They bridged the gap between fusion and prog rock bands
Return to Forever had a pretty long run with a few different lineups, but in their most classic incarnation, they moved jazz fusion and the largely instrumental progressive rock bands like Brand X and Mahavishnu Orchestra closer together.
“The idea of a d.j. making something new out of other people’s music might seem preposterous. But there’s no question that a real d.j. can shape a night of music with his personality, style, and spirit, magically turning a string of records into a spontaneous symphony.”
1976’s Mothership Connection is one of the best albums George Clinton released under the Parliament banner in the five years between 1975 and 1980. During that period the group released an incredible nine records (no greatest hits or live sets, either) and toured relentlessly. When not busy with Parliament, Clinton was busy supervising recording by his other group, Funkadelic, or the P-Funk All Stars, Bootsy Collins, The Brides of Funkenstein, Bernie Worrell, or Zapp. What is incredible is the high quality of all this music. To say, then, that Mothership Connection stands out among the work of this period is high praise indeed.
David Axelrod stands as one of a handful of record producers who created a sound that, regardless of the artist with whom he was working, was recognizable as an Axelrod production. Phil Spector possessed a similar ability, as did Willie Mitchell. But Axelrod specialized in a gritty yet elegant sound that owed a great deal to the black urban experience.
The Edge: David Axelrod at Capitol DRecords 1966–1970 collects some of Axelrod’s production work as well as a selection of tracks from his own albums. Although you’ll have to hit the crates to find a number of Axelrod’s releases, this is a decent introductory CD.
David Axelrod’s first work as a producer was on tenor saxophonist Harold Land’s The Fox, an album that demonstrated what a marvelous musician Land was as well as putting the world on notice that West coast jazz musicians could play hard-edged bop with the best of the East.
Tony Joe White passed away on October 24, 2018. He died suddenly at home of a heart attack only weeks after the release of his album Bad Mouthin’. The following piece is adapted from a review of White’s album The Heroines with additional observations on his collaborations with Shelby Lynne.
Tony Joe White’s music is generally described as swamp rock, and it is true that he was one of the first performers to have a hit record with that sound. Back in 1969, when “Polk Salad Annie” became a hit record, there were a few other performers, mostly black, playing a swampy cocktail of sounds from the southern United States, but the mainstream public had never really heard most of them.