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Plinth's Top Tracks from Steve McQueen's Small Axe

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Plinth's Top Tracks from Steve McQueen's Small Axe

Reggae throbs through Steve McQueen's mesmeric anthology series Small Axe, as constant as a pulse. From impromptu steel pan street parties to acapella lovers rock, music is a vital part of McQueen's project, which traces the Black British experience from the 1960s to the 80s. Scroll down for a curated list of Plinth's favourite tracks so far.

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Still from Small Axe: Lovers Rock. BBC/McQueen Limited/Parisa Taghizadeh. Photographer: Parisa Taghizadeh © McQueen Limited

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Still from Small Axe: Lovers Rock. BBC/McQueen Limited/Parisa Taghizadeh. Photographer: Parisa Taghizadeh © McQueen Limited

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Still from Small Axe: Lovers Rock. BBC/McQueen Limited/Parisa Taghizadeh. Photographer: Parisa Taghizadeh © McQueen Limited

1) Silly Games, Janet Kay

An iconic scene in episode two, one for the cinematic history books, sees the dance floor at a 'blues party' singing 'Silly Games' acapella. Here's the queen of lovers rock herself singing her hit song on Top of the Pops in 1979

2) Kunta Kinte Dub, The Revolutionaries

The 'blues party' crescendos with a testosterone-fuelled freak-out to this thunderous instrumental track from The Revolutionaries

3) He's the Greatest Dancer, Sister Sledge

Absolute crowd-pleaser

4) So Good, So Right, Imagination

You'll catch Leroy Logan (John Boyega) playing this lost gem in the car in episode three, Red, White and Blue. It's from the 80s. Can you tell??

5) Money in my Pocket, Dennis Brown

Another one from the Top of the Pops archive. Dennis Brown began his career in the late 60s when he was only 11 years old. He went on to record over 75 albums and become one of the major stars of lovers rock

6) Baby My Love, The In Crowd, Jah Stitch

Not sure what to make of these spectral manga characters dancing on a mixing desk in this fan-made video I found while searching YouTube. On balance, I think I love it? In any case, it's a timeless, soothing song

7) Long Long Time, The Versatiles

Another almost-lost gem, from 1969

8) 54-46 That's My Number, Toots & the Maytals

How could we leave this one off the list? And here's a charming black and white video of Toots & the Maytals playing the song live in 1975. Toots Hibbert's energy is truly infectious

9) Got to Give it Up Pts 1&2, Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye never fails to bring people together... so it goes in episode three

10) Finally, the song that gives the series its title: Small Axe, Bob Marley

Ziggy Marley performed his father's song earlier THIS YEAR - that's right, back in February before the world flipped on its head - at the Bob Marley 75th Celebration in Los Angeles, 'You are the big tree, we are the small axe'

And that really is just the tip of the iceberg. You can read a review of the series here

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Still from Small Axe: Mangrove. BBC/McQueen Limited/Des Willie. Photographer: Des Willie © McQueen Limited

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Still from Small Axe: Lovers Rock. BBC/McQueen Limited/Parisa Taghizadeh. Photographer: Parisa Taghizadeh © McQueen Limited

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BBC/McQueen Limited/Parisa Taghizadeh. Photographer: Parisa Taghizadeh © McQueen Limited

By Sammi Gale

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