Photo: David Axelrod, c. 1969, taken at Capitol Studios, Hollywood. Capitol Records Archives.
Composer David Axelrod’s essential trilogy on Capitol Records – Song of Innocence (1968), Song of Experience (1969), and Earth Rot (1970) – officially reissued by Now-Again Records.
David Axelrod (1931-2017) was producer and A&R at Capitol in Hollywood in the 1960s, working with artists Cannonball Adderley, Lou Rawls, David McCallum, among others, and the infamous group of L.A. session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew. In 1967, for Reprise Records, Axelrod composed and “ghost-produced” the psychedelic rock album Mass In F Minor under the guise of The Electric Prunes. This surprise hit earned Axelrod new audience, and the opportunity to release a string of albums under his own name back at Capitol.
His debut, Song of Innocence, is an essential ‘60s masterpiece. Celebrated as psychedelic, the birth of jazz-fusion, the harbinger of hip-hop, the album is a hybrid that no one, not even its creator, could describe.Grounded by the Wrecking Crew vets Earl Palmer (drums) and Carol Kaye (bass), Axelrod’s juxtaposition of musical elements utilizes sweeping arrangements, brass and strings in a way that no one of his era did. Song of Innocence is both violent and sublime.
Songs of Experience (1969) is the visionary composer/arranger/producer’s second album; it was recorded after the death of his beloved son Scott. Experience is an ominous affair, an album concerned with mortality and spirituality – the solitary, pastoral musings of William Blake set to the urban bombast of a full Los Angeles orchestra, with Wrecking Crew vets grounding the proceedings with dark funk.
Earth Rot (1970) set Axelrod up for his final stage as an architect of jazz fusion and ensured that his productions would help future architects of hip hop. This reissue is a gatefold 2/LP containing a bonus second album with Earth Rot’s instrumentals, never before released.
These are audiophile reissues, lacquered directly from Axelrod’s original EQ’ed master tapes at Capitol Records by Ron McMaster. Each contain an oversized, 28-page booklet that delves into Axelrod’s life and music, with never before published photos and an interview with Axelrod by Eothen Alapatt and Waxpoetics Brian Digenti.