The Small Axe Reggae Album Guide – Deejays

by Jan 13, 2018Reviews, Writings



Authors: Ray Hurford & Joakim Kalcidis
Publisher:  Muzik Tree / I Am The Gorgon
Published: April 2009
Book: Paperback / 148 pages
ISBN: 978-91-633-4425-1

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Small Axe

From the late 1970s up till now, Ray Hurford — initiator of all “Small Axe” activities — has been responsible for some great contributions to the writings about reggae music. It all started almost 31 years ago when he put out the first issue of the Small Axe reggae fanzine on 29th September 1978, which featured big names like Augustus Pablo and Gregory Isaacs. From then until September/October 1989, when the last edition of Small Axe was released, he issued 27 volumes of the magazine. After a hiatus of some ten years the Small Axe magazine was revived, but with the internet becoming a major medium to reach out to the masses it was obvious that Ray Hurford would put a stop to issueing the paper magazine once he had set up his own Small Axe website.

Small Axe Files

Besides the Small Axe reggae fanzine Ray Hurford was also the man behind 20 issues of the Small Axe Files (1991-1992), which focused on one artist or aspect of reggae in every issue, and such acclaimed books like “More Axe”, “More Axe 7”, “More Axe 8”, “Rhythm Wise”, and “The Small Axe Reggae Album Guide – Singers”. When it comes to talking about the books, and Ray Hurford will fully admit it, the role of the late Tero Kaski shouldn’t be underestimated. He was actually the kind of person who made it all happen.

The Small Axe Reggae Album Guide – Deejays

After Ray Hurford had issued “The Small Axe Reggae Album Guide – Singers” in 1996, he started working on its follow-up “The Small Axe Reggae Album Guide – Deejays” in the same year. By 1998 he had reviewed just under 300 deejay albums and had still some 50 albums to go to finish the book. Meanwhile he and Tero Kaski published “More Axe 8”, which wasn’t exactly a success. Thus they were forced to put “The Small Axe Reggae Album Guide – Deejays” on hold. However in the spring of 2008 Ray Hurford was approached by Joakim “The Gorgon” Kalcidis who wanted to publish the “Deejays” book. It then lasted another year before the book was finally ready to go to the printer. Within 24 hours the first printing of 60 books was sold out!! A second printing of 100 books had to be done as the response of reggae fans who wanted to order the long-expected book was overwhelming.

“The Small Axe Reggae Album Guide – Deejays” features 433 album reviews in alphabetical order by artists and it covers 207 different deejays. The book also includes a deejay check list and a list of the albums in chronological order. Music is a powerful mode of communication that can evoke strong feelings and opinions, and that’s why reviews can never be pure objective. There’s always subjectivity, but it’s Ray Hurford’s cherished principle of maintaining a total independence towards record labels and artists along with his great knowledge and insight in reggae music, that sets him apart from most reviewers, even from those who have established their name through their works for well-known magazines.

Obscure Artists

“The Small Axe Reggae Album Guide – Deejays” focuses on albums by the deejays, MC’s, chatters and rappers. Not only does it contain reviews from those who have played a pivotal role in the development and history of Jamaican music like U Roy, Dennis Alcapone, Big Youth, Prince Far I, Mikey Dread, Yellowman and Beenie Man to name seven, but it also features artists whose role was less significant. It’s the inclusion of obscure artists such as Sister Candy, Super Barry, Bobby Culture, Don T, Bunny Lion and Purpleman, that gives this book its charm and makes it even more interesting than it would have been when it had only focused on the renown names.

The “Singers” and “Deejays” books have taken a lot of time and energy before they were finally ready for publishing, but thankfully Ray Hurford is unstoppable as there’s already a next book in the pipeline : “The Small Axe Reggae Album Guide – Producers”.

Note that the second printing will also be the final. So when the books are gone, they’re gone.