David Axelrod

The Edge

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EMI in Great Britain reissued David Axelrod's three albums for Capitol in fine editions on both vinyl and CD at the end of the 1990s. Fantasy issued its own retrospective, The Axelrod Chronicles, in 2000. Blue Note is finally getting its act together here by taking a look at the work Axelrod did as both a producer and artist with Capitol from 1966-1970. The Edge is not perfect, but for 17 tracks it does give a halfway decent look at the wide range of projects and artists Axe worked with, despite the album's aesthetic inconsistency. Some of the most compelling of these are the tracks with actor David McCallum on vocals -- who played Robert Vaughn's sidekick Ilya Kuryakin in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. -- Axelrod produced four albums for him. "House of Mirrors," is a way tripped-out psychedelic piece with vocals Echoplexed to the max. The title cut is an instrumental that is all dreamy shimmering flute, vibes, guitars, and a horn section for drama. There is also a cut here from the South African artist Letta Mbulu, complete with a thunderstorm as an intro. Spacey, drifty, it's utterly beautiful with spare percussion and Mbulu's haunting voice sensing in her native tongue. Or course Lou Rawls is represented here with a monologue and his burning rendition of "You've Made Me So Very Happy." Axelrod himself has the lion's share of the set with nine cuts taken from his three Capitol albums, Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience, and Earth Rot. Thankfully, Cannonball Adderley is represented as well with "Tensity," from the ambitious Cannonball Adderley Quintet & Orchestra. It's not a perfect example, but at least it's here. The Edge is an okay place to start, but it's got little that will please longtime and hardcore fans and collectors. Hopefully, Axelrod's own catalog will be reissued domestically.

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