The Unexpected Religious, Psychedelic Rock of The Electric Prunes

The title alone may have made you unsure if this is the kind of music for you or weary of any music put out by these apparent galvanic fruits. However, I’m here to tell you that The Electric Prunes have some incredibly notable psychedelic rock opera songs that will quite literally bring you closer to the Heavens. The Electric Prunes are better known for their consistent and classic ’60s rock ‘n’ roll sound; “I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night” is a great example of this through the band’s garage punk vibe. “Onie” is another certified ’60s classic from the group, and a personal favorite of mine because of its iconic, delicate, and melancholic sound.

However, through the name of The Electric Prunes, composer David Axelrod created some of the most unique, spiritual, and coolest psychedelic rock. The songs I’ll be covering are from an EP and album that were sort of unnecessary, but intentional additions to the discography of The Electric Prunes. Personally, I think they are fascinating creations by Axelrod and worthy of praise by fans of psych. The following songs consist of delectable and extraordinary blends of R&B, rock, psychedelica, Gregorian music, soul, and jazz. So, get ready for a spiritual awakening of sorts.

Mass in F Minor was the EP that started this short, but very interesting phase for the band. It consists of six tracks which are entirely sung in Latin, and is almost thirty minutes of a psychedelic mass. What you’ll notice throughout the songs is the authenticity of Gregorian chant and its use of what is known as “stepwise motion”. Stepwise motion is when each note in a melody moves up or down a single note. It creates this singular and uniform sound, making this EP a respectable piece to this medieval craft. In addition, drummer Michael Weakly stabilizes a jazzy feel by holding all of the other musicians’ instrumental parts together. Interestingly enough, this release was sort of the start of the decline of The Electric Prunes due to their inability to keep up with their producer David Hassinger’s demands for the EP. The band played on every track, however, session musicians were brought in and, in a sense, took over the project. As unfortunate as this was for the band members, some great music was created. David Axelrod is really the genius behind this concept and why it works so well; he wrote and arranged everything. Axelrod’s style shines brightly throughout, creating such a solid set of confident and holistic tracks. Stripping it down to the basics: the blend of the vocals, electric guitar, drums, bass, and organ form this cadence that really itches the part of my brain that adores the aesthetics of the past.

Cover art for Mass in F minor EP

The opening track: “Kyrie Eleison”, better known from cult classic film Easy Rider, is sung boldly and outspokenly by lead singer James Lowe. I think Lowe did a great job on all the tracks—he really added so much mystique and graveness. There’s a point in the song when Lowe’s vocals are isolated. You really get immersed in it all because he truly sounds like a man of religious order, strongly citing a sacred chant for a congregation to hear. This song, along with the others, have a signature ’60s rock sound mixed with music that goes back hundreds of years. Without his superb vocals, I would not be transported to a daydream of ancient ceremony and royal garbs. The simple guitar riff and drum combo as soon as the song starts is cool and collected. The guitar reverb is essential in creating that dreamy, psychedelic effect. Every time I hear it, I can’t help but sway. Another cool thing in the song is this brief guitar rendition of the song “My Favorite Things.” Guitarist Ken Williams plays this demented version of it for just a few seconds towards the end of the song.

The song “Credo” is my favorite example of the use of stepwise motion. The song starts off pretty regular and then it jumps to this faster pace cadence with Lowe’s vocals leading a fleet of instruments. It is only a small portion of the song, but it is so catchy. Lowe is surfing off that singular melody with a massive wave of instruments behind him. The rest of the song is pure instrumental rock ‘n’ roll with subtle trickles of allure.

