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Steve McQueen's acclaimed Small Axe film anthology gets a Motown Records soundtrack release

It features an original score by Mica Levi

  • Jemima Skala
  • 22 May 2021
Steve McQueen's acclaimed Small Axe film anthology gets a Motown Records soundtrack release

Steve McQueen has teamed up with Motown Records UK for an official release of the soundtrack to his Small Axe film anthology.

The soundtrack will be released on Record Store Day, June 12.

Released on BBC iPlayer last year, the five Small Axe films explore different aspects of life for West Indians in Britain in the 1970s and 80s. They include: Lovers Rock (pictured), a film about a blues party in London; Mangrove, about Notting Hill’s landmark Mangrove restaurant and the trial of the Mangrove Seven in 1971; and Education, about a young Black boy’s struggle to keep his head up in an education system determined to leave him behind.

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The films’ soundtrack has been personally curated by Steve McQueen and features an original score by Mica Levi, spoken word pieces by legendary dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, a rendition of ‘To Be Young, Gifted and Black’ by Michael Kiwanuka and a rework of Janet Kay’s ‘Silly Games’, which featured memorably in Lovers Rock, by Tiana Major9.

It also features cast members Rochenda Sandall, Shaun Parkes and Sheyi Cole performing some of Linton Kwesi Johnson’s classic dub poems, as well as reggae classics like Toots & The Maytals’ ‘Pressure Drop’ and Prince Far I’s ‘Throw Away Your Gun’.

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Steve McQueen has said, “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.”

Similarly, Mica Levi 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.”

Find the soundtrack’s tracklist below.


Mica Levi – Protest

Toots & The Maytals – Pressure Drop

Prince Far I – Throw Away Your Gun

Linton Kwesi Johnson – New Crass Massahkah

Sheyi Cole – Uprising

Marvin Gaye – Got To Give It Up

Tiana Major9 – Silly Games

Rochenda Sandall – Dread Beat An' Blood

Mica Levi – Old Bailey

Michael Kiwanuka – To Be Young, Gifted And Black

Imagination – So Good, So Right

Junior English – After Tonight

Mica Levi – In God You Must Trust

Shaun Parkes – Inglan Is A Bitch

Janet Kay – Silly Games (Lovers Rock Edit)

Jemima Skala is Mixmag’s Weekend Editor. Follow her on Twitter

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