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The Wolf That House Built (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

Technically this is an Epic release, but those in the know will see Adrian Sherwood listed as producer and Skip McDonald as sole performer and understand immediately: in all but name, this is an On-U Sound production. What does that mean? It means that groove will be primary, words secondary, and overall sound will be dark and thrilling; it means that weird samples will bubble up unpredictably from beneath churning funk and reggae rhythms; and it means that a certain degree of dubwise anarchy will infuse every note. What distinguishes this album from other On-U projects is the raw material: whereas an On-U Sound album generally builds on a reggae foundation, Skip McDonald's background is in the blues, and what he has put together here is a tribute to Howling Wolf. This is a roiling pastiche of samples taken from Wolf's singing and speaking, all of them thrown into a stew of funk and reggae beats and interspersed with McDonald's own multi-tracked vocals (which will sound very familiar to fans of Tackhead and Strange Parcels, both of which were founded by him). It's hard to identify highlights here, but some of the album's especially strong moments come during "Ride On," which samples Howling Wolf's discussions of life on the road, and the primarily instrumental "Out in the Rain and Cold." Exquisite.

Biography

Born: 1949 in Dayton, OH

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Little Axe was the alias of Skip McDonald, a blues performer whose list of credits also included work on some of rap music's most influential records. Born Bernard Alexander in Dayton, OH, in 1949, McDonald learned blues guitar from his father, and by the age of ten was already playing professionally with area jazz musicians. By age 12, his focus had shifted to doo wop, and he also played in a gospel quartet; after high school, he and several friends relocated to New York City, where they formed...
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The Wolf That House Built (Bonus Track Version), Little Axe
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