Ailing Axelrod Anthologized, Plans Live DVD
Legendary producer David Axelrod will be the subject of a new compilation, "The Edge," which spotlights his 1966-1970 tenure at Capitol Records.Legendary producer David Axelrod will be the subject of a new compilation, "The Edge," which spotlights his 1966-1970 tenure at Capitol Records. Due Sept. 13 via Blue Note, the 17-track album features 10 of the oft-sampled Axelrod's own compositions from such iconic releases as "Song of Innocence," "Songs of Experience" and the concept album "Earth Rot."
Also included are two songs he produced for actor David McCallum, another two for soul vocalist Lou Rawls and one each for Letta Mbulu, Don Randi and Cannonball Adderley. "The Edge" was compiled by Stones Throw Records general manager Eothen "Egon" Alapatt, who also unearthed previously unissued instrumentals from Axelrod, Mbulu and Willie Tee for an accompanying 12-inch vinyl release.
"Eothen chose the ones he thought should go on. He played them for me, and I thought he made good choices," Axelrod tells Billboard.com by phone from his Los Angeles home, where he is recovering from surgery to repair a torn groin muscle. The procedure has left the 69-year-old artist in constant pain and unable to work on new music for the past several months.
Axelrod's last new album was a 2001 self-titled effort for Mo' Wax, several tracks for which were built around 30-year-old acetates of material that had never been finished or released. Asked if he thinks there are similar treasures still remaining in the vaults, the artist admits, "I really don't know. But there's more than I thought. I know Universal has a lot, because I did a lot of writing for them."
Despite his frail health, Axelrod says he is hoping to stage concerts in Tokyo, Sydney and Melbourne next spring. They will be somewhat similar to a March 2004 performance at London's Royal Festival Hall, although Axelrod says, "I'm not going to do the exact same concert, so I'm going to get rid of some of the things I did there."
The London show featured everything from an opening cover of the Rolling Stones' "Paint It, Black" to cuts from "Song of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience," as well as a guest turn by Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft on the Axelrod-produced Electric Prunes song "Holy Are You." It is being prepped for release on DVD early next year via a Web site Axelrod owns but has not yet activated.
"The audience went crazy," Axelrod says of the show, with a tinge of wonder as to why his music has come back into vogue after 30-plus years. "It was startling. It was sold out. When I walked onto the stage, I got a standing ovation. I'm going, 'What the f*ck is this?' It was just so great, I burst out laughing. It just struck me so funny. I don't know why, but I couldn't stop laughing."
Here is the track list for "The Edge":
"House of Mirrors," David McCallum
"The Edge," David McCallum
"Pula Yetla," Letta Mbulu
"Lifetime Monologue," Lou Rawls
"You've Made Me So Very Happy," Lou Rawls
"The Smile," David Axelrod
"Song of Innocence," David Axelrod
"The Mental Traveler," David Axelrod
"A Divine Image," David Axelrod
"London," David Axelrod
"The Fly," David Axelrod
"Human Abstract," David Axelrod
"Warning Talk, Part One," David Axelrod
"Warning Talk, Part Three," David Axelrod
"The Signs, Part One," David Axelrod
"Theme From 'The Fox,'" Don Randi
"Tensity," Cannonball Adderley