s/d David Axelrod

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Admittedly, I'm a big DJ Shadow fan, so I recently downloaded a track labeled as the sample from Midnight in a Perfect World. Sure enough, it was David Axelrod's "The Human Abstract" -- I dug this a lot, perhaps even more than 'Midnight'. I get the feeling that Axelrod might have some other stuff that's great, but also has the potential to be over-the-top cheesy. Any suggestions?

Hurting (Hurting), Wednesday, 27 October 2004 23:13 (seventeen years ago) link

I think he's over the top cheesy, but if you like "The Human Abstract," his first three albums should appeal to you. "The Human Abstract" is on the second one. By the third one, Earth Riot, it all gets a little hard to take.

martin hilliard, Wednesday, 27 October 2004 23:17 (seventeen years ago) link

his three best albums are "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience" and The Electric Prunes "Release of an Oath".

the prunes' "Mass In F Minor" isn't as good as release, but it's still kinda cool. not as funky.

i really love "Earth Rot" but i can see how people wouldn't like it. it's got those star trek type close vocal harmonies. there's a sample from the first mos def album on that one.

surprisingly, his new s/t album is actually really good. it was written in the 60s, and has a lot of the same players as those old records. Ras Kass's singing doesn't even distract from it that much.

he also produced a lot of Cannonball Adderly albums (and vice versa). i have "Inside Straight", "Black Messiah" and "Africa" and don't really care for any of them that much.

i used to have "Rock Messiah", "Heavy Axe" and i think "Strange Ladies" but sold them all back because i didn't really like them.

JaXoN (JasonD), Thursday, 28 October 2004 00:01 (seventeen years ago) link

i meant Ras Kass's rapping

JaXoN (JasonD), Thursday, 28 October 2004 00:02 (seventeen years ago) link

when he's on, he's totally on, but his later 70s albums get way too slick for my taste. if that's what you mean by "cheesy". i still don't get why he's filed in the Lounge section at my local store.

also, if you're into him, check out Lalo Schifrin's "Rock Requiem" and Galt McDermott

JaXoN (JasonD), Thursday, 28 October 2004 00:04 (seventeen years ago) link

Does anyone know his country album? I saw it 2nd hand but got the fear.

I have Innocence/Experience, which remind me of Leonard Nimoy in a red sports car (it's some film or other). This is a good thing, and I recommend them. I also have Heavy Axe, which is not quite so good, features female moaning and has Stevie Wonder and Carly Simon covers. It's OK though, especially if you like his 'spacious' productions.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Thursday, 28 October 2004 07:47 (seventeen years ago) link

new compilation with Lou Rawls fronted songs produced by David is wild and wonderful ..

features some truly excellent tracks

mark e (mark e), Thursday, 28 October 2004 07:58 (seventeen years ago) link

two years pass...

there's a highly entertaining interview with Axelrod on this week's The Treatment (available at kcrw.org). Sounds like a fun guy!

tylerw, Thursday, 20 September 2007 19:42 (fourteen years ago) link

Funk Inc.'s "Superfunk" is a pretty great Axlerod-produced record.

Most of the David McCallum stuff is kinda lame. "The Edge" (sampled by Dre) is a killer track though.

Romeo Jones, Friday, 21 September 2007 04:01 (fourteen years ago) link

I couldn't get into his Mo'Wax comeback album thouhg. and the new live in concert DVD just doesn't capture the awesomeness of his old stuff.

Romeo Jones, Friday, 21 September 2007 04:02 (fourteen years ago) link

eight months pass...

this hits a lot of his high points. I think I'll probably buy it later tonight before I hit the sack:


El Tomboto, Thursday, 19 June 2008 03:20 (fourteen years ago) link

we recently had a chat re the new excellent Reprise 2 cd set over here.
if you like the comp, then this should be top of your want list.

mark e, Thursday, 19 June 2008 07:50 (fourteen years ago) link

I just nabbed both volumes of the Axelrod Anthology (on Stateside) in a used bin...a little overlap with the Capitol Years set, but still essential...

