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Archive for the ‘The Electric Prunes’ Category

Morello Reissues The Electric Prunes’ “Mass” and “Oath” On One CD

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Electric Prunes - Mass and Release

Cherry Red’s Morello label has taken a break from its usual diet of classic country – think: the legendary likes of George Jones, Marty Robbins and Charley Pride – to bring two titles from the psych-rockers The Electric Prunes back into print.  The label has paired The Prunes’ 1968 David Axelrod-produced albums Mass in F Minor and Release of an Oath on one CD which is now available.

Composed and arranged by the maverick Axelrod – on loan from Capitol Records – Mass in F Minor is perhaps best-remembered today for its opening track, “Kyrie Eleison.”  Axelrod’s composition – translated as “Lord, have mercy” and a psychedelic resetting of an important Christian prayer – earned a measure of cinematic immortality when it was used in the film Easy Rider.  But “Kyrie” and Mass weren’t the work of the same Electric Prunes who scored a No. 11 Pop hit with the 1967 nugget “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night).”  The band’s original line-up of Ken Williams (guitar), Jim Lowe (vocals/autoharp), Mark Tulin (bass) and Michael Weakley (drums) was in a near-constant state of flux since its signing to Reprise Records.  Even that hit single lacked the participation of Weakley and added James Spagnola on guitar and Preston Ritter on drums.   During the recording of Mass, the band splintered again, and Jim Lowe once commented that “Axelrod was so far above what we as a garage band were able to deliver.”  Mass – with other segments of Axelrod’s religious service including “Gloria,” “Credo,” “Sanctus,” “Benedictus” and “Agnus Dei” – was completed by members of The Collectors and various session musicians.  An iteration of the “real” Prunes attempted to play the complex album onstage, but a planned tour was cancelled after just one performance.

Seemingly undeterred, producer Dave Hassinger and arranger-composer Axelrod persevered with another spiritually-inclined album to follow up Mass under The Electric Prunes’ name.  Read about it after the jump.  Plus: order links and full track listings! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 3, 2013 at 10:12

Reviews: Three From Real Gone – The Electric Prunes, Timi Yuro, The New Christy Minstrels

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It might be tough to find three artists as different as Timi Yuro, The Electric Prunes and The New Christy Minstrels, but all three have been treated with similar care on recent projects from Real Gone Music!

The Electric Prunes, The Complete Reprise Singles (Real Gone Music OPCD-8574, 2012)

In the annals of the One-Hit Wonder, one might stumble upon the name of The Electric Prunes. The group achieved notoriety (and a No. 11 pop hit!) with the original Nugget “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night),” a fuzz-drenched slab of prime ’67 psychedelia, but never repeated the impact of that garage-rocking explosion of sound.  In actuality, there was another minor hit, and a number of further singles, though not all were actually by The Electric Prunes, despite being credited to the band.  Confused?  Don’t be.  Real Gone Music chronicles the entire far-out singles output of the Los Angeles band, in full-bodied mono, on the Prunes’ new Complete Reprise Singles collection, but the story behind the scenes is as fascinating as the music itself.  Although Reprise viewed the Prunes as a commercial outfit, the group had a determined experimental streak that led to a number of innovative singles but may also have contributed to its downfall.

The quintet promisingly followed up “Too Much to Dream” with (the My Fair Lady-inspired?) “Get Me to the World on Time,” an even more outré track with a Bo Diddley shuffle married to spacey sound effects and freak-out lyrics.  Like “Too Much to Dream,” it was written by Annette Tucker.  The already accomplished songwriter (who also placed songs with Tom Jones, Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon and Sonny and Cher) wrote “Dream” with Nancie Mantz, and “World” with Jill Jones.  But the group’s heady brew of kooky garage experimentalism might have reached its nadir with just its fourth single, Tucker and Mantz’s cacophonic “Dr. Do-Good.”  The peculiar lyrics are sung in Looney Tunes voices with producer Dave Hassinger contributing a devilish laugh at the song’s end.  But Hassinger and the band weren’t laughing when the song only hit No. 128 on the charts, and Complete Singles chronicles The Prunes’ attempts to regain their footing, with more dark whimsy (“The Great Banana Hoax”) and even straightforward pop-rock (“Everybody Knows (You’re Not in Love)”).  Singer James Lowe and bassist Mark Tulin came into their own as songwriters with these strong tracks, but it was too late for The Electric Prunes.

