The Electric Prunes

The Electric Prunes  are an American rock band who first achieved international attention as an experimental psychedelic group in the late 1960’s.  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.  In 1999 the band reformed.  By 2001 the members had resumed recording and touring and remained active until 2011.  (More from Wikipedia)
Dirty Water” by the Standells made it to #11 on the national charts, and this landmark garage rock song was placed on Nuggets (the very first garage rock/psychedelic rock compilation album, released in 1972) as the second track, right after I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night) by the Electric Prunes.
(October 2010)
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Even before I played Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968 the first time, I knew I would love it, because I was already familiar with a lot of these bands.  In fact, I picked up the debut albums by Blues Magoos and the Electric Prunes in the same shipment from Columbia Record Club back when; and it wasn’t long before I also had the first album by the Shadows of Knight, with their killer cover of Van Morrison’s
Gloria”.  The Seeds’ “Pushin’ Too Hard” was another favorite, though it was awhile before I got an album.
(January 2011)
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American teenagers (mostly white suburban kids) were also invigorated by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and all the rest; and they responded by launching a counter-assault, when seemingly every kid in America wanted to be in a band.  This era is now known as the garage rock era (that was the most available practice space for most of these would-be rock stars, hence the name); this time period also saw the beginnings of the psychedelic rock movement on both sides of the Atlantic.  I didn’t know exactly what I was hearing at the time, but the music by bands like the SeedsBlues Magoos, the Electric PrunesQuestion Mark and the Mysteriansthe StandellsCount Five, and Strawberry Alarm Clock (among many other bands) was grabbing me almost immediately.  I don’t know that I even realized immediately how bizarre many of these American band names were, as compared to those of British Invasion bands like the AnimalsFreddie and the Dreamers, and the Dave Clark Five
Thankfully, in 1972 (though if I’m not mistaken, the album was actually not released in the US until 1976), Lenny Kaye – later the guitarist for the seminal Patti Smith Group – helped assemble hit songs by all of these diverse bands plus plenty more into what is now regarded as one of the greatest compilation albums of all times:  Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968.  It remains one of my favorite records, and I have spoken of it several times before in these posts. 
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The Skywalkers learned about the 1960’s music scene through early Pink Floyd albums and the Soft Machine, and no doubt the rich musical heritage in their home country.  Their musical vision was to fuse garage and psychedelic music together, but always with a pop sensibility; as they put it in the interview:  “We like psychedelic music but it has to have a pop character as well.  Think of bands like  the Electric PrunesLove and Strawberry Alarm ClockTomorrow.  Our favorite years in music are 1966 and 1967, where garage and psychedelic music just came together.  Our favourite subgenre is Baroque Pop with artists like Billy NichollsSagittariusthe Millenniumand of course the Zombies.”  I would add to that list a rather under-appreciated American band called the Left Banke, who had a lovely hit song in 1967, “Walk Away Renee”. 
The charming liner notes are entitled “The Skywalkers ABC”, and it still took me a while to realize that they were in alphabetical order.  It wasn’t just a list of “thank you’s” either; they included some commentary with their influences.  They include a lot of familiar bands and artists (at least to me) – Brian Wilson (“for his amazing ballads”),  the Electric Prunes (“they got us to the world on time”), Syd Barrett (“for leading us into the sixties”), the Zombies (“the greatest ever”), Q65 (“and other Dutch freakbeat groups”) – but others that I don’t know at all, like Ola & the Janglers and Jan Breimer.  Their “X” item was “Careful with that X, Eugene!”, a take-off on an early Pink Floyd hit, “Careful with that Axe, Eugene”.  But the list started with Aliens (“what’s taking them so long?”) and also includes the Monkey (“[Jacco Gardner]’s favorite dance move”), the Twist (“[Hugo van de Poel]’s favorite dance move”), their photographer Luuk Muller (“for making us look good”), their organ brand Philicorda (“the greatest instrument around”), the Universe (“the greatest place around”), and “You, for buying this record”. 
(January 2013)
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I was born a couple of years later than Greg Shaw, so I turned 14 in 1965.  By then, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were old news; and while I was still paying attention, what was really grabbing me at the time were American artists and bands.  First and foremost was Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan; that song – plus the flip side “Gates of Eden” that was nearly as long and every bit as good – captivated me in a way that I just couldn’t keep quiet about.  Other great folk-rock sounds of that period included the release of the cover of Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” by the Byrds and the revamped The Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel.  Bob Dylan himself preferred the Byrds’ cover to his own recording of “Mr. Tambourine Man; but in my usual contrarian way, I preferred Dylan’s original – it was a lot longer for one thing. 


These songs were followed closely by the glorious sounds of garage rock and psychedelic rock that were then in their infancy.  Songs like “Pushin’ Too Hard” by the Seeds(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet by Blues Magoos, and “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night) by the Electric Prunes really made an impression on me.  It wasn’t until I picked up the Nuggets collection and then the numerous Pebbles albums that I plumbed the depths of this scene, but it was by no means brand new to me either. 

(May 2013)
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The Nuggets album collected the garage rock and psychedelic rock hits and would-be hits from the mid-1960’s from bands like the Electric Prunes, Blues Magoos, the Standells, the Seeds, etc. There are some omissions, but Nuggets is as good an overview of this scene as there is. “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians, is the missing song that always comes to mind for me (that song didn’t even make the Nuggets Box Set, though it was on the list for the Nuggets, Volume 2 album that was programmed but never released). Interestingly, Wikipedia notes: “One of the earliest written uses of the ‘punk’ term was by critic Dave Marsh who used it in 1970 to describe the group Question Mark and the Mysterians, who had scored a major hit with their song ‘96 Tears’ in 1966.” Here is what I have to say about this album: .
(December 2016)
Last edited: March 22, 2021