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David Axelrod

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David Axelrod Song of Innocence album cover
4.27 | 37 ratings | 5 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 1968

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Urizen (4:01)
2. Holy Thursday (5:32)
3. The Smile (3:26)
4. A Dream (2:30)
5. Song of Innocence (4:33)
6. Merlin's Prophecy (2:44)
7. The Mental Traveler (4:02)

Total time 26:48

Line-up / Musicians

- David Axelrod / vocals
- Gary Coleman / vocals
- Gene Estes / percussion
- Freddie Hill / trumpet
- Howard Roberts / guitars
- Carol Kaye / bass
- Richard Leith / trombone
- Arthur Maebe / horn
- Lew McCreary / horn
- Ollie Mitchell / trumpet
- Earl Palmer / drums
- Vincent DeRosa / horn
- Don Randi / keyboards

Thanks to windhawk for the addition
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Buy DAVID AXELROD Song of Innocence Music

DAVID AXELROD Song of Innocence ratings distribution

(37 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(51%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

DAVID AXELROD Song of Innocence reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars A musical genius coming from the orchestral jazz.

I don't know much of David Axelrod other than what wikipedia and of course PA say. I went to this album from the Electric Prunes, and this is totally different from what I was expecting. This is orchestral music, mainly coming from orchestral jazz but highly contaminated by the American psychedelia of the 60s. The production and the sounds are in advance respect to the 1968, but what is really amazing is the composition.

He doesn't have anything less than more acclaimed contemporary authors. "The Smile" is a jazz symphony that also Gershwin would applaud to.

Then the member's musicianship is remarkable. Earl Palmer, recently passed over, at the drums and Carol Kaye (no relation with Tony) at bass guitar. Look at her page on wikipedia to have an idea of who she was and listen to this album to have an idea of her skill. (And to some Frank Zappa albums lineup).

All the tracks are equally good. The opener "Urizen", likely inspired to William Blake, is where the psychedelic influence is initially evident, other than in the kaleidoscopic mandala of the cover design, while the title track is totally symphonic. All of them contain jazz elements with frequent bass and drums solos, short and non- invasive. I'm amazed of the bass in particular. How it works together with the orchestra. The only similar thing I can think to is Caravan and New Symphonia, but this is music written for the orchestra, not just arranged.

I haven't mentioned the guitar, yet. Howad Roberts was a master of jazz guitar and on this album he spaces from the clean jazz sound to Hendrixian acid distortion.

The closer is remarkable. It starts psychedelic, also with a sitar, but the conclusion is totally orchestral.

Is it a masterpiece? for me yes.

Review by Warthur
4 stars A brief tour of psychedelia-tinged jazz-rock, David Axelrod's Song of Innocence is aptly named, because it exudes a naive charm that contrasts with the intriguing experimental agenda of the album. Axelrod's work here parallels Frank Zappa's own proto-fusion work of the era, in the sense that both artists were unafraid to inject a little unpretentious pop into proceedings; the distinction is that whilst Zappa's pop sensibilities tended to focus on the doo-wop of his youth, Axelrod was much more in tune with the lush baroque pop of this era. The end result is a fine pop-progressive release whose short running time can be forgiven for the sheer level of consistency on display.
Review by Sean Trane
4 stars A good 60's LA Scene record producer with some good New Orleans contacts, Axelrod is best remembered for his production of The Electric Prunes' two proggier albums, including the stunning Mass In F Minor and Release Of An Oath and his Cannonball Adderley collabs. Indeed, the man was not just behind the mixing console, but also wrote some of the music and arranged the pieces he hadn't written. Based on William Blake's Song Of Innocence, this first album is simply an awesome concept instrumental music album, mixing jazz, rock and classical realms with astounding arrangements and impeccable virtuosity. Indeed, most of the players on this album wouldn't ring a bell to most progheads, the best-knowns being Mac Rebbenack (AKA Dr John) and Leon Russell, but the rest of them being obscure studio musicians, some from the New Orleans scene. But let that not distract you, because all of them are awesome, such as Earl Palmer's inventive drumming, Carol Kayes' superb bass playing (she must've been the best female bassist for decades >< she's on Beach Boys' Good Vibrations). The horn and string sections are ever-present, but never overly so, the first hailing from the local jazz scene and the latter from LA's philharmonic orchestra. BTW, this album chronologically precedes TEP's Mass album.

The relatively-short (27-mins) album's music is clearly progressive in many 'prog' facets, including frequent tempo changes and time sigs, constantly changing musical soundscapes (despite remaining samey-sounding via the recurring theme), with brilliant histrionics solos, from the guitar to brass instruments. You'll even get some harpsichord interventions to boot, but it is really the production of the album that is impressive, with plenty of space given to the drums and bass. But what really makes the difference is his ever-so-positive and happy songwriting and the attention to the individual instruments' interventions, much like Mozart would write a score for the triangle in his symphonies. Some may dismiss his music's cinematic qualities as some kind of easy movie score, but in some ways, that's a tremendous compliment, even if not intentional at first. Indeed, it's quite easy to tag on superb filmed images to this ever-so-happy music.

The album came with a very 'psych' artwork and gave a short written description of each track's meaning. Although Axelrod's next 'solo' albums would retain much of the trademarks laid out on Innocence; they would change musical direction, often nearing to crooner stuff, but with the same kind of impeccable arrangements. In some ways, Axelrod is one of my preferred arranger, along with the often-stupendous Gil Evans, and this debut album is at the height of Out Of The Cool or Las Vegas Tango stuff. In some ways, it's a bit of a shame that the Capitol label for which he worked for let him go (he had no royalties paid out to him) and strike it out on his own, because it would never be as exhilarating as his late-60's music. While his later albums may not do much to a proghead's fancy, this debut album should do wonders to his happiness and give him many musical orgasms.

Latest members reviews

4 stars This one is full of instrumental mid tempo gentle music that could perfectly be a soundtrack for a 60s or 70s romantic love affair road movie. The orchestration and production are excellent and the nostalgic feeling of it gets you every time. I know this kind of music is called "baroque pop" a ... (read more)

Report this review (#483349) | Posted by Astryos | Saturday, July 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The album is timeless and meticulously crafted like beautiful artistic riches. David Axelrod's 1968 album "Song Of Innocence" is a masterpiece of what they would call "Baroque Pop". The record was the first of two tributes to 18th century artist/poet William Blake in which each song title & t ... (read more)

Report this review (#299800) | Posted by A Fine Gentleman | Monday, September 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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