Skank To Skank
The Small Axe People
Small Axe People
August 15, 2010

Track list
  1. Blade
  2. Jubilation
  3. Skank Alley
  4. In-Swinger
  5. Validation
  6. Link
  7. Well Vexed
  8. Kilamanjaro
  9. Bubble
  10. Shango
  11. 4-2-4
  12. Idren
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Lead Instruments : 4 Backing : 4/5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
The first Small Axe People album, "Original Version", appeared in 2001 and contained twelve musical efforts strongly inspired by Andy Capp's single "Pop A Top", a significant moment in the transition to early reggae. Andy Capp (real name Lynford Anderson) had put so much delay and non-standard sounds on "Pop A Top" that it was truly wild... the concept of the "Version" had been born in reggae. Over the next years "Original Version" was followed by more cd releases within the concept of 'Version' including "Version Wise", "Once Upon A Version", "A Portion Of Version", "V Is For Version", "The Wildest Version", "Generation Version", "Creation", and the one with veteran deejay Dennis Alcapone called "Just Version".

Then, in 2009, The Small Axe People (the brainchild of Ray Hurford, editor, owner and writer of 'Small Axe', the reggaezine that has become an institution over the years, first on paper and later on the internet) released the "Skank It Up" set. The latter contains music that doesn't completely differ from the 'Version' releases, but can be regarded as a natural progression. Now here's the follow-up, "Skank To Skank", again inspired by the funky sounds from the early '70s, when songs such as Eric Donaldson's "Cherry Oh Baby", Bob Marley's, "Duppy Conqueror", Max Romeo's "Let The Power Fall" and Stranger Cole's "Glad You're Living" ruled the dance halls. The term "Skank" refers to a rhythmic dance performed to reggae or ska music, characterized by bending forward, raising the knees, and extending the hands. But musically speaking it's a style of reggae in which the riddim is very start/stop, with the organ coming in between the bass and drum. The only thing in skank riddims that plays all the time is the lead instrument, often a 'picking' guitar.

None of the 12 tracks on "Skank To Skank" features the sound of such a 'picking' guitar (and neither did its predecessor "Skank It Up", although Ray Hurford would love to have that guitar sound), but it's solely electronic instrumentation with the keyboard playing the most prominent role. As a whole this cd is solid throughout with tracks such as "In-Swinger", "Link", the dubby "Bubbles", "Shango" and the up-tempo "4-2-4" (which refers to Ray Hurford's favourite football formation) being the highlights. Even though you won't hear any choppy electric guitar and looping bass as you might expect to hear on a 'skank' album, the sounds on this cd capture the mood and feel of the 'skank' reggae very well. This isn't an easily and instantly accessible collection of instrumentals (although it's definitely much easier to listen to than most of the tracks from the "Version" series), but for those who have ears to hear it's worthwhile checking out.

To hear it, visit The Small Axe People, to buy it, visit Small Axe People Paypal.