Songs Of Innocence/ Songs Of Experience

Songs Of Innocence/ Songs Of Experience

...these are sky-kissingly high and divine albums that deserve their belated liberation from the trainspotter elite.

When the excellent poet, artist and visionary William Blake climbed out of his tree filled with angels for long enough to write [I]Songs Of Innocence [/I]and [I]Songs Of Experience[/I] some 200 years ago, he could never have guessed what he was starting. Like naive art, for starters, and hippies, anti-capitalist rioters and most of rock’s noble savages – notably [a]Richard Ashcroft[/a] – who’ve found profundity in the English countryside and not wearing shoes.

The path of influence that led from Blake to a couple of concept albums made by a reformed smackhead and jazz arranger for hire in the late-’60s is more bewildering than most, however. For while Blake’s [I]Innocence [/I]and [I]Experience[/I] expressed his spirituality in simple, isolated terms, [a]David Axelrod[/a]’s ‘Songs Of Innocence’ and ‘Songs Of Experience’ are some of the most anti-simple music you could come across.

Instead, the first CD releases of these obsessively sought-after albums shows them to be ornate and portentous works of orchestral psychedelia. Mercifully, Axelrod‘s fleet-footed and inspired enough to soar above his own pretensions. The formula’s fairly consistent throughout: the drummer sets off on a loosely funk beat (you’ll recognise most of the breaks from DJ Shadow and his derivatives); the massive orchestra surges on from one ecstatic pinnacle to another; and, eventually, a freaky guitar solo staggers in to nail this intense music back down to its late-’60s origins.

here, for sure – these are sky-kissingly high and divine albums that deserve their belated liberation from the trainspotter elite. And surely, even Blake would’ve approved of that.