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Mass in F-Minor

Electric Prunes

℗ 1968 Reprise Records RS 6275

Electric Prunes • 1968 • Mass in F-Minor

Using the Electric Prunes to perform a pseudo-religious concept album constructed as a psychedelic mass (and sung in Latin) must have, to use the old cliche, seemed like a good idea at the time. One strike against the project from the outset was that it was not the brainchild of the group so much as of outside business forces, who wanted them to perform the material, which was wholly composed, arranged, and conducted by David Axelrod. It's not all that bad, both for its novelty value and for the pleasing imagination of much of Axelrod's arrangements. These match heavy organ with the usual heavy Electric Prunes guitar reverb, as well as choral harmonies, semi-acid freakout guitar soloing (which sounds like the Jefferson Airplane in spots), and dabs of horns and orchestral instruments. It's not all that great, either, sounding forced and dated in some respects. Undoubtedly the highwater mark is "Kyrie Eleison," which was featured in the Easy Rider soundtrack (how did Peter Fonda find the tune?), and boasts some enchanting guitar tremolo, harmonies, and stop-start tempos. Incidentally, it's since been discovered that much of the music was played not by the Prunes, but by session musicians and the Canadian band the Collectors. — Richie Unterberger.