My personal favorite song is the last one off the EP titled “Agnus Dei”. This song starts and ends with so much confidence. I can see David Axelrod’s vision so clearly with how he arranged and directed this piece. This song does not quiver or feel unsure of itself, but instead almost stands on its own as this beautifully written piece. The fusion of stringed instruments and electric guitar blend with grand conviction. In the beginning, Lowe sings the title of the song and after a momentary pause the stringed instruments emerge gracefully. Then, the rock ‘n’ roll begins: Weakly starts things off with a simple groove, and then, the iconic, echoing reverb of the electric guitar takes over. The unification of the orchestra and rock is one of my favorite parts of the song. I can’t help but get lost in the music. Midway through is this instrumental tunnel the musicians take you into. It’s Williams’ guitar and the strings surfing through this cosmic echo chamber that I never want to leave. Ultimately, this song is solid throughout and unwavering.

Listen to “Agnus Dei”—my favorite song from this EP

Not too long after Mass in F minor, their next album, Release of an Oath was released. It is the same concept as its predecessor with its religious undertones intertwined with rock and jazz fusions. This album is centered more around R&B type tunes and is sung entirely in English. At this point, the original Electric Prunes had disbanded. The musicians playing on this album are an entirely new set of people. It was kind of sad to learn that this was not the original band nor was it done in the true spirit of The Electric Prunes, however, some truly unique music was born in the process; there is no doubt about that. Just like the previous release, Axelrod created a solid set of songs that matched one another very nicely. The instrumentals are an easy listen for all fans of psych, so it’s a no brainer to check this album out. My favorite parts of this album are the drums and keyboard.

David Axelrod, the man behind Mass in F minor and Release of an Oath

“Holy Are You” is the most recognized song from the album, and rightfully so, because this song is absolutely timeless. The beginning, middle, and end take you on this beautifully mastered journey. Within the first minute of the song we go from a simple keyboard and vocal combo to a groovy R&B beat. The percussion in this track is incredible. It is no wonder this song has been sampled many times by Rap and Hip-Hop artists. (Sidenote, “Respect Mine” by Fat Joe is a perfect example of a great song that sampled “Holy Are You”). Drummers, Earl Palmer, Gary Coleman, and Richard Whetstone elevate the song entirely and are the reason the song is such a contemporary tour de force, in my opinion. With every groove and fill carrying the song to mastery, I can’t help but dance and sing along every time I hear it. A part I really love from the song is when you can hear the percussion, flute, bass, and keyboard create this enchanting jam. The keyboard adds this delightful twinkling sound to the mix that just whisks the listener away into an instrumental dream. And, of course, the insanely awesome guitar solo is another notable feat. Every note and every instrument in this song feels absolutely necessary and purposeful. I can not stress this enough: the unity of the orchestra, R&B, and electric guitar are perfect. This song is simply fantastic and is truly an example of Axelrod’s best.

Listen to this legendary R&B song “Holy Are You” by The Electric Prunes

The other song I want to briefly cover from this album is “Closing Hymn”. As you can tell from the title of the song, it is the final one on the album. I really enjoy the repetition in this track and the tune overall. Again, you have this killer drum beat that holds everything together and makes you want to dance along. Despite being such a simple note change from up to down and vice versa, keyboard Don Randi performs a wistful lulling effect through this. The dreamlike sound of the notes brushes you softly like the touch of flower petals and the subtle reverberation in the ending of the notes are a hollow, ethereal echo. It is such a pretty song and a great close to the album.

I learned a lot while writing this review, but I’m most excited about hearing more of David Axelrod’s works. I listened to a few of his solo works and I have to say I think I found another style of music that deeply resonates with me. He does such a great job blending genres together like I’ve never heard before. Even though this psychedelic gospel wasn’t what the original Electric Prunes had in mind, some truly special melodies were made in the process. David Axelrod did good in the name of The Electric Prunes. Thank you to all the musicians involved in these pieces and thank you for reading.

A huge thank you to The Electric Prunes website for all of this amazing information:

RIP Vangelis


I’m very sad to see that Vangelis has passed away at the age of 79. What a legend, and what a loss. Whether it was his work with Aphrodite’s Child or his work on movie scores such as Chariots of Fire or Blade Runner, he made an unforgettable mark on the music world.

