The Electric Prunes: Holy Are You & General Confessional
From Release of an Oath (Reprise, 1968)
David Axelrod: Holy Thursday
From Songs of Innocence (Capitol, 1968)
I’ve more or less been avoiding writing this post for weeks even though I had the songs ready to go all along. It’s not that I have nothing to say about David Axelrod – it’s the inverse. He’s a musical figure who, once you start with simple platitudes, inspires you to ramble on incessantly about how underrated and truly remarkable a musical mind he is.
Luckily, I realized I had an out: I’ve already written something more in-depth and articulate about Axelrod back in 2002, when he released his eponymous LP on Mo Wax.
Therefore, rather than run down the esteemed producer/arranger’s entire career, here’s the shorthand of the songs included here: the late ’60s was both Axelrod’s breakout point as a solo artist as well as his most, in my opinion, distinctive and moving work. The songs on the Electric Prunes’ Release of an Oath as well as Axelrold’s own Songs of Innocence possess a quality that I can only describe as cinematic, however hackneyed or obvious that observation is. Especially with “General Confessional,” which begins by melting a hole in your head with those swelling organ vamps, I imagine a scene involving a solitary car racing across the Utah desert, a plume of dust rolling behind it. Seriously.
“Holy Are You” and the incomparable “Holy Thursday” (apparently, the funkiest day of the week) are drenched in that similar quality: possessed of a majestic yet solemn quality that manages to be both reverent and imposing, like stepping inside a stately cathedral or mosque. In short, these songs awe you and make you feel like you’re in the presence of greatness.
I’ve been listening to his songs for years. Still get goosebumps.
By the way, I just found out that there will be an impressively researched and executed anthology of Axelrod’s Capitol years (this would include Songs of Innocence but not the Electric Prunes), coming out in September from Blue Note Records. This will include alternative tracks and mixes based off the original master tapes. Soul-Sides.com will bring ya’ll more information as it becomes public but definitely keep an eye out for that new compilation.