THE AX IS BACK


Lou Rawls: You’ve Made Me So Very Happy
From You’ve Made Me So Very Happy (Blue Note, 1969)

David Axelrod: Human Abstract
From Songs of Experience (Capitol, 1969)

Both featured on The Edge: David Axelrod At Capitol Records 1966-1970.

Not like he ever really disappeared off of anyone’s radar screen but David Axelrod’s making quite the comeback of late. Not only does he grace the latest issue of Wax Poetics but as we noted in our last Axelrod-related post, Eothen “Egon” Alapatt (Stonesthrow) has compiled and re-mastered a selection of different productions from Axelrod’s prodigious years spent at Capitol Records in Los Angeles.

Let’s be candid here – the fact that it’s limited only to Capitol means that some of Axelrod’s best work doesn’t appear: his production for the Electric Prunes, his later ’70s output for Polydor and MCA, etc. Also, I am really curious as to why “Holy Thursday” (which was recorded for Capitol) is absent on this anthology considering that it’s one of Axelrod’s most celebrated (not to mention sampled) compositions. This said, the material on here is still stunning, whether you’re an Axelrod junkie from way back when or a newcomer to his material.

I for one had totally forgotten how good Rawls’ version of “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” is, especially with that soulful piano melody at the beginning; it adds a whole new dimension to the song, alongside the vocal accompaniment. I also love how they bring it back in after the last bridge. A remarkable production and arrangement.

As good as that is though, “Human Abstract” goes so much deeper (how deep? Seriously deep). The song builds a slow burn with a simple acoustic piano melody that quickly becomes the song’s core refrain, playing itself over and over on keys and later, strings: the effect is both melancholy and mesmerizing. The song is also a showcase for Carol Kaye’s distinctive bass work and she’s plucking her way throughout. All these elements flow into the solemnity of the track; the song feels like heavy rain in the summer.

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