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Aphrodite’s Child: A Retrospective

What could be described as an under appreciated psychedelic rock band from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Aphrodite’s Child, created several phenomenal songs worth hearing. They were a band comprised of three, main members: Evangelos Papathanassiou (Vangelis), Demis Roussos, and Loukas Sideras. With the combination of Vangelis’s extraordinary composing, Demis’s unique voice, and Loukas’s skillful drum work, this is a solid band worth coming back to.

From left to right: Demis Roussos, Vangelis, and Lucas Sideras.

The first song I heard by the group was “End of the World”. It was actually recommended to me by fellow Progarchist Connor Mullin. However, it was not until I heard the song “It’s Five O’Clock” that my eyes opened to how special the band was. The ending of that song dazzled me with its auditory brilliance. When the ending piano instrumentals gently floated into my ears, I was so shocked. The last 30 seconds consist of pure, psychedelic ecstasy. You can expect to be shocked by this band’s work throughout the course of their 3 albums. The short but oh so sweet musical endeavors of Aphrodite’s Child deserve to be discussed again and again. I’ve put together some of what I believe to be their best songs—enjoy!

“End of the World”—is one of my personal favorites because I find it so unique. It is the perfect teenage love song: full of doom and gloom (hence the name) and a feeling of being unwanted. It captures the romanticism of running away with someone you love and forgetting about everything else. But, it also deals with the unfaceable truth of rejection. Vangelis does such a wonderful job at setting the tone of when love feels apocalyptic, thanks to not only his awesome piano skills, but all of the other ominous sounds in the song. There is a great live version of this song on Youtube worth checking out. Every time I watch it I wish I could jump through the screen and be there; everyone’s outfits are superb. In addition, Demis’ opening vocals on the track are haunting in the best way possible. After hearing them, I was ready to drop everything and go to the end of the world with him! No questions asked.

“Good Time So Fine”—is my absolute favorite! This song made me fall in love with Demis Roussos. I have such a respect for his voice and musicianship. I adore this song’s playful tune. The pitch changes of Demis’ voice makes this song so much fun! It’s amazing that he is singing both parts of the song—I would have never known. The lyrics are sweet and feel like a breath of fresh air; it’s a song you’d happily be singing along to in the sunshine. The chorus makes you feel the freedom and joy that is love. This song feels like it belongs in a musical, which makes it easy to dance and sing along to. I watched a live recording of Aphrodite’s Child performing this song and it was so impressive to see Demis sing, play bass, and play the trumpet, all in the span of a three minute song. This song was made for Demis Roussos.

“Rain and Tears”—this song is an adaptation of Pachelbel’s Canon and is the band’s most commercially successful song. The most notable part of the song is its bridge. It transitions from a mediocre love song to a heart wrenching melody. The song could have remained in somewhat basic state, but it goes a step further. This is thanks to the masterful vocals of Demis Roussos. The song goes to such an ethereal level when Demis croons those beginning lyrics of the bridge. It’s no wonder this was such a hit.

“Marie Jolie”—can be described as one of the best love songs I’ve ever heard. Again, Roussos vocals transport the listener to a celestial level. It seems like his heart and soul were put into every word he sings, which makes the lyrics so intense. Roussos’s vocals add a profundity to the otherwise simple lyrics. My favorite lyric from the song is ‘Love is everywhere you are’ because Demis presents it so powerfully. Every time I hear this song it gives me chills and I find myself swaying to the soft combination of Demis’ voice and the graceful percussion provided by Lucas Sideras.

“The Four Horsemen”—is the perfect song to get in the Halloween spirit. With an electrifying guitar solo and haunting vocals and lyrics, this is one cool and timeless song. The song —and the entire album—refers to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse—Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death—referenced in the Book of Revelation. The lyrics are quoting from the scripture itself, adding to the eeriness of the song. You’ll feel like your in the end times listening to this song, but in the grooviest way possible.

