However, “Everybody Knows,” along with the 1968 one-sided 45, Shadows”—intended for a movie soundtrack—were the last hurrahs for the original Prunes. When composer David Axelrod conceived Mass in F Minor in 1968, represented on this collection by “Sanctus” and “Credo,” the plans were for the Prunes to play all the complex parts. All the members except Williams laid down some of the basic tracks and provided the vocals, but the instrumentation was augmented by other players who could work faster. Why anyone thought “Sanctus” and “Credo” would work as a single outside of the album’s context is questionable. Still, for listeners who only know Mass from "Kyrie Eleison" on the Easy Rider soundtrack, this collection offers two more samples showcasing some outstanding guitar work.
It’s equally surprising anyone thought the single “Help Us (Our Father, Our King)"/"The Adoration” from Axelrod’s next concept album, Release of An Oath, would make it on any charts. Not only were the lyrics straight-forward church liturgy—in English this time and not Latin—the emphasis was on strings, not rock. And not a single Prune is on record, most evident in the strained, raw lead vocals. Judging from the two songs chosen for the 45, Axelrod didn’t want to replicate any sounds from Mass. So why call it The Prunes?
This was even more true with 1969's Just Good Old Rock and Roll. The “new, Improved Electric Prunes” were John Herron, Ron Morgan, Mark Kincaid, Brett Wade, and Richard Whetstone, the latter two sharing lead vocals on the next rather eccentric single, “Hey, Mr. President.” New? Certainly. Improved? Ah, not even close.
The bogus Prunes also put out “Flowing Smoothly,” “Violent Rose,” “Sell,” “Love Grows,” and “Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers.” There’s not a single psychedelic guitar lead on any of them. This band seemed to have tried for a low-budget soul sound, heavy on the Hammond organ. Ultimately, the fake Prunes knew it was time to retire from the charade—it would be years before the old, but certainly improved Electric Prunes would return. For this package, the originals return for one bonus track, an ad for Vox wah-wah guitar pedals.
So how can fans assess this overview of the various incarnations of the Prunes? It’s true the liner notes are helpful with some insights on how the original sounds were created. But while based on interviews with original members, the conversations are a bit dated and didn’t address one obvious question. How did the real Electric Prunes feel about the rip-off version and how do they react to their music being assembled with material they had nothing to do with? Strangely, no one asked them before. I did, and here’s what Jim Lowe wrote: