The Small Axe Guide To Reggae 68-70
Starting off in 1987, Ray Hurford — mostly in association with the late Finnish publisher and writer Tero Kaski — has issued several acclaimed reggae books including “More Axe”, “More Axe 7”, “The Small Axe Reggae Album Guide – Singers”, “Rhythm Wise” and “More Axe 8”. However for whatever reason the latter didn’t sell very well, and because you had to invest a lot of money to publish a book in those days, they were forced to put “The Small Axe Reggae Album Guide – Deejays”, the follow-up to “The Small Axe Reggae Album Guide – Singers”, on hold. It lasted until the spring of 2009 before “The Small Axe Reggae Album Guide – Deejays” was finally issued by Ray Hurford and to his surprise its first printing instantly sold out. It encouraged him to carry on and meanwhile the series of “Small Axe Guides To…” also includes Chuck Foster’s “The Small Axe Guide To Rock Steady” and Jim Dooley’s “The Small Axe Guide To Dub”.
Since 29th September 1978, the day that he put out the first issue of the Small Axe reggae fanzine, he has been promoting reggae music in all kinda forms. Anyone who has ever met and spoken with Ray Hurford will admit that he’s truly an aimable reggae enthusiast with vast knodledge and above all a strong passion for the music he loves from the day he bought his first reggae record when he was around eleven years old. The fact that he sold many of his 7″ singles to finance “The Small Axe Reggae Album Guide – Singers” says a lot about his drive and passion.
The latest publication in the ongoing series is “The Small Axe Guide To Reggae 68-70”, which has been written by Ray Hurford himself. The 200-page book focuses on the early reggae phase, the period that followed up the rock steady era. Featured are profiles of singers such as Alton Ellis, Bob Andy, Bruce Ruffin, Dobby Dobson, Ken Boothe, and Desmond Dekker, groups like The Bleechers, The Cables, The Ethiopians, The Pioneers, and The Maytals, producers such as Bunny “Striker” Lee, Coxsone Dodd, Mrs. Sonia Pottinger, Lloyd “The Matador” Daley, Harry Mudie, and Clancy Eccles, as well as bands like Beverley’s All Stars, The Dynamites, and The Hippy Boys. In most cases album reviews are part of the profiles, while also a whole heap of (black & white) photos, album covers and labels are included.
Don’t expect this “Small Axe Guide” to be complete regarding singers, deejays, producers, band, albums, singles, and compilations. It’s what it says… A GUIDE!! Nothing more, nothing less!! Also don’t expect glossy paper, professional lay-out work, faultless writing, high quality photos, etc. Negative comments on these kind of things aren’t fair, because this book is a labour of love and the costs — when you purchase it directly from Ray Hurford — are kept extremely low in order to give as many people as possible the opportunity to get a copy. The only thing that this book really lacks is an index at the back, actually a must for a ‘guide’ because it saves times in locating a particular singer, band or producer.