Aphrodite’s Child has so much to offer and I am so happy to have been shown their music. A huge thank you to all the talented people that worked on any of their albums. Aphrodite’s Child’ will live on forever and ever.

A special thank you to for providing such detailed information about the band.

A Review On The Front Page Review

Front Page Review is the type of hidden gem that perfectly illustrates the vibrancy of ‘60s rock. They were a psychedelic, indie rock band that was part of the “Bosstown Sound.” The “Bosstown Sound” was a term used for New England bands that emerged from the San Francisco music scene. These bands were not taken seriously because they were perceived as only concerned with money and fame. The band never really gained popularity and their only album ever recorded, Mystic Soldiers, was not released until 30 years later. Steve Cataldo is the man behind this excellent album; he is the lead guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Each song is an audible display of Cataldo’s talent and hard work. He seemed to perfectly capture his own psychedelic and dreamy sound of the time. Every song off the album takes you on a musical quest, which makes the album so special.

Despite their lack of recognition and discography, Front Page Review’s Mystic Soldiers is worth hearing. This exquisite album is a must listen for all fans of ‘60s psychedelic rock. It will get you dancing and feeling groovy.

I first came across Front Page Review randomly. My Apple Music subscription offers a radio station that caters to the type of music I frequently listen to. My love for all types of ‘60s rock made it only sensible for Front Page Review to be recommended to me. The song titled Prophecies/Morning Blue was the first song I ever heard by the band. It was love at first listen. I knew that through the rough mix of the distorted sounds added to that first song off the album, I had found something worth listening to. Prophecies/Morning Blue opens up with some manipulated sounds of children playing in the background and ends with a swooping and loud swirl of pure, psychedelic goodness. Not to mention the smooth and clever change of rhythm in the middle of the song, which leads up to the peak: an illustrious organ playing done by Joseph Santangelo. Listening to that brief organ solo is a moment I could stay in forever— it gives me chills every time!

As I went through the album, I noticed how every song made me want to stop everything I was doing and just start dancing! The overall catchiness of the instrumentals in all of the songs took me by surprise—I was not used to hearing that consistently in one album.

I will briefly note three other songs off the album. The first song is titled Silver Children. This song is truly a ‘60s dream through Santangelo’s organ playing. It creates a sort of dazed and peaceful atmosphere, allowing the listener to get lost in it. This song feels like the warmth of the sun beaming down on your face on a spring day; all it can do is make you smile.

The next song is called Valley of Eyes. There is so much intensity in this song that it leaves you thinking about what exactly Steve is writing about. The obvious political undertones of this song are conjoined with powerful guitar playing and simple lyrics. When I hear this song it feels as though I am on a journey and I have reached an important part of it that can not be ignored. Valley of Eyes is an epically told quest to find answers because there is far too much violence in the world. The narrater is losing hope, but hopefully someone will listen.

I have saved my absolute favorite song for last. For the Best Offer is personally one of my favorite songs of all time. Cataldo’ s vocals on this song are beautiful! Not to mention the instrumental portion of the chorus. All of the instruments coming together in this song work together wonderfully to create this mysterious and, for lack of a better word, groovy tune. It hits the listener out of nowhere, a sudden burst of energy driven by a frenetic guitar. This song may first seem playful and trivial, but as it goes on, it puts its foot down and demands respect. This song has the best offer for your ears.

The short lived music endeavors from the Front Page Review will continue to live on for ‘60s music lovers. This album is such a treat that can not be resisted. I’d like to give a huge thank you to all the musicians involved in the making of it. It’s truly a lost treasure from the past.

Steve Cataldo: Singer/Songwriter, Guitar

Richard Bartlett: Guitar

David Weber: Drums

David Christiansen: Guitar

Thomas Belliveau: Bass

Joseph Santangelo: Organ, Piano

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