Last month I reported on a neat find: a lovely purple vinyl reissue of The Electric Prunes’ fab first album for about $11!
Another music writer friend contacted me after reading my review, urging me to check out The Electric Prunes’ second album, Underground.
I had never heard this disc and rarely remembered seeing it even in collector’s shops. According to the Wiki, this album features mostly original tracks written by the band, as opposed to the first album, which had the hits written by professional songwriters.
However, remembering seeing it in the stacks at Amoeba Records, I went back and purchased a copy for about $12! Like the first album reissue, this is also on colored vinyl (mine is lovely clear royal blue).
The pressings are again well made (and thick) by Rhino, including multi-colored pink-green-yellow period Reprise Records labels and original cover art.
The sound is very much of the time, but it sounds really solid overall, presenting a four-piece psychedelic rock band in all its early, tripped-out glory, employing the latest effects of the era — tremolo on the amplifiers, distortion, echo, etc.
In some ways, Underground rings a bit more true than its predecessor showing a band following their artistic muse instead of record label directives. Underground is indeed a more mature — or shall we say, “experienced” — authentic-sounding psychedelic album, with a bunch of cool tunes that are nowhere near as calculated as the (admittedly equally appealing, but different) psych-pop of the first album. It sounds like these guys had been well informed and were listening to early recordings by The Velvet Underground, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Mothers of Invention, and Pink Floyd.
Album opener “The Great Banana Hoax” kicks off things on a rocking note. “Wind Up Toys” sounds like a cross between Love and perhaps even The Monkees. They even dive into a bit of country/western fun with “It’s Not Fair,” possibly a response to The Beatles’ country/western nod of a couple years earlier (“Act Naturally”). I would love to hear Prince cover “I Happen To Love You,” with its hushed whispered lines and spartan reverb-drenched arrangement. “Dr. Do-Good” sounds like a remake of “Sold to the Highest Bidder” from their first album by way of The Beatles’ Dr. Robert. “Hideaway” compacts The Doors (“The End”) and Piper-era Pink Floyd (“Interstellar Overdrive,” “Astronomy Dominae”) into a less-than-three-minute journey. “Long Day’s Flight” closes the album on a high note — if you will — recalling The Byrd’s “Eight Miles High” along the way.
Even the album art shows the influence of the times, with a back cover that at once recalls flipside art of The Beatles’ Revolver and Pink Floyd’s Piper at The Gates of Dawn, as well as The Grateful Dead’s first LP and Are you Experienced by Jimi Hendrix.
If you liked the first one, or if you just like early psychedelic rock from the ’60s in general, you’re probably gonna dig The Electric Prunes’ Underground.