Friday, July 1

10 of the Best Small Ax Songs, Chosen by Steve McQueen | Steve McQueen

Small ax
The Wailers

The title melody, which was never actually in the series, mainly because we couldn’t afford it! It’s self-evident: if we all come together, we can move mountains. And if anything, that has been proven over the last year, especially with the Black Lives Matter movement, #MeToo and others. It goes very well with what was happening in the series. We, as individuals, can do great things.

Feelings of anger
Edwards Rupee

It’s in the scene where Alex Wheatle (Sheyi Cole) meets Brixton for the first time, and it’s exactly what I wanted because it’s a sense of well-being, a sense of completeness, in a place where you felt like you could be yourself. . It’s the first reggae tune we ever played, so it has to be something like that.

How can you mend a broken heart?
Al Green

I love it because it’s so deep and it’s out there. He’s on the radio in red, white, and blue when the father takes Leroy (John Boyega) to the police training center, and then he comes out and hugs him. It was them coming together as two men who have opposite points of view. As a person with West Indian parents, having your father hug you is rare.

Keep it as is
Louisa mark

What’s so interesting about rock lovers as a genre is that for men it was hugely beneficial, because before that it was kind of fair music, “Jah Rastafari!” It was a situation of almost having to be warriors within the dance. [Lovers rock] provided a moment of permissible vulnerability; the possibility of loving and being loved.

Skinhead Moonstomp

I saw it in my mom’s records and I put it on and I was like, ‘Wow!’ It blew my mind because I didn’t know, at age nine, in 1979, that skinheads were basically imitating black Jamaican kids with short hair and three-quarter pants. It is a very West Indian-British melody.

Pressure drop
Toots and the Maytals

The harmonies in this are amazing. I use it right at the end of Mangrove, when Frank goes out for a smoke and his friend says, “We could have won the battle, but we’ll see about the war.” And that was it. The Mangrove Nine was a rare victory in the narrative of the time, but it was a victory nonetheless.

Kung fu fight
Carl douglas

When I first heard it I was a kid, going crazy, jumping, hitting people, trying to be Bruce Lee. When we were doing our research, it was the novelist Alex Wheatle, whom we made [one of our] movies about, who told us it was a song that was very popular at blues parties. Amazing.

Silly games
Janet kay

Silly Games was like the anthem. Love is the most vulnerable situation you put yourself in, but the payoff for putting yourself in that situation is tremendous. Everybody is dipping their toe in the water, getting closer little by little, so “Stop playing nonsense”, just do it. Like: come on, let’s seize the opportunity. So yes, it is beautiful.

Tin Soldier
Small Faces

My mother loved Small Faces and this was from her record collection. He had a lot of the 45s that he kept on his radiogram from the 60s. When I was in school there was a mod revival, so I remembered that tune. Just the power of it, really. It is always about something; it’s working-class white angst. It’s heavy. Love it.

(Someone) help me
Beggar and company

I saw them on Top of the Pops, this huge funk band, and they were amazing. When you saw these bands on TV, everyone used to call themselves, “Oh my God, there are black people!” It was the confirmation of our existence. The sadness of this era in British music is that many of these people did not receive their dues because they were black.

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