The Electric Prunes


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1966-67)

- Mark Kincade -- vocals, guitar 
- Jim Lowe -- vocals, rhythm guitar, percussion 
- Preston Ritter -- drums, percussion 
- Weasel Spagnola -- vocals, rhythm guitar 
- Mark Tulin -- bass, keyboards 
- Ken Williams -- lead guitar 

 

  line up 2 (1967-68)

- John Herren -- keyboards 
- Mark Kincade -- vocals, guitar 
- Jim Lowe -- vocals, rhythm guitar, percussion
- Weasel Spagnola -- vocals, rhythm guitar 
- Mark Tulin -- bass, keyboards 

NEW - Michael Quent Weakley -- drums (replaced 

  Preston Ritter)
- Ken Williams -- lead guitar 

 

  line up 3 (1968-69)

NEW - David Axelrod -- vocals, guitar 

NEW - Joe Dooley -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Michael Quint Weakley)

NEW - Mike Gannon -- rhythm guitar (replaced 

  Weasel Spagnola)
- John Herren -- keyboards
NEW - Ron Morgan -- guitar 
NEW - Brett Wade -- vocals, bass, flute (replaced 

  Mark Tuiln)
NEW - Richard Whetstone -- vocals, drums, guitar 
- Ken Williams -- guitar 

 

  line up 4 (1968-69)

- John Herron -- rhythm guitar

- Mike Kincaid -- guitar, backing vocals 
- Brett Wade -- bass, flute, backing

- Richard Whetstone -- vocals, drums (replaced Joe Dodley)

 

  line up 5 (1969-70)

- Mike Herren -- keyboards

- Mike Kincaid -- guitar, backing vocals 
NEW - Ron Morgan -- keyboards, guitar (replaced  John Herron)
- Brett Wade -- bass, flute, backing vocals

- Richard Whetstone -- vocals, drums, percussion

 

  backing musicians (1969)

- Gary Coleman -- percussion

- Carole Kaye -- bass

- Lou Morell -- lead guitar

- Earl Palmer -- drums, percussion

- Don Randi -- keyboards

- Howard Roberts -- lead guitar

  line up 6 (1999-2001)

- Jim Lowe -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Mark Tulin -- bass, keyboards 

- Michael Quent Weakley -- drums, percussion

- Ken Williams -- lead guitar

  line up 7 (2001-)

NEW - Joe Dooley -- drums, percussion

- Jim Lowe -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Mark Tulin -- bass, keyboards 

- Michael Quent Weakley -- drums, percussion

- Ken Williams -- lead guitar

 

 

 

 

- The Astronauts

- David Axelrod (solo efforts)

- Hardwater

- Stallion Thumrock

- Strawberry Alarm Clock

- Three Dog Night (Ron Morgan)


 

Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  The Electric Prunes

Company: Reprise

Catalog: 6262

Country/State: Woodland Hills, California

Year: 1966

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: --

Available: SOLD

Catalog number: SOLD

Price: SOLD

 

Formed in the San Fernando Valley in 1965 (not Seattle as stated in several reference works), The Electric Prunes served as a musical cooperative, originally showcasing a lineup consisting of guitarists Mark Kincade and Weasel Spagnola, vocalist Jim Lowe, drummer Preston Ritter and bassist Mark Tulin. Spotted by producer/manager Dave Hassinger, in early 1966 the quintet was signed to Reprise.

An early 1966 single "Ain't It Hard?" b/w "Little Olive" bombed, but Reprise management agreed to finance an album. Produced by Hassinger, the cleverly-titled "The Electric Prunes" showcased an entertaining mixture of psychedlia ("Bangles" and "Get Me To the World On Time"), garage band ("Are You Lovin' Me More (But Enjoying It Less" and "Luvin'") and pseudo-hip-camp ("The King Is In the Counting House" and "Tunerville Trolley"). A mixture of originals and covers (largely written by Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz); Hassinger's cutting edge studio techniques (lots of reverb and fuzz guitar), combined with the band's easygoing delivery made for a minor classic. Curiously, while "I Had Too Much To Drink Last Night" b/w "" provided the band with a top-20 hit, the parent album could chart no higher than #113.

