It was August of 1967 when Psychedelic Garage band The Electric Prunes released their second studio album Underground, just six months after their self-titled debut. The big difference here: musical freedom. Unlike The Electric Prunes, which had one original composition, Underground includes nine original compositions. This was a huge step up for the band that had resulted from their producer Dave Hassinger being absent from most of the sessions. And while the producing on this album may leave listeners to fill in the gaps, it is also this producing that gives this album it's grit and glory.
Flashback to March of 1967 and we see the Velvet Underground release their debut The Velvet Underground & Nico. I bring this up because it seems odd to me that the Electric Prunes would call their second album Underground and have the first song on that album be called "The Great Banana Hoax" like the cover below.
Maybe this is just a coincidence, but who's to say.
Back to the Electric Prunes. Underground opens with the biggest sounding hit on the album "The Great Banana Hoax." Although there was no single picked to release from this album, which would later prove to be a bad thing, "The Great Banana Hoax" rumbles open the album with heavy drums and droning organ. After a quiet guitar and vocal break, the song comes back with loud percussion in the right speaker, distracting you from the rest of the song.
A classic psychedelic tune is next with "Children of Rain." Perhaps a more vocal centered tune with the signature fuzz guitar of the late 1960s, an eerie yet catchy track with the ending jumping into a whirl of what sounds like wind.
"Wind-Up Toys" follows with high pitched vocals and tremolo filled guitar, a huge inspiration to the later garage psych bands like White Fence and Thee Oh Sees.
A theme seems likely with the 4th song being "Antique Doll", which could fit with the two previous tunes. The Electric Prunes do a great job of capturing droning like noises to infuse with their tracks. The drums are especially interesting on this track with the drums serving as accents on the verses and a beat keeper for the choruses.
The tempo is changed with country tune "It's Not Fair", arguably the best produced track on the album. To end the first side of Underground we get "I Happen To Love You", a detest of love in a very psychedelic way. If any track captures 1967 on this record, it's this one with the track ringing sounds like the 13 Floor Elevators and other Texan psych rock bands of the 1960s.
To open up the second side of Underground we hear "Dr. Do-Good", a dark and heavy cover song. Next is the longest song on the album "I", clocking in at over five minutes. This is your classic instance of jam filled psych music with wispy vocals, definitely the best lyrical song on the album with heavy bass and drums throughout the whole track.
"Hideaway" is next with heavy guitars and bass. The lead guitar follows the vocals throughout the tune, sort of like "Paint it Black" by the Rolling Stones. The drums stand out the most, exploding in the left speaker.
"Big City" maybe be the eeriest track on the album with the odd autoharp being slightly out of tune with the other instruments. Without the autoharp, "Big City" might be just another average pop tune for it's time.
Rock groover "Capt. Glory" is next with a swing beat and a harmonica. An interesting cover song to include on the album with a bluesy contrast, unlike the rest of the album.
The final song on Underground is "Long Day's Flight", which rings the feel of the first track, but with more energy with a fast tempo and soulful vocals. They also say the albums title in this song, which may bear some significance.
One more thing I noticed was the back covers inscription by the word Underground where it says "Travel Up To The" and then "Underground" in larger letters. I'm unsure as to whether this was a subtitle for the album or not, it could even be a hopeful message for themselves as they hoped to travel up to underground music.
Overall I give this album a 7.5 out of 10. After a few listens this album has started to grow on me more. I dislike some of the cover choices for I feel it messes up the flow of the album, but nonetheless, The Electric Prunes stepped up their game on this hearty second studio album.
- Ryne's Reviews.