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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Legend: David Axelrod

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Well David Axelrod is not quit BP, but if you are familiar with his work then you can understand why I am making this post. I discovered this artist some time ago when I first started getting into searching for music online. The Dusty Fingers collection had a few tracks by Axelrod, which encouraged me to go searching for his work. Hip-Hop producers around has sampled something from Axelrod. Madlib from Stone Throw Records along with Daxid Axelrod did an interview together and Axelrod indicated he has only did one live performance
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born April 17, 1936, Los Angeles

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His father was active in radical labour union politics, and Axelrod was raised in South Central Los Angeles, where he grew up listening to R&B and jazz music. After a stint as a boxer, he found studio work in the booming film and television industry, and was soon in demand as a drummer, producer and arranger. He produced his first album in 1959, saxophonist Harold Land’s The Fox, which was seen as a landmark record showing that West Coast musicians could play top quality hard-edged jazz.

In late 1963, he joined Capitol Records as a producer and A&R man, and encouraged the label to develop their black artists. He began working with Lou Rawls, producing his successful Live album and a succession of gold albums and hit singles including "Love Is A Hurting Thing", "Your Good Thing Is About To End" and "Dead End Street", which Axelrod wrote and produced. He also began working with Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, one of the most successful jazz crossover artists of the 1960s. Axelrod produced Adderley’s 1967 album Live At the Club, which spawned one of the biggest jazz hits of the period, the funky "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy”, written by the band’s pianist Joe Zawinul, which reached # 11 in the US pop charts.

Around this time Axelrod also began working with a regular group of leading session musicians, notably Howard Roberts (guitar), Carol Kaye (bass) and Earl Palmer (drums), first using them on records by David McCallum and then used to fill out two records that were released by the Electric Prunes, Mass In F Minor and Release Of An Oath. The Electric Prunes disbanded during the recording sessions and Axelrod's team completed the albums. These used sweeping strings, booming sound and heavy beats in a way that was unique for the time and became highly influential many years later. Axelrod’s success also encouraged Capitol to allow him to produce solo albums, the first two of which, Song Of Innocence (1968) and Songs Of Experience (1969), were homages to the mystical poetry and paintings of William Blake. His third solo album, Earth Rot (1970), warned of the impact of environmental pollution and degradation.

At the same time, Axelrod continued to work with Adderley and Rawls, and with the South African singer Letta Mbulu, bandleader David Rose, and unsuccessful psychedelic groups Common People and Hardwater. In 1970, he left Capitol and over the next few years issued a rock version of the Messiah and further solo albums, as well as continuing to work with Adderley on several albums until the latter’s death in 1975. His approach fell out of fashion for a while, and three solo albums he recorded in the 1980s went unreleased.

His work as arranger and composer began to be rediscovered in the early 1990s, and to be sampled by artists such as DJ Shadow and Lauryn Hill. In 1993 he released his first album for over a decade, Requiem:Holocaust. Several compilations of his earlier work were also released. In 2000 he released David Axelrod, which used rhythm tracks originally recorded for a proposed third Electric Prunes album, with new arrangements. Dr. Dre used a David McCallum cut ('The Edge') for "The Next Episode" from 1999's 2001. Masta Ace also used a cut from 'The Edge' in his song, "No Regrets" from the 2001 album, Disposable Arts.

David Axelrod appeared at the Royal Festival Hall, London, on 17 March 2004 as part of the Ether festival where he conducted a one off performance of his solo work. He was joined on stage by Richard Ashcroft who sang Holy Are You, originally recorded by The Electric Prunes. At the end of this rare concert he informed the audience that he was suffering from ill health. In 2006, "Live at Royal Festival Hall" was released as a DVD and CD.

Axelrod signed with Blue Note Records in 2005.









Discogrpahy

Songs of Innocence (Capitol 1968)
Songs of Experience (Capitol 1969)
Earth Rot (Capitol 1970)
David Axelrod's Rock Interpretation of Handel's Messiah (RCA (1971)
The Auction (Decca 1972)
Theme From "Gumshoe" (Decca 1972)
Heavy Axe (Fantasy 1974)
Seriously Deep (Polydor 1975)
Strange Ladies (MCA 1977)
Marchin' (MCA 1980)
Requiem: The Holocaust (Liberty 1993)
The Big Country (Liberty 1995)
David Axelrod (Mo wax 2001)


4 comments:

Simon666 said...

Good stuff Selfscience.
If you're doing a discography for Blaxjive, you'll probably find most of the albums at Axography, it's a whole blog dedicated to David Axelrod and his productions. Also, I've got some of his Cannonball Adderley albums here, check "Black Messiah" , it's a killer.

jd35 said...

Thanks for posting this bio. I keep on running into Axelrod's work and didn't know much about him.

Anonymous said...

thanks u so much

Jonathan Adler said...

Axelrod actually did a funky '70s soundtrack for Cannonball, one of the original race-across-America films, one that starred David Carradine. If you watch the film, you'll hear some pretty typical funky wah-wah music, but certain sections are recognizable as Axelrod's touch. Unfortunately, the soundtrack was never released.

(BTW, Axelrod did not sign with Blue Note in 2005. They released a compilation of his Capitol material. EMI owns both Capitol and Bluenote.)

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