The Electric Prunes

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The Electric Prunes
The Electric Prunes.png
The Electric Prunes in 1966
Background information
Origin San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres Acid rock, psychedelic rock, garage rock
Years active 1965–1970, 1999–2014
Labels Reprise, Radar, Heartbeat Productions, Birdman
Heartbeat
Website www.electricprunes.net
Members James Lowe
Steve Kara
Jay Dean
Walter Garces
Rocco
Past members Kenny Loggins
Michael "Quint" Fortune
Preston Ritter
James "Weasel" Spagnola
Mike Gannon
Joe Dooley
Mark Moulin
Cameron Lowe
Peter Lewis
Mark Tulin (deceased)
Ken Williams
Glen Bostic
"New Improved" Electric Prunes Members:
John Herron
Brett Wade
Ron Morgan
Mark Kincaid
Dick Whetstone

The Electric Prunes are an American rock band who first achieved international attention as an experimental psychedelic group in the late 1960s. The band performed its 1966 hit song "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)" on American Bandstand. The band is also recognized for the song "Kyrie Eleison", which was featured on the soundtrack of Easy Rider. After a period in which they had little control over their music, they disbanded for 30 years. In 1999 the band reformed. By 2001 the members had resumed recording and touring and remained active until 2011.

History[edit]

Origin[edit]

The group started in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, though during the group's long disbandment, rumors circulated that they were from Seattle. Their first hit was discovered by Seattle disk jockey Pat O'Day at KJR (AM) and was very popular in that city before it broke into the national charts. The founding members, Ken Williams (guitar), James Lowe (lead vocal, autoharp), Michael Weakley and eventually Joe Dooley (drums) and Mark Tulin (bass), called themselves The Sanctions, and later, Jim and the Lords. Soon, Dick Hargrave joined on organ, but left shortly afterwards to pursue graphic arts. Their lineup changed many times, including one lineup with Kenny Loggins.

Lowe, Tulin, Williams and Weakley were introduced to David Hassinger, then resident engineer at RCA studios, who arranged for them to record some demos at Leon Russell's home recording facility (which he called Sky Hill Studios). Hassinger also suggested they needed a new name. In response, the band produced a long list of suggestions, with "The Electric Prunes" last as a joke.

A single called "Ain't It Hard/Little Olive" was released from these sessions, and flopped.

Early success[edit]

The Prunes' next single, "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)" (1966), was chosen from material Hassinger culled from the established songwriting team of Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz. It remains their highest charting success, reaching 11 in the USA and 49 in the UK. Personnel included Jim Lowe on vocals, James "Weasel" Spagnola and Ken Williams on guitar, Mark Tulin on bass and Preston Ritter on drums. This is regarded by many[who?] as the classic Prunes lineup.

Their third single, "Get Me to the World on Time", was also successful but less so, peaking at 27 in the USA and 42 in the UK Singles Chart.[1] Both their first album, The Electric Prunes: I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night) (1967) and consisting mainly of Tucker/Mantz material, and the followup Underground (1967) which featured mainly original Prunes material, charted in the lower reaches of the Billboard charts.

By the time Underground was complete, there had been several more personnel changes. Original drummer Weakley returned to replace Ritter, and Spagnola was replaced on guitar by Mike Gannon, who appears on only two songs. Their fourth single, "Everybody Knows You're Not In Love", was recorded by this lineup, but did not appear on this album.

The Axelrod period[edit]

At the suggestion of manager Lenny Poncher, the Prunes's third album, Mass in F Minor (1968), was a psychedelicized setting of the Mass, written and produced by David Axelrod. Initial work on the arrangements was done by Mark Tulin, but it became clear during the recording that Axelrod's intentions outstripped the band's technical abilities, Jim Lowe commenting that "David Axelrod was so far above what we, as a garage band, were able to deliver."[2] The band reportedly broke up during the recording, and Axelrod completed the album using Canadian band The Collectors[3] and session musicians. A tour had been planned to follow the album release, but it was cancelled after one disastrous show at which it was obvious that the Prunes could not play the music, some of which they had seen for the first time only a few days before the concert. Nevertheless, the album became somewhat of an underground favorite. "Kyrie Eleison" from this record was used to back the dinner scene wherein Billy was trying to convince a grief-stricken Captain America to go to Mardi Gras in the movie Easy Rider.

