Mass In F Minor - The Electric Prunes (1968)

'Mass in F Minor' LP Cover

"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."

(Stan Cornyn - cover of 'Mass in F Minor')

Reverse Cover of the 'Mass in F Minor' LP

Review by AMG

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, All-Music Guide

'Mass in F Minor' LP Billboard Advert 1967


Side 1

1. Kyrie Eleison (Axelrod) 3.18

2. Gloria (Axelrod) 5.42

3. Credo (Axelrod) 4.58

Side 2

1. Sanctus (Axelrod) 2.52

2. Benedictus (Axelrod) 4.48

3. Agnus Dei (Axelrod) 4.25

'Mass in F Minor' Track Listing


Exact personnel unknown but the following is what has been determined thusfar :

Original members of 'The Electric Prunes' whose pictures appear on the album cover and who recorded the first three tracks on the album (i.e. the line-up from the European Tour 1967) :

James Lowe - Lead Vocals
Mark Tulin - Bass & Organ
Ken Williams - Lead Guitar
Mike Gannon - Rhythm Guitar
Quint - Drums

James Lowe on the reverse cover of 'Mass in F Minor'

Quint on the reverse cover of 'Mass in F Minor'

Ken Williams on the reverse cover of 'Mass in F Minor'

Mark Tulin on the reverse cover of 'Mass in F Minor'

Weasel Spagnola on the reverse cover of 'Mass in F Minor'

Strangely, it is not Mike Gannon's photo that appears on the reverse of the 'Mass In F Minor' LP cover but that of James 'Weasel' Spagnola who had left the band during the recording of the previous LP 'Underground'. Why this photo is used is unknown!

Mark Tulin and Quint played on every track and James Lowe did all the lead vocals. Richie Podolor, the band's engineer, also helped out on guitar! Ken Williams added some solos.

The Collectors were brought in by Dave Hassinger to complete the project due to time pressures.

The line-up of The Collectors at this time was :

Howie Vickers - Lead Vocals
Bill Henderson - Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals & Keyboards
Claire Lawrence - Saxophone, Flute, Keyboards, Harmonica & Vocals
Glenn Miller - Bass and Vocals
Ross Turney - Drums

Produced by : Dave Hassinger

Written and arranged by : David Axelrod

David Axelrod's services courtesy of Capitol Records

Art Direction : Ed Thrasher

'Mass in F Minor' LP Billboard Advert 1967
Click here for a larger version of the 'Mass in F Minor' advert in Billboard

'Mass in F Minor' was reissued in the U.K. on the Midi label in 1974 as part of the 'Original Rock Classics' budget series.

'Mass in F Minor' was reissued in the Europe on the Linea label in 1990 for the first time in the CD format.