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Music Review: The Electric Prunes – The Complete Reprise Singles

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It was just another football victory dance during the late fall of my junior year in high school. Let me add that we had victory dances whether we won or lost. Since I did not have a girlfriend at the time, nor any prospects of one in the immediate future, I just sat and listened to the music. It is amazing what the mind remembers and what it discards, but I remember the dee-jay announcing that he was going to play a brand new single. It was my first exposure to the Electric Prunes as “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)” blasted from the speakers. It was like nothing in my modest record collection at the time, but a few days later I tracked down a copy at a local record store. It was one of my first excursions outside the British Invasion and American pop sounds of the day, as it introduced me to psychedelic and garage rock.

The band literally had two careers before disbanding. During the late 1960s they came under the tutelage of David Axelrod and issued two fascinating and what best can be described as art rock albums. Mass in F Minor and Release Of An Oath used different musicians than their early Reprise label line-up of vocalist James Lowe, lead guitarist Ken Williams, guitarist James Spagnola, bassist Mark Tulin, and drummer Preston Ritter. Lowe, Williams, and Tulin reformed the band during 2003.

The Electric Prunes would only have two singles reach the Billboard Magazine Pop Singles Chart. The aforementioned “I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night” and the gritty “Get Me To The World On Time” would be the extent of their commercial success. While I bought a couple of their singles in addition to their two hits, little did I realize that they continued to issue singles long after their success had waned in the United States.

Real Gone Music has closed a gap in the evolution of the American psychedelic and garage rock era by resurrecting all 23 of their Reprise label single sides plus “Vox Wah Wah Pedal Radio Spot.” The sound has been cleaned up, but they are all presented in their glorious original mono sound.

Their sound was primitive in places and raw in others. Songs such as “Ain’t It Hard,” “Little Olive,” “The Great Banana Hoax,” “Violent Rose,” and “Hey Mr. President” may be from another era, but they present an important element of the music of the 1960’s.

The included booklet contains a history of the group, track commentary by the band, and a number of rare photos provided by lead singer James Lowe.

The Electric Prunes may have been a footnote in the evolution of American rock music but they filled an important niche. The Complete Reprise Singles is a welcome addition to the musical legacy of the 1960s.

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