There’s more on the Prunes, plus Timi Yuro and The New Christy Minstrels after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 24, 2012 at 12:24

Release Round-Up: Week of June 26

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The Beat, I Just Can’t Stop It Wha’ppen? Special Beat Service: Deluxe Editions (Edsel)

The Beat’s discography is expanded in the U.K. by Edsel in fashionable 2 CD/1 DVD editions. (Don’t forget: a similar five-disc box is coming out from Shout! Factory in the U.S. next month.)

The Miracles, Renaissance Do It Baby (Hip-o Select/Motown)

The first two post-Smokey LPs by The Miracles on one CD.

The Electric Prunes, The Complete Reprise Singles / The New Christy Minstrels, A Retrospective 1962-1970 / The Tokens, It’s a Happening World: Deluxe Edition / Timi Yuro, The Complete Liberty Singles / Rita Pavone, The International Teen-Age Sensation (Real Gone)

A veritable ’60s bonanza from our pals at Real Gone, including some international rarities, an expanded Tokens LP and some singles compilations.

Deniece Williams, NiecyI’m So Proud: Expanded Editions / KC and The Sunshine Band, KC and The Sunshine Band: Expanded Edition (Big Break)

U.K. label Big Break’s offerings today: expanded editions of Deniece’s last two pre-Footloose LPs and the disco band’s breakthrough disc.

Teena Marie, Emerald City Naked to the World: Expanded Editions (Soul Music)

Two high points in Lady T’s late-’80s work for Epic, newly expanded from Cherry Red’s Soul Music label.

It’s A Happening World: Real Gone Announces Sixties Bonanza of Electric Prunes, Tokens, Timi Yuro, More

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It will be a sixties flashback on June 26 when Real Gone Music ushers in the summer with five releases from that golden decade of music.  “Complete Singles” collections are due from experimental rockers The Electric Prunes and big-voiced soul queen Timi Yuro, and the label is also anthologizing the legendary folk group The New Christy Minstrels.  Last but certainly not least, two original LPs are being remastered and expanded: an outré pop classic from The Tokens and the debut of “international teen-age sensation” Rita Pavone.

One of the most indelible of the Nuggets compiled by Lenny Kaye for the original 1972 compilation of psychedelic garage-rock “artyfacts” – and indeed, the first cut on the seminal anthology – was The Electric Prunes’ “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night.”  That No. 11 hit was only the Prunes’ second single, but it announced that the Seattle, Washington-formed band had plenty to say.  The story of the Prunes is a tumultuous one, with dominating producers (Dave Hassinger, David Axelrod) shaping the band’s sound and identity through a variety of changes to both the group sound’s and its line-up.  Yet the remarkably diverse music released under the Electric Prunes name has endured thanks to its consistently high quality.  The Complete Reprise Singles compiles for the very first time all 23 of the band’s Reprise single sides.  The Prunes’ music was described by band members James Lowe and Mark Tulin in 2007 as “Electric, eclectic, sinister, existential, whimsical, [and] innocent,” and all of those qualities are very much in evidence on these singles.  They’re presented in their original mono mixes, and Richie Unterberger supplies sleeve notes including commentary from the band and photos of the original singles.  And as a bonus, you’ll hear the Prunes’ demonstration of the Vox Wah-Wah Pedal!  The Complete Reprise Singles should make the perfect companion to Rhino U.K.’s 2007 compilation Too Much to Dream: Original Group Recordings 1966-1967, which presented the group’s first two LPs in expanded form.

The next artist to receive Real Gone’s “Complete Singles” treatment is Timi Yuro (1940-2004).  The Complete Liberty Singles is described by the label as the first to feature original mono single mixes rather than “after-the-fact stereo remixes or album tracks.”  This 2-CD collection includes for the first time the A- and B-sides of all of the U.S. singles Timi released on Liberty Records during her two stints with the label, , all remastered at Capitol Studios.   Despite her young age, the Chicago-born Yuro’s style was deeply soulful, influenced by R&B and jazz vocal greats.  In addition to her signature 1961 hit “Hurt,” The Complete Liberty Singles features Phil Spector’s uncredited production of “What’s A Matter Baby (Is It Hurting You),” the rare single and Northern soul favorite “It’ll Never Be Over for Me/As Long as There Is You” and the early Burt Bacharach/Hal David song “The Love of a Boy,” also arranged by Bacharach.  The set’s co-producer Ed Osborne writes the liner notes and supplies a singles discography along with photos.

Hit the jump to see what’s coming from The Tokens, The New Christy Minstrels and Rita Pavone! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 15, 2012 at 13:31