February 26, 2015

101 Reel-to-Reel Tapes 97: Electric Prunes ~ Release of an Oath

reel-to-reel tape box cover detail
cover photo by Sid Avery
detail photo of cover by Styrous®

In addition to my 20,000 Vinyl LP collection I'm selling, I have reel-to-reel, pre-recorded tapes for sale. If interested, contact me by email please, not by a comment. 

The Electric Prunes ~ Release of An Oath , reel-to-reel tape, was for sale on eBay. I have others for sale on eBay now (see links below).    

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The Electric Prunes is an American rock band that achieved international attention as an experimental psychedelic group in the late 1960s. Its big hit was the 1966 song, I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night. The band is also recognized for the song Kyrie Eleison from the Mass in f minor.  

The founding members were Ken Williams (guitar), James Lowe (lead vocal, autoharp), Michael Weakley, Joe Dooley (drums) and Mark Tulin (bass). At first they called themselves The Sanctions, and later, Jim and the Lords.

reel-to-reel tape box cover
cover photo by Sid Avery
photo of cover by Styrous®

photographer unknown

Japanese magazine

Prunes Manager, Lenny Poncher, and Prunes producer, Dave Hassinger, struck upon the idea of an orchestral rock version of a mass in Latin. Release of An Oath is the fourth studio album by The Electric Prunes, released in 1968. Following the musical pattern of their Mass in F Minor, it is a rock music setting of a service intended to release a penitent from an oath "made under duress and in violation of his principles" (liner notes). 

The album is subtitled The Kol Nidre - a prayer of antiquity, and is often referred to simply as The Kol Nidre. The Jewish Kol Nidre prayer, on which the first track is based, remains in current use as a central part of Jewish worship.  

Despite the subtitle and popular name, the remaining tracks of the album are based on a mix of Christian and Jewish liturgies.

reel-to-reel tape box cover back
art direction by Ed Thrasher 
photo by Styrous®

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." 
(Jules B. Newman - cover of 'Release Of An Oath')

All the songs are predominantly instrumentals with very little vocal. Kol Nidre starts with a slow, mysterious and dramatic orchestra with a male chorus, 1 minute intro which goes into a moderate rock beat with orchestra then slows down with the male chorus again. This goes back and forth a couple of times; there is a very dramatic and liturgical feeling to the song as there is with most of the other ones on this album. 

Holy Are You has a slow, very quite piano start that goes into a duet with a male vocal intro. It has a very slow and dreamy feeling with some GREAT guitar work by either Howard Roberts or Lou Morrell

reel-to-reel tape box cover back detail 
art direction by Ed Thrasher 
detail photo by Styrous®

General Confessional has an organ start with an hesitant bass guitar intro that sounds very church-like, reverent feeling. This goes into a slow rock instrumental with a full orchestral backup with lots of guitar work. Three and a half minutes into the melody there is a five second male chorus, no more.

reel-to-reel tape box cover back detail 
art direction by Ed Thrasher 
detail photo by Styrous®

Individual Confessional starts suddenly with organ and drums. "For all our sins Oh, God sustain us . .  .". It is mostly instrumental with a full orchestral backup again on this one. It is faster than the General Confessional.

reel-to-reel tape box cover back detail 
art direction by Ed Thrasher 
detail photo by Styrous®

Our Father, Our King starts with a piano and bass guitar intro. It has a moderate speed rock tempo, again with the full strings backing it.

reel-to-reel tape box cover back detail 
art direction by Ed Thrasher 
detail photo by Styrous®

The Adoration opens with organ, guitar and orchestra. It is a moderate speed, gently syncopated piece with great organ, drums and guitar work. 

Closing Hymn starts suddenly with organ, drum, bass guitar. A slow march beat with full orchestral backup. This song has the most vocal to it. 

reel-to-reel tape label detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Track listing

All tracks composed by David Axelrod

Side 1: 
  1. "Kol Nidre" 4.14
  2. "Holy Are You" 4.05
  3. "General Confessional" 4.15
Side 2: 
  1. "Individual Confessional" 2.10
  2. "Our Father, Our King" 3.10
  3. "The Adoration" 3.48
  4. "Closing Hymn" 2.53


According to Wikipedia, although credited to the Electric Prunes, the album is largely the work of composer and producer David Axelrod and a group of session musicians. Personnel included:
Only the vocals appear to have been recorded by the band members.  

More info about the Electric Prunes on Classic Bands   
Great photos of & more info on the Electric Prunes here
More info about Release of an Oath on the Jewish Quarterly   

Electric Prunes songs on YouTube:        

I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) on the Dick Clark show   
links to Mass in f minor  

Release of an Oath music on YouTube:    

Kol Nidre    
Holy Are You     
Closing Hymn   

The Electric Prunes ~ Release of an Oath, reel-to-reel tape, was for sale on eBay 

Other reel-to-reel tapes now for sale on eBay     

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