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Single Review: “Axel F” Harold Faltermeyer

While everyone’s gripped in election fever, I thought I’d revisit a track that holds a lot of good memories for me. Not only is it a track from a film that holds a very special place in 80s pop culture it’s also a pop culture reference in itself. 

That film was Beverly Hills Cop, and this is the main theme for its heroic (Or should I say anti heroic?) character Axel Foley.

Axel F for short.

See what I did there?

There has been a long awaited film that’s just come out on Netflix, set 40 years since its first film, and it was great reliving the nostalgia.

Adults of a certain age will remember trying to play this on the piano or on a cheap Casio at some point in the late 80s and downloading it as a ringtone when Crazy Frog resurrected it in 2005 and beat Coldplay to No.1. 

Imagine. 

Well, my first encounter with this was when I was 12 years old and I heard someone playing it in the music department at my secondary school. His name was John and he became a very important part of my life as he taught me how to program synths and drum machines back then. This was my introduction to the synth pop world.

So, what’s the big deal?

Well, it’s all electronic. 

Using a DX7 (A ubiquitous instrument from 1983 but not using the tone you’d expect), a LinnDrum (Prince, Michael Jackson and so many other hit records used this machine, and several others, these were used in such a way it’s creating a piece of music that will be stuck in your head for a long time.

The bass line plays within an octave pattern and is catchy, this could be used as part of a jazz riff if given a bit of a swing but it’s not. The main synth line plays as a counter point to this and just fits together nicely over the drums, at some point there’s a pre chorus which plays chords before switching to marimbas which comes from the DX7. The big fill would have been something Phil Collins would be proud of because it’s got big electronic tom hits which brings you back to the main theme…

This piece is magic. 

I had this on 12” single as it goes – I loved the London mix as it was called on that, for some reason – Big extended sections including a timbale solo! 

This is and will remain one of my favourite tracks of the 80s. 

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