henry s, Thursday, 19 June 2008 13:19 (fourteen years ago) link

and speaking of that Capitol Records collection: "The Edge", "The Fly"...were U2 fans of his?

henry s, Thursday, 19 June 2008 13:21 (fourteen years ago) link

I just nabbed both volumes of the Axelrod Anthology (on Stateside) in a used bin...a little overlap with the Capitol Years set, but still essential...

yeah same goes for the 2 cd set, 'An Exploration ..' that $tateside issued.

mark e, Thursday, 19 June 2008 13:26 (fourteen years ago) link

Giant Step's been clearing out their web store and I ended up getting that comp Tom linked for $5, worth every cent

mh, Thursday, 19 June 2008 18:55 (fourteen years ago) link

hahaha!! no it was worth twice that without the packaging I swear

El Tomboto, Thursday, 19 June 2008 19:01 (fourteen years ago) link

is this any good?

Granny Dainger, Saturday, 21 June 2008 01:29 (fourteen years ago) link

sorry granny i dont have that (yet)

but can confirm that this david axelrod production :


is fantastically off the wall 1972 psychedelic space jazz brilliance.

worth it just for the 13 minute dirty guitars-n-sax album closer, taurus.

that and the cover that is.

mark e, Tuesday, 24 June 2008 17:48 (fourteen years ago) link

Edge is great.

forksclovetofu, Tuesday, 24 June 2008 18:03 (fourteen years ago) link

four months pass...


thanks homie

jaxon, Wednesday, 5 November 2008 06:29 (thirteen years ago) link

― eman, Wednesday, November 5, 2008 12:05 AM (1 hour ago)

eman, Wednesday, 5 November 2008 06:45 (thirteen years ago) link

amaxing campaign

dmr, Wednesday, 5 November 2008 07:49 (thirteen years ago) link

an amazing multitalented musician, this guy

Pantheism F. Mohair (res), Wednesday, 5 November 2008 08:01 (thirteen years ago) link

three years pass...

good lord, the Letta Mbulu track on that Edge comp! Whoa.

tylerw, Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:15 (ten years ago) link


tylerw, Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:22 (ten years ago) link

i knew it was going to be the storm track.

that letta mbulu cover art is from a compilation that puts together both albums that axelrod made with her.

lots of amazing tracks, but this track is definitely one of the best.

mark e, Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:39 (ten years ago) link

yeah, i need that comp! otherworldly.

tylerw, Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:40 (ten years ago) link

just be warned.
as good as the compilation is, there are no other tracks that feature storms ..

mark e, Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:42 (ten years ago) link

two years pass...

Not sure how I've made it at this forum so long without ever searching out an Axelrod thread. He is my favorite music maker, by far. I've written a lot about him on my blog, though I've slowed down over the years for a couple reasons: the reissues stopped coming (and, even though I have originals of everything, without reissues there's not really any renewed interest) and I just don't have that time anymore to delve that deeply into stuff.

The older I get, the more Earth Rot makes sense. So, I guess that'd be my favorite, but Song of Innocence is so good. I hold the Pride album in very high regard as well. I don't know. It's a tough call.

I do wish Strange Ladies would get a proper reassessment. Yes, it's a lot more slick, but the tunes are just as strong as anything from the Capitol days.

Austin, Saturday, 8 February 2014 21:54 (eight years ago) link

five years pass...

going back to the live at royal festival hall set a lot recently and thinking, as a last document, how bittersweet and odd it all is. an otherwise undocumented song ('so low' — which is very good and vaguely reminiscent of the pride stuff in how it develops), two weird covers to bookend it ('paint it black' and 'norweigian wood' which is subtitled 'spanish wood'), a slew of brilliant renditions of classics (the version of 'the edge' feels very much definitive), and fucking richard ashcroft of all people. otherwise no performances of anything post-songs of experience — which i think is ultimately disappointing for me, even if it the set is more or less essential. the album is absolutely wonderful, but the dvd is almost too much for me to endure anymore. he was always so outspoken, but as behind the scenes as possible. so, to see him out front, subtly conducting, and (rightfully) taking the spotlight after so many years makes the bottom of my throat well up significantly.


nearly four years in his absence come this february. had been hoping to see a much larger reissue campaign of his post-capitol work in his wake, but alas, it hasn't happened. still waiting for that strange ladies reissue.