"The Electric Prunes" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)
2.) Try Me On For Size
3.) Onie
4.) Are You Lovin' Me More (But Enjoying It Less)
5.) Bangles
6.) Sold to the Highest Bidder

(side 2)

1.) Get Me to the World on Time
2.) About a Quarter to Nine
3.) The King Is in The Counting House
4.) Luvin'
5.) Train for Tomorrow
6.) Tunnerville Trolley

 

 

 

 


Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Underground

Company: Reprise

Catalog: 6248

Country/State: Woodland Hills, California

Year: 1967

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 

Price: $12.00

 

With Hassinger again producing, 1967's "Underground" was recorded amidst the first in a debilitating series of personnel upheavals; drummer Ritter replaced by Quint. Marking their second album in less than a year, musically the set found the band under intense business and creative pressure. Pushed to write and record while maintaining a touring schedule (including a European jaunt), the results were surprisingly impressive. Sure, exemplified by tracks such as the blazing "The Great Banana Hoax," "Children of the Rain" and "Wind-Up Toys" the album did little to tamper with their earlier sound. The emphasis remained squarely on psychedelia ("Hideaway"), but the band didn't hesitate to continue their explorations of different genres (including the C&W-influenced "It's Not Fair"), odd timings, quirky signatures (the raga-influenced "I") and offbeat instrumentation ("Dr. Do-Good"). With Lowe and Tulin penning five of the 12 tracks, the band also deserved credit for what was a clear effort to limit their earlier dependence on outside material (this time around Mantz and Tucker were credited with three songs). More consistent, though not as immediately likeable as the debut, the collection proved a minor commercial success, peaking at #172.

"Underground" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) The Great Banana Hoax   (Jim Lowe - Mark Tulin) - 3:05
2.) Child of Rain   (Ken Williams - Williams) - 2:30
3.) Wind-Up Toys   (Jim Lowe - Mark Tulin) - 2:27
4.) Antique Doll   (Nancie Mantz - Annette Tucker) - 3:10
5.) It's Not Fair   (Jim Lowe - Mark Tulin) - 2:00
6.) I Happen To Love You   (Gerry Goffin - Carole King) - 3:12

(side 2)

1.) Dr. Do-Good   (Nancie Mantz - Annette Tucker) - 2:27
2.) I   (Nancie Mantz - Annette Tucker) - 5:10
3.) Hideaway   (Jim Lowe - Mark Tulin) - 2:37
4.) Big City   (J. Walsh - D. Walsh) - 2:45

5.) Capt. Glory   (Jim Lowe) - 2:11
6.) Long Day's Flight   (Weakley - Yorty) - 3:09

 

 



Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Mass In F Minor

Company: Reprise

Catalog: RS 6275

Year: 1968

Country/State: Woodland Hills, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original stock inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2180

Price: $15.00

 

Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Mass In F Minor

Company: Reprise

Catalog:  RS 6275

Year: 1968

Country/State: Woodland Hills, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: 1980 German reissue

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2180

Price: $20.00

 

 

Having acquired rights to the Electric Prunes nameplate, by late 1967 manager/producer Dave Hassinger was calling the creative and marketing shots.  The fact he was decide what the band would record didn't sit well with the band members and by mid-'67 the original Electric Prune line-up simply called it quits.  Clearly interested in protecting his nameplate Hassinger convinced Reprise Records to support a new Electric Prunes line-up under the creative direction of David Axelrod. With Axelrod being the creative lead, the revised line up featured keyboardist John Herren, guitarist Ron Morgan, bass player Brett Wade, and keyboardist Richard Whetstone.  Reportedly unhappy with the band's technical skills, Axelrod supposedly also brought in studio pros like Wrecking Crew bassist Carole Kaye and drummer Earl Palmer.  Members of the Canadian band The Collectors supposedly also provided support during the recording sessions. 

