As fascinating as their name implies, the Electric Prunes thrived on experimentation.
Hailing from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County, the band signed a deal with the Reprise label, and this packet promotes the singles they recorded for the roster. Released between the years 1966 and 1969, such tracks examine the group’s voyage from garage punks to psychedelic explorers to steel-throated rockers, not to mention forays into stuff so quirky that it simply refuses to be categorized.
Sequenced in chronological order, The Complete Reprise Singles informs us the Electric Prunes, like the majority of bands of the day, were sold on the bluesy beat sounds echoing across the pond. Raw, raggedy and righteously raunchy, “Little Olive” and “Ain’t It Hard” clearly owe a snotty snarl and a blow of a harmonica to the Rolling Stones, Them and the Pretty Things.
Come early 1967, the Electric Prunes notched a #11 winner with the positively paralyzing “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night).” Spurred by a shot of buzzing reverb, followed by eerie vocals spewing lysergic imagery and distorted guitars, the stunning song twirls and curls with mesmerizing measures. A few months later, the frighteningly frenzied “Get Me To The World On Time” reached the #27 spot on the national charts.
Although the Electric Prunes did not reap any further hit records, they continued to create phenomenal music. For instance, there’s “Are You Loving Me More,” which expertly blends garage rock aggression with acid-spiked trimmings, while the chilling “Hideaway” exerts a cool and snaky Middle Eastern vibe.
Clingy pop melodies, surrounded by impeccably groomed harmonies dominate the Hollies styled “Everybody Knows You’re Not In Love,” and “You Never Had It Better” roars and soars to an ear-splitting explosion of charging rhythms and pile-driving power chords.
Then the unthinkable happened. A totally new crew of musicians were brought in to replace the Electric Prunes, and they recorded a religious concept album, “Mass In F Minor” that was stranger than strange. One critic described the disc as tone-deaf monks singing Gregorian chants, and apparently the public felt the same way because it stiffed on the vine.
Despite the dumbfounding response to the holy escapades, the chapter two version of the Electric Prunes plugged on. Fueled by hard rocking motions, peppered with occasional strains of funk and white bread blues, “Hey Mr. President,” “Flowing Smoothly,” “Love Grows” and “Finders Keepers Losers Weepers” were decent efforts but did little to revive interest in the band. The original members of the Electric Prunes then reunited in 2002, and since then have cut a trio of utterly fantastic albums that remain loyal to their initial warped but wonderful vision.
A fine summary of a band that matters, The Complete Reprise Singles is required listening for the musically adventurous.