One of the signs of a great producer is that when they work with a specific musician, the results are often considered the best work of the latter’s catalog. Throughout his career, David Axelrod has coaxed excellent performances out of people like Lou Rawls and Cannonball Adderley, and songs like Rawls’ “Dead End Street” confirm this, its direct, brutal and yet still humorous narrative a blueprint for rap. Another sign of a great producer is when even his most minor moments impact and inform future generations. Axelrod’s “The Edge” is famous for being sampled by Dr. Dre, but it’s Axelrod’s other clever details, like the jaunty bassline that appears (and quickly disappears) midway through “Urizen” (which forms the basis of Jurassic 5’s “A Day At The Races”) that highlight his brilliance.
Directed by Axelrod’s son Dana, “David Axelrod: Live at Royal Festival Hall” gets a much-deserved screening tonight at the Egyptian, and it’s a rich, funny, and engaging work. Not only is tonight the film’s U.S. premiere, but there will also be a post-screening reception and DJ set from J. Rocc, as well as a Q&A with Axelrod, an LA native. The “Live at Royal Festival Hall” DVD and CD, previously sold only through Axelrod’s website, will also be available for purchase, and the above song, taken from the concert, is a good idea of what to expect. Handling vocals on the Electric Prunes classic, Richard Ashcroft does a strong job with “Holy Are You,” and it’s easy to see where Verve songs like “See You In The Next One” got their inspiration from.