 

Reprise's support was repaid with the release of 1968's "Mass In F Minor".   With Hassinger credited as producer, all of the material was written and arranged by Axelrod.   A concept piece, complete with orchestral backing, Axelrod's apparent idea was to set a Latin mass to rock music.  Stan Cornyn's liner notes were the perfect description for the resulting material:

 

"So much in the old cathedral seemed, to the young man, intent on making him feel smaller. Ahead of him, remote figures in shining robes moved on warn paths through their stations, chanting in foreign ritual. He just couldn't get with it.

Around him in the half-empty rows were mostly isolated old women, bent, tucked down over strings of black beads. Bent, with no one bending back to them.

To one side, a robed choir, echoing Medieval plainsong, which he couldn't remember even his grandfather singing. No one to talk to, or touch. Little to listen to. A museum for other souls, not his.

He returned to the out-of-doors. The city outside beat to a new rhythm. It - the Hondas, the jets, the guitars, the laughs, the headlines, the commercials, the cries, the kids, his ugly-lovely cacophony - it caught him up. It walloped.

Those outside the cathedral - new colors, new cuts, new looks - moving in lifely anticipation. Eyes cast up, watching their hopes.

Then, from some $4.98 radio he heard the beat of the latest anthem. That music beat out his own tempo. An unplainsong caught his heart and gut. It beat in him. It bent to him. He bent back.

Christen worship has been graven on granite and vested in shining robes and danced in jungles and shared on lake shores and sung in foxholes and tacked on cathedral doors and played to jazz and performed on Broadway and droned in cathedrals.

Christian worship has forms as many as the creative energies of man. The Mass in F Minor is one of these."

Exemplified by tracks such as 'Kyrie Eleison' (known to lots of folks as the background music in an infamous scene in the film Easy Rider), 'Gloria' and 'Sanctus' made for one of the year's oddest endeavors.  Rock instrumentation with lots of Latin lyrics and Gregorian chants must have seemed like a happening idea at the time.  It was certainly different and while the results were occasionally a bit tuneless, it certainly made for a different sound.  Certainly not something you were going to put on the turntable every day, but it certainly had its moments.   Maybe because much of the buying public was stoned, or  perhaps bolstered by the great rosary cover art, the collection actually managed to hit # 135 on the US album charts.  

 

In hindsight it was an interesting effort, worth hearing simply 'cause it was so weird.

"Mass In F Minor" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Kyrie Eleison   (David Axelrod) - 3:18     rating: **** stars

Hum, who would have ever thought to an ancient Latin phrase that seems to translate as "Lord Have Mercy" and turn it into the opening track for a cool psychedelic album?  This is one of the tracks where there's debate over who actually played on the tune - lots of folks seem to think it was The Collectors.  No idea, but whoever it was added some amazing tremolo fuzz guitar.  (As mentioned, the song was included in the film Easy Rider.
2.) Gloria   (David Axelrod) - 5:42     rating: **** stars

How could you not like a song that started out with a ballpark organ solo followed by a Gregorian chant segment?   And when the psychedelic surf guitar solo kicked in ...  Ah, '60s rock nirvana.  What a cool tune.    
3.) Credo   (David Axelrod)- 4:58
     rating: **** stars

The original rock mass - 

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipoténtem, Factórem cæli et terræ,Visibílium ómnium et invisibílium.  or We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible.

And when the instrumental section kicks in it still sounds pretty cool and trippy some five decades later. 


(side 2)

1.) Sanctus   (David Axelrod) - 2:52     rating: **** stars

Curiously I don't remember this arrangement of the tune from my Catholic masses - maybe it was played this way at the 10:00 am offerings ...

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth, Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.Hosanna in excelsis.