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Friday, 3 January 2020 00:25 (two years ago) link

his self-titled "comeback" album isn't streaming anywhere huh

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Friday, 3 January 2020 18:00 (two years ago) link

without getting too much into it, his kids are very protective of his back catalogue. there isn't much out there about it, but that's the long and short of it.

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Friday, 3 January 2020 18:02 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

axelrod-produced gimmicky awesomeness from 1967—


brothers and sisters — "the ali shuffle"

would love a boxset of Axelrod productions thats all about such tracks.
so many one-offs, several of which are on the talcum soul compilations that $tateside released back when it was a thing.

mark e, Wednesday, 20 July 2022 17:54 (three weeks ago) link

that would be pretty much a dream come true for me. so much of that stuff hasn't even been reissued.

really love the sunshine pop one-offs he was involved with. the moorpark intersection's only single was not only produced by axe, the b-side was a typically yearning and moody original tune called "yesterday holds on." seek it out. the a-side is an amazing cotton candy bastardization of hippies. i can just just imagine the early 'yellow submarine' faux psychedelic cartoon video that could have accompanied it:


have probably mentioned this elsewhere, but one of my most top rated things from the axe archives is the self-titled 1970 album by the purposely plainly named band pride. his music has always given me visions of beautifully barren landscapes, places that are maybe not always safe. like siberia, death valley, chernobyl, australian outback, etc. but never more than on pride. it's a totally different sound for him, despite having most of the same musicians from his capital sessions. except there's only one vocalist and no strings, horns, piano - none of that (although, yep there's vibraphone because of course there is). instead filling out the sound is this amazing combination of nylon string acoustic and 12 string guitars. the cliche is that 12 string=chimey, and that's okay. but this is like anti-chime. it's a thing that only he seemed to be able to do.

the singer is nooney ricketts, the guy affiliated with arthur lee. he's got this eerie drone of a style and it works perfectly (though definitely attributed to axe's arrangement, nooney's voice also just *works* for me in this mode). i guess it has kind of a folk-rock sound?

the fucking breakdown @ 1:35. goat.



(pride - "a hope" [1970])

oh yeah the pride album is on spotify, but nearly impossible to find because of its basically anonymous name. if you are so compelled.

it's also been repackaged with the electric prunes stuff. xpost to catalogue music having the same impact as contemporary music. that was the first time i heard that material, but had known about it for at least 5 years previous. originals were pretty much gone before axe revival became a thing, so even now that album only feels about 10 or 15 years old to me.

kind of annoyed because i just uploaded the one album by nat adderley jr's mid 70s righteous funk band natural essence - only to have youtube tell me it would not be able to be seen by anyone because of copyright issues. but if it's not available to hear anywhere else, WHY!?


album is wild as hell. smooth political soul one track, firey herbie hancock mwandishi style fusion the next. then maybe filter that through a west coast version of the 24 carat black album. heck, there's even a curtis mayfield cover. not everything hits, but rad stuff - and i get the feeling it was a real family affair: cannonball and nat sr trying to start something new.

axe receives an official sleeve credit, but it really doesn't sound his style at all. still a really interesting piece of the bibliography. unfortunate that whoever holds the rights apparently doesn't want it heard very easily. of course it's been reissued on cd in japan. i have it archived from a bootleg reissue vinyl from maybe 2010s hmu iykyk

(also i'm extra salty rn because my upload of the [unrelated to axelrod] maria toledo album earned my gargantuan youtube channel off 110 subscribers a copyright strike unless i removed it. genuinely: fuck whoever did that. it was up for months with people being nice to each in the comments. PEOPLE LIKE IT. MAKE IT AVAILABLE GOD DAMMIT.)