This was followed by Release of An Oath (1968), another religious-themed work composed and arranged by Axelrod, this time combining Jewish and Christian liturgy. It was produced by David Hassinger using top session musicians for all instruments, backing the Prunes's vocal work. By this time, the original band had split up and Hassinger formed a new group, comprising Richard Whetstone, John Herron and Mark Kincaid, who had all been in a Colorado band called Climax, and Brett Wade from another of Hassinger's groups, The Collectors. This group was augmented by leading session musicians including Howard Roberts, Carol Kaye and Earl Palmer for the recording.[4]

"The New Improved" Electric Prunes[edit]

The following album Just Good Old Rock and Roll (1969) was recorded by the same group of musicians, who had been assigned the Prunes's name, although according to James Lowe the name was not legally owned by Hassinger. The album cover read 'the new improved Electric Prunes' to reflect the new lineup, although the group name remained the same. This band toured and also released a single on Reprise Records in 1969, but dissolved early in 1970.

Reissues and reformation[edit]

Through the inclusion of their classic "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)" on the seminal Nuggets compilation of 1960s psychedelic gems the Electric Prunes continued to reach new fans in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. That track in particular has been a regular of psychedelic bands through the decades including Australia's Prince Vlad & the Gargoyle Impalers in the early to mid-1980s. The track was recorded by psychedelic punks The Damned in the 1980s, under their alter ego of Naz Nomad and the Nightmares, and was also a feature of The Damned's live set in the mid-1980s. XTC, recording under the name Dukes of Stratosphear also paid homage to the song on their song "25 O'Clock" which emulates the style of the song. It was also recorded by Webb Wilder and the Beatnecks for their album Doo Dad, and featured in the "trip" sequence in Webb's movie Horror Hayride. A Patrick Cowley-produced Hi-NRG version, simply entitled "Too Much to Dream", was released in 1983 by Paul Parker as part of an album of the same name.

The late 1990s saw renewed interest in the Electric Prunes, with the release on Heartbeat Records of Stockholm, a concert recorded by the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation while the (original) Prunes were on tour there in 1967. Heartbeat also issued an early collection of recordings by The Sanctions and Jim and The Lords, recovered from unplayed 35-year-old acetates.

After a period of 30 years, the original quartet of Lowe, Tulin, Williams and Weakley met in the studio in 1999 to consider a revival. As a result Lowe, Tulin and Williams (the three who had played on all the early recordings) were joined by two new members, including James Lowe's son, to reform the band. They began touring internationally in 2001, and in 2002 released a new recording titled Artifact and a DVD album called Rewired.

In 2004 with new members Steve Kara and Jay Dean, the band embarked on a long European tour, recording the show in Stockholm, which would later, in 2012, become the Return to Stockholm album. In 2006, the band began recording and touring with a new drummer, Walter Garces. Continuing the momentum in 2006, the band with Ken Williams back in the studio released a new CD entitled Feedback.

In 2007, the rock band The Verve ran the track "Holy Are You" before their concerts.

They were mentioned in Thomas Pynchon's 2009 novel Inherent Vice (pg. 103) and receive a shoutout from James Murphy in the LCD Soundsystem single "Losing My Edge."

In 2009 & 2010, they were recording tracks with musician and producer Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. Billy joined the band on stage for Wind Up Toys at the Echoplex in Los Angeles for Sky Saxon's memorial on July 24, 2009.

On February 26, 2011, founding member Tulin collapsed while helping out at the Avalon Underwater Clean-Up in Avalon, California. Baywatch Avalon and Avalon Fire Department medics responded immediately, but he could not be revived and was pronounced dead.[5] The band went on hiatus following Tulin's death, but have since re-emerged with successful dates in Italy and Sicily in July 2013, and 2 shows in Tokyo, Japan in February 2014.