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. 
rating: *** stars
2.) Benedictus   (David Axelrod) - 4:48
     rating: **** stars

To my ears 'Benedictus' offered up the best match of old and new musical influences - I certainly loved the extended lead guitar, organ, and bass solos on this one. 
3.) Angnus Dei   (David Axelrod) - 4:25
     rating: **** stars

Yes, I'm using the term loosely, but 'Angnus Dei' was the best "rocker" on the album.  Since the musicians were given a chance to stretch out (whoever was playing on this one), the result was another highlight.    

 

 

 

 


Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Release of An Oath

Company: Reprise

Catalog: RS 6316

Year: 1968

Country/State: Woodland Hills, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/ VG+

Comments: minor ring wear; original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID:

Price: $20.00

 

In spite of The Electric Prunes billing, for all intents and purposes 1969's "Release of an Oath" was essentially another David Axelrod offering.  With the exception of singer/drummer Richard Whetstone, the rest of the band members were largely sidelined with musical support provided by members of the famed Wrecking Crew.  Without having to stretch your imagination, the album could easily have been entitled "Mass Part 2".  Picking up where the previous set left off, tracks such as 'Kol Nidre', 'General Confessional' and The Adoration' found Axelrod and company marrying overtly religious lyrics with a mixture of classical influences and rock instrumentation. Admittedly this wasn't for everyone, but once you got over your initially hesitations the set wasn't half bad.  Bolstered by some strong melodies and a couple of great guitar segments (check out 'Holy Are You), to my ears it was actually stronger and more consistent than "Mass" - certainly more entertaining than some of the Christian rock groups I as exposed to growing up ...  Admittedly, side two was weaker, with Axelrod relegated to repeating some f his earlier ideas, but still an entertaining 30 minutes.   Not sure why, but this one was just way better than "Mass".  Did that help sales?  Not one bit.  Amen.

 

By the way, here are Jules B. Newman's subtle liner notes: 

 

Through the centuries and out of the travail of the past, man has many times, in his search for a better life, been forced by powers beyond his control to foreswear the principles of his fathers and to accept the yoke of a conqueror who might vanquish his body, but not his soul. But no man of principle can live with himself having foresworn the ideals that he lives by. In yearning to free his spirit of the conqueror's yoke, he has conjured up a psychological release that enables him to break the chains that bind him to any oath made under duress and in violation of his principles. Such a lament is the Kol Nidre - a prayer of antiquity which cleanses the spirit and enables man to start anew, with his eyes again on the stars.

 

This, then, is the music of the Kol Nidre, which is as modern and meaningful today as when it was first written. David Axelrod has brought the music into a contemporary stance by blending the melodies of the centuries with today's contemporary sounds. David Hassinger has taken the efforts of David Axelrod and, with his provocative talents, has in turn blended them into this artful presentation by The Electric Prunes.

"Release of an Oath" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Kol Nidre   (David Axelrod) - 4:14   rating:*** stars

Okay, I had to look it up - "An Aramaic declaration recited in the synagoue before the beginning of the evening service on every Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement."   'Kol Nidre' sounded very much like something off the earlier "Mass" album.  The song had a rock base, but along with some Middle Eastern flavors, Gregorian chant like voices, and heavy orchestration, it could easily have been something pulled from a movie soundtrack.   Hard to believe, but Johnny Mathis cut a version of the song.
2.) Holy Are You   (David Axelrod) - 4:05  
rating: **** stars

Even if you weren't religiously oriented, there's something fascinating in this one which may explain why it's been sampled by a slew of rap artist, including Beatnuts, Fat Joe, Howie B., Madlib, Rakim, and Raekown.  Great melody and I'd give a paycheck to learn Carole Kaye's bass line on this one. Elsewhere, the guitar solo was simply magical.   
3.) General Confessional   (David Axelrod) - 4:15  
rating: **** stars

Powered by Don Randi's ominous keyboard fills and some sizzling fuzz guitar (not sure if it was Lou Morrel or Howard Roberts), 'General Confessional' was another song that just kind of hit you like a ton of bricks.

