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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Electric Prunes

WaS

Review by Gary Hill

Between starting work on this album and getting it finished and released, Electric Prunes’ bassist Mark Tulin passed away. It would have been easy to scrap the disc. Ultimately, though, Prunes’ singer James Lowe decided to finish the disc, somewhat as a tribute to Tulin. It certainly seems like what Tulin would have wanted. This album of Electric Prunes psychedelic rock is a great tribute to Tulin’s memory. I’m sure he’d love it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Smokestack Lightning

Noisy elements bring this into being. After a time the rhythm section rises up and the piece comes together gradually. After the first verse it powers up into more of a psychedelic rock meets blues treatment. There are some elements of The Animals being channeled here, but perhaps combined with Blue Cheer. I love the harmonica and the guitar solo. Flute is a nice touch, too.

Tokyo
Energized space rock is the idea here. This one feels quite  a bit like Hawkwind to me. Still, it’s the Prunes. That Hawkwind concept is definitely less pronounced as this moves ahead. It’s got some great vocal hooks and a killer modernization of psychedelic rock styles.
Beauty Queen
In some ways this is metallic. In other ways, though, it reminds me of early Alice Cooper. It’s got a bit of a creepy edge to the sound. This is pure psychedelia, though. It’s very cool stuff. It has some purely inspired instrumental work on it.
Like Getting High
Hard rocking psychedelia, this is good stuff, but perhaps not as strong as the pieces that preceded it. The instrumental section really rocks, though.
The Girl Who Crashed My Dream
The section that opens this makes me think of Tom Petty a bit for some reason. Somehow, there is a bit of that Tom Petty vibe throughout the song to me. That said, this is still psychedelic rock, but with a bit more emphasis on the “rock” part of the equation. It’s also still trademark Electric Prunes.
Frozen Winter
The opening of this really reminds me of Iron Butterfly. It works out to another high energy psychedelic rock jam. There is a bit of a punk edge to it, too. The late track instrumental section definitely reminds me a bit of Hawkwind at times.
Circles
Here’s another cool slab of quintessential Electric Prunes psychedelia. This one is quite trippy.
Between the Cracks
Neil Young and Crazy Horse is a valid reference here. This hard rocking number is fuzz-laden and quite cool. Of course, even though it occupies similar territory as Young and his crunch band do, it’s still recognizable as The Prunes. This is one of the coolest numbers here. In fact, it might be my favorite.
Blue Sky / Red Dress
This one is a solid tune, but not a standout by any means. It’s just a pretty standard Electric Prunes bit of psychedelic rock. Of course, that’s still pretty good.
Love Fade Away
Although there are no huge changes here, this one is one of the better tunes on show here. There’s a spoken tribute to Mark Tulin here. That, even if the song was weaker, would make this one special. As it is, it comes as icing on a delicious cake.
Bullet Thru the Backseat
There’s a bit of a rock and roll vibe here. I can hear some of that Tom Petty thing to a small degree, too. This isn’t one of the standouts, but it works pretty well. It’s a live recording.
Adoration Stuck
There are some great moments on this number. It has a punky vibe to it at times. It’s one of the most dynamic and diverse pieces here. There are mellower sections and more rocking ones.
Hollywood Hype
Somehow this makes me think of Frank Zappa, specifically "Trouble Every Day.” Of course, that’s a good thing.
Don't Sneeze On Me
This one seems to go on too long and isn’t good enough to deserve that kind of time devoted. It’s another that’s just sort of middle of the road.
Oh My My
Folk, psychedelia and punk rock seem to merge on this piece. It’s another that’s good, but not a real highlight.

 

 
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