In the summer of 2014, the band released their album WaS featuring original lead singer James Lowe, the late Mark Tulin, the current band and on 2 live tracks, lead guitarist Ken Williams. This album is available exclusively through the band's website at http://electricprunes67.com/

Band members[edit]

  • James Lowe – vocals, harmonica, percussion, theremin, guitar, autoharp (1965–1968) (1999–present)
  • Steve Kara – lead guitar, vocals (2003–present)
  • Jay Dean – guitar, vocals (2004–present)
  • Walter Garces – drums (2006–present)
  • Rocco – bass, vocals (2013–present)

Former members[edit]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

U.S. singles[edit]

  • "Ain't It Hard" / "Little Olive" (Reprise 0473), 1966
  • "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)" / "Luvin" (Reprise 0532) 1966 US No. 11 – UK No. 49
  • "Get Me to the World on Time" / "Are You Lovin' Me More" (Reprise 0564), 1966, US No. 27 – UK No. 42
  • "Vox Wah-Wah Ad"(Thomas 08-000132-0), 1967
  • "Dr Do-Good" / "Hideaway"(Reprise 0594), 1967
  • "The Great Banana Hoax" / "Wind-up Toys" (Reprise 0607), 1967
  • "Everybody Knows You're Not In Love" / "You Never Had it Better" (Reprise 0652), 1968
  • "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night" / "Get Me To The World On Time" (Reprise 0704 – Double A-side), 1968
  • "Shadow" (Reprise PRO 287), 1968, one-sided single
  • "Sanctus" / "Credo" (Reprise PRO 277), 1968
  • "Help Us (Our Father, Our King)" / "The Adoration" (Reprise PRO 305), 1968
  • "Hey! Mr. President" / "Flowing Smoothly" (Reprise 0756), 1969
  • "Sell" / "Violent Rose" (Reprise 0833), 1969
  • "Love Grows" / "Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers" (Reprise 0858), 1969
  • "Hollywood Halloween" (Birdman Records BMR1313), 2001, Peter Lewis (Moby Grape) backed by The Electric Prunes)
  • "Get Me To The World On Time (Live)" (Birdman Records BMR037), 2002 (recorded at Voxfest III in June 2001)
  • "Left in Blue" (original by Azure Halo)

European singles[edit]

  • "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)" / "Luvin" (Reprise RS 20532), 1966, UK
  • "Get Me To The World On Time" / "Are You Lovin Me More (But Enjoying It Less)" (Reprise RS 20564), 1967, UK
  • "The Great Banana Hoax" / "Wind-Up Toys" (Reprise RS 20607), 1967, UK
  • "Long Days Flight" / "The King In His Counting House" (Reprise RS 23212), 1967, UK
  • "I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)" / "Luvin'" / "Little Olive" / "Ain't It Hard" (Reprise RVEP 60098), 1967, France
  • "Everybody Knows You're Not In Love" / "You Never Had It Better" (Reprise RS 20652), 1968, UK
  • "Long Day's Flight" / "Dr Do Good" / "The Great Banana Hoax" / "Captain Glory" (Reprise RVEP 60110), 1968, France
  • "Everybody Knows You're Not In Love" / "You Never Had It Better" (Reprise RV 20149), 1968, France
  • "Hey Mr President" / "Flowing Smoothly" (Reprise RV 20198), 1969, France
  • "Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)" / ("Lies" by the Knickerbockers) (Elektra K 12102), 1973 (from the Nuggets compilation), UK
  • "I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)" / "Luvin" (Radar ADA 16 – picture sleeve reissue), 1979, UK

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Long Day's Flight (Edsel Records / Demon Records), 1986, UK
  • The Singles (Gone Beat), 1995, Israel
  • Lost Dreams (Birdman Records / Heartbeat Records), 2000, US
  • The Sanctions / Jim and the Lords - Then Came the Electric Prunes (Heartbeat Productions), 2000, UK (pre-Electric Prunes recordings)
  • Too Much To Dream - Original Group Recordings: Reprise 1966-1967 (Rhino Records / Reprise Records), 2007, UK & Europe
  • The Original Albums Series, 5 CDs box set, released 2012

Various[edit]

DVDs[edit]

  • Rewired (DVD) (Snapper Music), 2002, UK

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 181. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ Interview with David Axelrod, Mojo magazine, 2001
  3. ^ "discorder | that magazine from CiTR 101.9fm". Discorder.ca. Retrieved 2012-05-11. 
  4. ^ The Electric Prunes Biography, Part 7. Accessed 10 October 2012
  5. ^ "USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber – Diving Research, Hyperbaric Treatment of Divers – Avalon, CA". Facebook. Retrieved 2012-05-11. 

External links[edit]