So, as I was already a fan of Mos Generator, I was naturally aware of the musical talents possessed by Tony Reed who handled guitar, vocals, and production duties. When Stone Axe, a Reed side project appeared on the horizon, my radar immediately pinged. Over the course of time, I picked up a few of their releases and dug the heavy indulgence into all things ‘70s, from dirty riffage, to tripped out lyrics and groove-laden tunes.
Dru Brinkerhoff thunderous pipes were certainly a great selling point for me, and when married to some awesome songs and solid as the rock of Gibraltar playing by Reed, who manned the drums and bass as well as the guitar duties, we had a real treasure on our hands. But as things go, after treading the boards for a few years and with a plethora of releases to their name, the guys put Stone Axe up on a block and threw a tarp over it. I don’t recall ever hearing a reason (or maybe there wasn’t one; it just ended when it did for no reason whatsoever), but they left a healthy legacy.
Zip forward a decade, and lo and behold, Stone Axe have hit us with a new album. Admittedly, it’s old recordings (some unreleased, some from more obscure releases) refurbished and ready for mass-production. And I’ve gotta say, Stay Of Execution has definitely got some gems to offer those of us who wish to relive the glory days of the band.
With its nitro-charged drumming and some pure riff-rock fury, Fell On Deaf Ears is straight outta the gate, a monster rock song. Brinkerhoff does his best Leslie West and Reed’s guitar leaves zilch on the table. Bassist Tony Reed more than ably matches drummer Tony Reed, going shot for shot until the end.
Lady Switchblade sees a shift in gears and Stone Axe slip into stealth mode. It’s a sultry kinda tune, with the grooves functioning as the soundtrack to a sordid tale of love. The emergence of a slight Dire Straits mood, if Dire Straits were capable of ever sounding as though they weren’t bored to death and wishing they were somewhere (or ANYWHERE!) else creeps in, but in the end, they manage to keep it classy.
Brinkerhoff does his best Leslie West and Reed’s guitar leaves zilch on the table…
Deep Blue and For All Who Fly hit a slinky lounge vibe. Haunted by the drunken ghost of Sinatra whilst (presumably) Reed tinkles the ivories and Brinkerhoff croons, the slow cruise spaces out the heavy rock ‘n’ roll ‘tude on display with most of this set. Yeah, I can just imagine the rat pack slouched in a ’58 Caddy and they’re gonna drive right to the moon with these two tunes blasting from the radio!
Metal Damage (you should see the damaged bronze!) hits us right between the eyes with its bad-arse blues-rock attack. Brinkerhoff hits a tone not unlike Rose Tattoo’s Angry Anderson, although not quite as screamy but ya get the point anyway. Closing number, The Last Setting Sun is an eight-minute slow-burn ballad. Filled with some filthy guitar at the hands of Reed, and with Reed’s empathetic drumbeat ebbing and flowing throughout and some lush strings filling out the back end of the song.
Stay Of Execution is a cool look back on the band. It’s well worth a listen if you’re already a fan and should appeal to any newcomers who happen across it. Being a long time spaghetti western fan, the outlaw vibe of the cover also called to me and I’m just waitin’ on Clint to put a bullet through the rope!
Scribed by: El Jefe