Skip McDonald’s “Too Late,” written for his Slow Fuse record (1996), warns of our planet’s fragility, and cautions “don’t let ‘too late’ be your cry.” Today (re-released on 2014’s Bought for a Dollar, Sold for a Dime), the song serves as an environmental anthem, a reminder to our greedy, climate change-denying leaders that “YOU CAN NOT EAT MONEY.”
Little Axe …
Skip McDonald (Guitar)
Bernard Fowler (Vocals)
Doug Wimbish (Bass Guitar)
Keith LeBlanc (Drums)
Adrian Sherwood (Mix)
Skip “Little Axe” McDonald, born Bernard Alexander, 1949, in Dayton Ohio, first played and sang gospel in church, and developed an interest in jazz and doo-wop before, as a teenager, leaving, with a band of friends, for New York City. Calling themselves The Entertainers, Skip and his band played clubs in the city until 1973 when he joined a funky, dance band out of Hartford, Connecticut called Wood Brass & Steel.
………..Wood Brass & Steel was signed to (Sugar Hill Records founder) Joe Robinson’s Platinum label, and in 1979, after recording two albums, the band broke up and Skip, bassist Doug Wimbish, and drummer Keith LeBlanc were tapped by Robinson to be THE ORIGINAL SUGAR HILL RHYTHM SECTION.
………..In three short years, Skip, Doug, and Keith proved to be what many believe to be the Godfathers of Hip-Hop … playing, recording, and writing many of hip-hop’s first hits, including “Rapper’s Delight,” “White Lines,” “The Message,” and many others considered anthems today.
………..After playing and producing on the legendary “Miami Vice” soundtrack and Artists Against Apartheid’s (I Ain’t Gonna Play) “Sun City,” Skip, Doug, and Keith fled the tyrannical rule of Joe Robinson, winding up in London where they met producer Adrian Sherwood, with whom they formed an Industrial Funk band called Tack>>Head.
………..With English front men Gary Clail, Mark Stewart, and later American Bernard Fowler, the band, fueled by it’s always virtuosic and over-the-top live performances, quickly developed an underground cult fowllowing. English fans included musicians Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, Annie Lennox, and Seal, all of whom the band later collaborated.
After a number of Post-Punk, Electronic (12″) singles with Clail and Stewart, and two critically acclaimed albums (“Friendly As a Hand Grenade” and “Strange Things”) with Bernard Fowler, Tack>>Head dissolved in 1992, and the band mates, although still together, followed Skip’s dramatic change of direction.
………..It was then that Skip took the “Little Axe” moniker, and with all his Tack>>Head, funk, electronic, and ambient style in tow, turned back toward his roots.
………..He called the result a 21st-Century Blues, Dub, Gospel Crash. The sound, as Tack>>Head had been, was experimental and electrically charged, but to both listeners and critics’ pleasure remained musical, melodic, and was always melodic, groove heavy, and with a danceable beat.
………..In the summer of 2006, Little Axe went into the Real World Studios on Peter Gabriel’s estate just north of London, England, to record what became Stone Cold Ohio. This short promotional video was produced to coincide with the release of what was the band’s fifth record.
A Taste of Little Axe
The band also headlined Real World Records’ 30th Anniversary party, celebrated later that weekend. Watching the show with Gabriel was friend Robert Plant, who was so impressed, he asked Gabriel to join him to play an encore set with Little Axe. After 35 minutes, playing a number of Genesis and Led Zeppelin tunes, Plant asked Little Axe to open for his band’s West Coast American Tour later that Fall (2006).
A number of the tracks recorded that summer were held until their inclusion on Little Axe’s 2010 release, Bought for a Dollar, Sold for a Dime.
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