le prugne elettriche #0532

Compiled by Elektra impressario Jack Holzman and Lenny Kaye, it is almost impossible to overrate the spell this release wielded over a generation of apprentice troglodytes desperate to escape the indulged mainstream of the early to mid seventies. This was especially true in the UK where merely a documented association with the US underground merited appreciation.

While The Clash famously dug deep in Jamaican dub to chanel an untapped resource, it was always first and foremost the frenetic angst of the Stooges and the MC5 to the remote junkie glamour of The Velvet Underground which fueled the devolution from studio excess to the rudimentary copycat two chord thrash of punk. Rock n\’ Roll. A straight line back through Lenny Kaye himself, as an integral part of the Patti Smith Group, to Fred \”Sonic\” Smith and the anarchy of 1960\’s Detroit.

And for all that The Damned\’s guitarist Brian James wallowed in the delinquency of the Stooges\’ first two Elektra releases, Captain Sensible remained unrepentantly vocal in his allegiance to Syd Barrett\’s Pink Floyd and all things Psychedelic; if not phsychotropically deranged.

The Electric Prunes were cultivated and seasoned in the urban heat of the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, grown from the seeds of a group originally known as The Sanctions. Through their association with sound engineer, David Hassinger of RCA, the Prunes were introduced to Leon Russell who operated his own home-based Sky Hill Studios and encouraged to cut a demo. Their first single \”Ain\’t It Hard b/w Little Olive\” flopped abysmally. Their second, a composition by the established songwriting partnership of Tucker and Mantz – this time around cherrypicked by Hassinger – peaked at number 11 in the Billboard Charts. It barely scraped the Top 50 in the UK, but that alone was sufficient for it gain cult notoriety, championed as it was first by DJ John Peel and later, Annie Nightingale on BBC Radio 1.

The looping reversed guitar which opens the 45 was allegedly recorded in Russell\’s home studio on a 1958 Les Paul with a Bigsby Vibrato Unit.

Lead guitarist, Ken Williams observed:

\”We were recording on a four-track, and just flipping the tape over and re-recording when we got to the end. Dave cued up a tape and didn\’t hit \’record,\’ and the playback in the studio was way up: ear-shattering vibrating jet guitar… Forward it was cool. Backward it was amazing. I ran into the control room and said, \’What was that?\’ \”

The rest, as \”Nuggets\” attests, is punk rock history. Less kaftan and beads than homicide tainted insomnia and a trolley ride on a psychiatric wing. Quaaludes.

James Lowe: vocals; 

Ken Williams: lead guitar; 

James \”Weasel\” Spagnola: rhthym guitar;

Mark Tulin: bass;

Preston Ritter: drums.

Recorded at American Recording Company, Power House, Hollywood, CA.

Produced by David Hassinger.

THE ELECTRIC PRUNES: I HAD TOO MUCH TO DREAM (LAST NIGHT) from \”I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) b/w Luvin\’\” 45 (Reprise) 1966 (US)


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