Psychedelic-Rock'n'roll: The Electric Prunes - I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) (PSYCHEDELIC 60s GARAGE PUNK US 1967)

26 February 2009

The Electric Prunes - I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) (PSYCHEDELIC 60s GARAGE PUNK US 1967)

electric_prunes,i_had_too_much_a_dream_last_night,garage,psychedelic-rocknroll,hassinger,tucker,fuzz,vox,wah_wah,underground,Tulin,lowe,williams,weakley,front"THE ELECTRIC PRUNES - I HAD TOO MUCH TO DREAM (LAST NIGHT)" (PSYCHEDELIC 60s GARAGE PUNK US 1967)

Guitarist "James Lowe", bassist "Mark Tulin", lead guitarist "Ken Williams" and drummer "Michael Weakley" were practicing in a Garage one day when a real estate agent named "Barbara Harris" heard them.
She approached "Electric Prunes" and said that she knew someone in the record business and that she could introduce them to him.
That someone turned out to be "Dave Hassinger", the resident engineer at RCA Records, who had helped record many of "The Rolling Stones"' albums.

"Dave Hassinger" sent them over to "Leon Russell"'s house to record some demos.
"Leon Russell" had installed recording facilities in his house; from the demos recorded at Russell's house, came the first "Electric Prunes" single - a cover version of The Gypsy Trips's song "Ain't It Hard", backed with a "James Lowe" penned song called "Little Olive".
The single was a total flop, but luckily, the brass at Warner / Reprise Records liked what they heard and gave the band a second chance.
It was about this time that "Preston Ritter" replaced "Michael Weakley" on drums and "James Spagnola" was added on rhythm guitar.

electric_prunes,i_had_too_much_a_dream_last_night,garage,psychedelic-rocknroll,hassinger,tucker,fuzz,vox,wah_wah,underground,Tulin,lowe,williams,weakley,spagnola,promoConvinced that "Electric Prunes" couldn't write their own songs, "Dave Hassinger" brought in some material by professional songwriters "Annette Tucker" and "Nancie Mantz".
One of those tunes was "I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night", a song that was originally conceived as a slow piano ballad.

The single was released in November 1966 and peaked at number 11 in early 1967.
It also reached number 49 in the UK charts.

electric_prunes,i_had_too_much_a_dream_last_night,garage,psychedelic-rocknroll,hassinger,tucker,fuzz,vox,wah_wah,underground,Tulin,lowe,williams,weakley,spagnolaThe Electric Prunes: "I Had Too Much To Dream" / "Luvin'" Spain, Reprise Hispovox H 148

That was obvious right from the opening hook: a slowly swelling, backwards burst of VOX Fuzztone tremolo guitar, announcing the record's arrival like a supersonic bee swooping into your speakers.
And few hits jam so many ideas into three minutes.

"The beginning of that song is Dave Hassinger groaning through a microphone, into the tremolo on a "Fender Amplifier", reveals "James Lowe".
"It creates pulse-like overtones that sound like strings". Adds "Mark Tulin": "The 'spaceship' at the end was created by riding the high E of a guitar up to the last fret, where we matched the note with an oscillator and had it take off from there.
As far as the "Bo Diddley" beat, we were definitely aware of using it.
That beat is an atavistic rhythm"

The backbone of the track, for all its oddness, is a catchy Pop-Rock melody, which got the disc all the way up to #11 on the national charts in early 1967.
It was a strange, compelling record, enshrined as a permanent classic when "Lenny Kaye" chose it as the opening track for the "Nuggets Series" of 1960s Garage Psychedelia.
It was also the taster for an impressive, though erratic, debut album that would continue to mix Pop, Blues, and Garage rock with exotic combinations of Psychedelic sounds and effects, with results ranging from desultory to thrilling.

The success of this single brought "The Electric Prunes" instant success and the band toured constantly.

As a follow-up single, "The Electric Prunes" released "Get Me To The World On Time".
Unfortunately, the single didn't do as well commercially as "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night" in the US but still reached a respectable number 27 and number 42 in UK.

The success of these two singles led to numerous concert appearances around which the band fitted hurried recording sessions which culminated in the release of their debut LP in April 1967 - "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night".

electric_prunes,i_had_too_much_a_dream_last_night,garage,psychedelic-rocknroll,hassinger,tucker,fuzz,vox,wah_wah,underground,Tulin,lowe,williams,weakley,nuggetsFew rock singles are as simultaneously experimental and commercial as "The Electric Prunes"' "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)".

Although "The Electric Prunes" were already writing and recording original material, for the second single, producer "Dave Hassinger" would call upon two outside songwriters, "Annette Tucker" and "Nancie Mantz".

On the one hand, much of the album built around the two hits was admirable in eclecticism, its resemblance to the singles insured by having "Annette Tucker" with "Nancie Mantz" supply much of the material.
"Are You Loving Me More (and Enjoying It Less)", with its dramatic stop-start tempos, and "Try Me on For Size", on which the band sound like a way-out-there "Paul Revere & The Raiders" (with "Rolling Stones"' Aftermath-style marimba, no less), were additional tense, sex-charged rockers.

On the other hand, there were vaudeville-style numbers ("About a Quarter to Nine", "Tunerville Trolley"), mediocre baroque pop ("The King is in the Counting House"), and a sentimental teen pop ballad ("Onie", which like "Are You Loving Me More" has lead vocals by Weasel).
To "The Electric Prunes"' frustration, only two of their original compositions were used: "Luvin'", a bluesy number, and the impressively Jazz-Psychedelic "Train to Tomorrow", whose instrumental coda, with "Ken Williams"' lead guitar.


see also "The Electric Prunes - Underground" (Raw Psychedelic 60s Garage US 1967)