(oh yeah: the last song on the natural essence album has a very pleasingly pretentious title: "had no beginning, has no end : simply is" - their tribute to on the corner.)

okay last thing of the oddball axe-affiliated stuff for now-

kind an obvious one? the super dope lounge album he did with don randi. pop song covers, sappily-mic'd piano that does nothing but riff on themes, and earl + carole kaye just fucking killing it the entire time. arrangements are very vintage 69 axe- but it's a bit lighter, of course. no "mental travelers" or "sick roses" here - the closest it comes is on his darkly romantic arrangement on the now famous track "the fox":


i first heard the album ~2002, so that little piece of that song hit me as hard as i think music possibly can on a person's first listen. i had no clue what i was about to hear when i bought that album for like 50 cents on ebay. not kidding: i remember thinking, "this guy is basically giving me the album if i pay postage." i don't know how well known it was at that time that the sample came from a fucking don randi record - but holy smokes. pretty significant moment.

rest of the album is good fluff. great cover of "mrs robinson" to kick things off, too. if you like the silly gary mcfarland style 60s easy listening sound, it's very hip; much more seriousguy face tho, because it's seen through the mind of a guy who was a former heroin junkie, failed boxer, failed drummer, but was inexplicably a very successful record producer for a short time. idk if you can hear the whole thing anywhere online. it's worth it if you dug the cheesier side of axe.

footnote: it was around that time in late 1969/early 1970 his youngest son died of a heroin overdose. big oof, but also makes all of the music he did then even more remarkable imo.

ta for the reminder re Pride.
i keep forgetting about that.
was weird how that was added to the 2cd set of Electric Prunes set, but hey, i am not complaining, at least its available.
unlike a proper clean version of 'The Auction'.
unless that has been reissued and i have missed out ?
i have a scratchy vinyl rip, and would love to have that album on cd/clean digital.
weird how it has never had the same love as his other solo albums.

mark e, Thursday, 21 July 2022 18:34 (three weeks ago) link

I’ll always associate Axe with GTA IV

calstars, Thursday, 21 July 2022 18:44 (three weeks ago) link

xps Austin thanks for mentioning Pride, I hadn't listened to that album in years. Such a foreboding and haunting, yet groovy vibe throughout. Visions of barren landscapes OTM. "The Death of Juan Diaz" makes me picture a western that takes place in the wasteland on the cover of Earth Rot.

Speaking of which, Pride doesn't bowl me over like Earth Rot--the environmentalist-zombie-cult choirs on that one are some of my favorite vocals on any record, and the arrangements are God-tier--but Pride is a really cool, stripped-down/introspective exploration of his singular aesthetic

J. Sam, Saturday, 23 July 2022 03:26 (three weeks ago) link

yep, earth rot is definitely one of those 'singular' albums that probably would have sounded weird regardless of when it was made. i have warmed up to it a lot over the years. here's a fun fact: all of his capitol albums were supposed to sound like that with the vocals. there's no strings on earth rot because the choir is singing those parts. if you know william blake and axe's first two albums well enough, you can sort of guess how some of the parts may have gone.

unrelated to everything: this song has always seemed mildly axelrod-ish to me. don't know much about the influences at the time, but came out of the exact same scene, so i would imagine there was tons of cross-pollination happening-


the association - "the time it is today" (1968)

Yeah, that Association song is pretty Axe-like, uses the same types of chords he was into (major 7ths, various suspended chords, etc.) and the bass and drums have that same Wrecking Crew-adjacent sound. I get the same vibe from "Wichita Lineman"

J. Sam, Saturday, 23 July 2022 17:40 (three weeks ago) link

if you ever wanted to hear axe's two mca albums from the late 70s in full, here ya go.

(also more copyright shenanigans: i got dinged for 2 claims on this video — both of which came from goobers that sampled the axelrod records. if i'm understanding the way this works correctly, those folks will potentially see ad revenue money from this video. kinda sorta definition of bullshit.)

ミ💙🅟 🅛 🅤 🅡 🅜 🅑💙彡 (Austin), Saturday, 30 July 2022 21:21 (two weeks ago) link

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