Small Axe soundtrack release for Record Store Day

Dave Randall previews the release – on Record Store Day – of the soundtrack to the Small Axe TV series

Steve McQueen (left) with Sheyi Cole who played Alex Wheatle – the Brixton Bard – in the episode of that name
Photographer: Will Robson-Scott. ©BBC

One of the most important and talked-about social histories to grace our TV screens in recent years was Steve McQueen’s landmark five-film anthology Small Axe. It was nominated in a record 15 categories at this year’s TV Bafta Awards.

Now, McQueen has teamed up with Motown Records to curate the Small Axe Official Soundtrack, which will be released on Record Store Day, Saturday 12 June.

As Steve McQueen says: “Music is an integral part of Small Axe, especially Lovers Rock. Selecting the songs was definitely one of the most fun parts of making the anthology series, so I’m really excited about the soundtrack release, especially the legendary tracks Silly Games and To Be Young, Gifted And Black performed by the brilliant Tiana Major 9 and Michael Kiwanuka.”

The original score composer for the anthology was Mica Levi who commented: “I am proud and thankful to be part of the music used in Steve McQueen’s telling of a too unknown true story.

“It goes to show that protest is an essential democratic right. It can change legislation and create visibility and equality.”

The soundtrack combines original tracks, film score excerpts, music featured in the series and four powerful spoken word pieces written by Brixton legend Linton Kwesi Johnson.

Exclusive tracks include a rendition of To Be Young, Gifted And Black by Michael Kiwanuka and a rework of Janet Kay’s classic Silly Games by R&B songstress and Motown US artist, Tiana Major9.

Janet Kay’s original Silly Games also features on the soundtrack alongside other classics including Got To Give It Up by Marvin Gaye, Pressure Drop by Toots & The Maytals and More Warning by King Tubby, Augustus Pablo & The Aggrovators.

In addition to digital formats, the soundtrack will also be available as a limited edition vinyl release with artwork direction by creative collective; Mabdulle, Tara Ung and Wwwesh Studio.

The Small Axe Official Soundtrack, released by Motown Records UK on 12 June, is now available to pre-order.

Full Tracklisting:

  • Mica LeviProtest
  • Toots & The MaytalsPressure Drop
  • Prince Far IThrow Away Your Gun
  • Linton Kwesi JohnsonNew Crass Massahkah
  • Sheyi ColeUprising
  • Marvin GayeGot To Give It Up
  • Tiana Major9Silly Games
  • Rochenda SandallDread Beat An’ Blood
  • Mica LeviOld Bailey
  • Michael KiwanukaTo Be Young, Gifted And Black
  • ImaginationSo Good, So Right
  • Junior EnglishAfter Tonight
  • Mica LeviIn God You Must Trust
  • Shaun ParkesInglan Is A Bitch
  • Janet KaySilly Games (Lovers Rock Edit)
  • King Tubby, Augustus Pablo & The AggrovatorsMore Warning