(side 2)

1.) Individual Confessional   (David Axelrod) - 2:10   rating: **** stars

Overlooking the secular lyrics, 'Individual Confessional' was probably the album's most conventional rock song.  Carole Kaye's bass was simply stunning.
2.) Our Father, Our King   (David Axelrod) - 3:10  
rating: ** stars

The album's first disappointment, 'Our Father, Out King' wasn't bad, but sounded like it was kind of an afterthought, stumbling through the motions without a lot of focus.  
3) The Adoration   (David Axelrod) - 3:48 
  rating: *** stars

Powered by another killer Carole King bass line, I'm surprising this wasn't part of my Catechism program.  
4.) The Closing Hymn   (David Axelrod) - 2:53 
  rating: *** stars

Hum, ever wondered what would happen if The Association were stuffed into altar robes and forced to convert to Catholicism?   The ballad  'The Closing Hymn' might give you some idea of the results.  

 

 



Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Just Good Old Rock and Roll

Company: Reprise

Catalog: RS 6342

Year: 1969

Country/State: Woodland Hills, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut top left corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6075

Price: $15.00

 

 

1969's "Just Good Old Rock and Roll" stands an early example of a record label keeping a band nameplate alive in an effort to pull as many dollars out of the group's rapidly diminishing fan base as possible.  In fact, by the time this collection was released none of the original Electric Prunes band members were still in the line-up.  Instead, the album featured what amounted to a brand new group composed of lead guitarist Mike Kincaid, former Three Dog Night keyboardist/rhythm guitarist Ron Morgan (replacing John Herron), bassist Brett Wade, and singer/drummer Dick Whetstone (in fact Herron, Kinaid and Whetstone had played together in an earlier Colorado-based band called Climax).  That might also explain the fact the album was billed to 'the new improved Electric Prunes'.

 

Reprise promo photo (left to right) Wade - Kincaid - Morgan - Whetstone

 

So what to make of this one?  Well, if you were expecting to hear a continuation of the band's original garage moves, or more of their David Axelrod directed experimentation, you'll be disappointed by these surprisingly mainstream rock numbers.  Given this set routinely gets slammed by critics and reviewers, I'll readily admit to having had rather low expectations.  Against that backdrop the results really weren't that bad.  If these guys had been billed as a new act with a different name - say The Fantastic Scarves, or The Electric Hand Sanitizers, I suspect they would have met with a much more favorable response.  Produced by Dave Hassinger (who'd handled their first couple of LPs), the collection offered up a mixture of outside material and originals with a heavy emphasis on conventional rock.  Lead singer Whetstone had a decent enough voice - kind of rugged and gruff; a little bit reminicent of Rare Earth's Pete Rivera - who like Whetstone also happened to be a drummer.  The rest of the band were professional, if few of their performances really jumped out at you - Morgan turned in a couple of nice keyboard segments and Wade contributed a nice bass line to 'Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers' and side two's 'Giant Sunhorse' featured some nice lead guitar from Kincaid and Wade.

 

"Just Good Old Rock and Roll" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Sell   (M Herron - John Herron - 3:13   rating: **** stars

Opening up with some stabbing Ron Morgan keyboards, the rocking 'Sell' has always reminded me of an Americanized version of Traffic.  The song was quiet commercial, but in a jazz-tinged fashion and Whetstone's measured vocals reminded me a bit of Steve Winwood - okay that may have been a bit of a stretch, but I still like the song.

2.) 14 Year Old Funk   (Bill Daffern - Ron Morgan) - 3:31   rating: *** stars 

'14 Year Old Funk' was a decent conventional rocker highlighted by some tasty dual guitar from Mike Kincaid and Ron Morgan.    

