started Small Axe Bookzines project, he’s also the brainchild and driving force behind the ‘one man band’ which unsurprisingly is named The Small Axe People.
During the past sixteen years, The Small Axe People has continuously put out albums, all recorded at Area X, a small home recording studio located in East London. All these albums consisted of 12 tracks. A remarkable, but not that remarkable fact knowing Ray Hurford’s vision when it comes to the quality of albums fully loaded with tracks. Another remarkable, but not being a real remarkable fact is that the inspiration for The Small Axe People albums comes from notable moments in Reggae’s history cherished by Ray Hurford – the concept of the “Version”, which in 1969 came to the fore with the single “Pop A Top” by Andy Capp aka Lynford Anderson; the hard to play Skank style; Augustus Pablo’s unique blend of East Asian and Jamaican sounds; and the great Now Generation sound.
The release of the albums “Skank It Up” (2009), “Skank To Skank” (2010), “Skankers Corner” (2011) and “Skankers Delight” (2014), is now followed by “The Castle Of The Screwface”, actually the Small Axe People’s twentieth album release – a major achievement. Without any doubt, this album is the best ‘Skank’ album by The Small Axe People so far. It seems so simple to create a skanking sound, but it isn’t. That’s probably why it didn’t lead to a Skank era in Jamaica. Take Tin Leg’s exceptional drumming style, Family Man’s bass play (not a bass line but a short burst of notes), Ranford ‘Rannie Bop’ Williams’ scrubbing guitar, Hux Brown’s picking guitar and Glen Adams’ creep organ sound, and you have all the necessary ingredients to create a Skank sound. It’s very much a Wailers sound, but others played it including Now Generation and Soul Syndicate – but only for a very short time.
Listening to the 12 tracks on “The Castle Of The Screwface” (preferably in a barely lighted room), the album unfolds like an intriguing soundtrack of a weird horror movie. Look at the titles of the tracks and you immediately can imagine how the story goes, the music does the rest. All tracks have a definite creepy appeal, mainly due to the organ play and at some points the inclusion of sound effects. Each track has its own merit and is an essential part of an organic whole, which for some of those who listen intensely to this collection might create a feeling of lunacy.
The Small Axe People albums have never been big sellers and that also won’t be the case with “The Castle Of The Screwface”. However this release is of interest for anyone who wants to listen to music that not only goes beyond the tried and trusted paths, but also tells the story of an innovative moment in reggae music.[No vinyl available, but as a kind of compensation for the vinyl addicts it’s good to know that the music part of the CD has a black surface)
Conclusion An album that unfolds like an intriguing soundtrack of a weird horror movie.