David Axelrod was a producer, arranger and A&R at Capitol Records in Hollywood in the 1960s, working with artists Cannonball Adderley, Lou Rawls and David McCallum amongst others, alongside the infamous group of L.A. session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew. In 1967, for Reprise Records, Axelrod composed and "ghost-produced" the psychedelic rock album Mass In F Minor under the guise of The Electric Prunes. This surprise hit earned Axelrod a new audience, and the opportunity to release a string of albums under his own name back at Capitol.
1968's Song of Innocence is this weird hybrid that no one, not even Axelrod himself, could ever really describe. The listener is pulled in by his melodies, simplistic at first blush, but colored by odd chord progressions and turn arounds, grounded by the drummer Earl Palmer and Carol Kaye's funk, torn between the juxtaposition of musical elements – a jazz vibraphone solo here, a fuzz guitar tear here, a nod to the baroque in Don Randi's clavichord comps – and put at ease, always, by Axe's arrangements, which utilize brass and strings in a way that no 1960s arranger did.
It's worth noting that there are really count-on-your-hand examples of anything that might even be compared to Song of Innocence. Perhaps Arthur Verocai's self-titled and only artist album, issued on the Brasilian Continental label in 1972, or the collaborations between Serge Gainsbourg and Jean Claude Vannier, which found their epitome in 1971's Histoire de Melody Nelson. But even these albums, superb, in any thinking music fan's canon of the best from this era, perhaps in their lives - and perhaps in line with Song of Innocence - are one-offs. Axelrod's Song of Innocence set in path a series of artist albums on Capitol and other labels and influenced the world countless times over, from The Verve to DJ Shadow to Madlib to J.Dilla.
Remastered from the original tapes in a new transfer, with extensive liner notes and unpublished photos.