3.) Love Grows   (Bill Daffern - John Fleck - Ron Morgan - Brett Wade) - 4:07   rating: ** stars

'Love Grows' found the band trying to stretch out a bit in the progressive direction. Unfortunately the results sounded like they'd taken a couple of different songs and simply pasted them together in a random fashion.  Call it an interesting failure and move on.   

4.) So Many People To Tell   (Brett Wade) - 4:00   rating: *** stars 

'So Many People To Tell' was a slow, slightly lysegenic-tinged ballad notable for sounding somewhat dated and for some out of tune flute from Wade.  

5.) Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers   (Jimmy Holiday - Jimmy Lewis - Cliff Chambers) - 3:30    rating: **** stars

A surprisingly funky slice of blue-eyed soul, 'Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers' sported a great tune, some nice Ron Morgan keyboards, and a great bass line from Wade.  Imagine Felix Cavaliere and the Rascals trying to sound funky and you'll get a feel for this one.  Easily one of the album's highlights, it take much insight to understand why Reprise tapped this one as a single.   

 

(side 2)

1.) Giant Sunhorse   (Bill Daffern - Ron Morgan - Larry Tamblyn - Brett Wade) - 4:06   rating: *** stars 

The album's hardest rocker, 'Giant Sunhorse' featured that distinctive heavy molten metal sound so common in early 1970s rock - think Lesley West and Mountain.  I'm a sucker for this stuff.  This one also featured one of the album's best guitar work.   

2.) Violent Rose   (John Herron - Dick Whetstone) - 2:42   rating: *** stars 

Penned by former guitarist John Herron and Whetstone, 'Violent Rose' sported a breezy and slightly stoned Southern California country-rock feel - definietly more Grateful Dead than Poco ...  Nice.  

3.) Thorjon   (Mark Kincaid - Brett Wade - Dick Whetstone) - 2:58  rating: ** stars

'Thorjon' served as the album's guitar freak-out track.  A decent rocker, the first half of the song basically set the stage for some nice Kincaid and Morgan guitar interplay.  Unfortunately, the song abruptly shifted gears into a blues-rock vein.  There was still plenty of fuzz guitar, but Whetstone's voice became quite screechy and irritating making you wish the song would fade out. .

4.) Silver Passion Mine   (Brett Wade) - 2:53   rating: ** stars

The mid-tempo 'Silver Passion Mine' found the band stumbling through a mildly acid tinged number.  The harmony vocals were quite nice, but the song never really gelled or went anywhere and the flute arrangement was dismal.  This one could have been excellent with a little more work.  

5.) Tracks   (M. Herron - John Herron) - 2:44   rating: **** stars

Apparently rescued from their pre-Electric Prunes Climax days, 'Tracks' was another album highlight.  An organ-propelled rocker, this one sounded a bit like Stephen Stills jamming with Vanilla Fudge.  Great melody and vocal on this one. In fact my only complaint was that the song faded out just as it was gathering some real energy.    

6.) Sing To Me   (Brett Wade) - 3:22     rating: *** stars 

Penned by bassist Wade, 'Sing To Me' found the group diving headlong into lite-progressive territory.  A weird mash-up of heavy metal, spiraling keyboards, and over the top pretentious vocals, the first couple of times I heard it the song didn't do a great deal for me.  While you'll never consider it a masterpiece, over time the track's grown on me, perhaps due in part to the fact they sound like they're trying soooooo hard to be relevant. 

 

The album was also tapped for a pair of singles in the form of:

 

- 1969's 'Sell' b/w 'Violent Rose' (Reprise catalog number RS 0833)

- 1969's 'Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers' b/w 'Love Grows' (Reprise catalog number RS 0858)

 

All told, not nearly as bad as the critics would have you believe.  Certainly nowhere near as pompous and overblown as some of the earlier David Axelrod outings.

 

The band actually toured in support of the LP, but it did little commercially and they called it quits in 1970.

 

 

 

 

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