June 2000 saw the release of another Electric Prunes album on the Heartbeat Label from Bristol, England. Original straight to disc recordings of the Electric Prunes, when they were just forming as The Sanctions and Jim and The Lords in 1965, were found hidden away and unplayed for over 35 years. Simon Edwards, owner of Heartbeat Productions, was left with the task to trying to salvage the recordings on the acetates. The successful clean-up operation produced a commercially released album on vinyl record and CD - 'Then Came The Electric Prunes'.
In February 2001, Birdman Records, owned by a Reprise employee David Katz-Nelson, released the long awaited compilation LP 'Lost Dreams' - containing alternate takes, studio conversations and rare tracks.
Following on from the success of the 'Lost Dreams' compliation LP, the original members of the Electric Prunes announced in May 2001 that they were going to play a live set at the Voxfest III festival held annually in Riverside, California on June 16th, 2001. Interest in this concert was at fever-pitch since it was the first gig to be played by the original members since the band split up way back in 1968.
The line-up for the Vintage Gear Expo & Music Festival at Riverside was :
James Lowe - vocals, guitar, harmonica
Mark Tulin - bass guitar
Ken Williams - lead guitar
Joe Dooley - drums
Mark Moulin - rhythm guitar
Cameron Lowe - keyboards
New material was blended with old in the half hour set. They played five Electric Prunes songs from the 60s - 'I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)', 'You Never Had It Better', 'I Happen To Love You', 'Long Days Flight' and an extended version of 'Get Me to The World on Time' that ended in a monster crescendo. They also played two new songs - 'Lost Dream' and 'The Dream I Had Last Night' (a Randy Neuman song engineered by James Lowe in the 70s) - that were excellent as well and flowed very well with the old stuff. There was a lot of reverb on James Lowe's vocals, giving the performance kind of a sinister feel. Ken Williams still cranked out those vintage fuzz screeches after all these years and Lowe's voice was in top form.
From the reviews of Voxfest III, it looked as if the band had never been away and the demand for future concerts is gathering momentum! So much so that the band announced in August 2001 that they were to headline the Cavestomp 2001! festival held in New York City on 3rd November 2001.
Recording sessions over the last few years cuminated in the release of a new LP in October 2001 entitled 'Artifact'. This is the third LP the original band never made. The recording included many of the original band members, namely, James Lowe, Mark Tulin, Ken Williams, Michael Fortune (Quint) and Joe Dooley. In addition to the original band members, Peter Lewis (of Moby Grape fame) played guitar, Cameron Lowe played keyboards and Mark Moulin featured on guitar. They even released a limited edition single backing Peter Lewis on 'Hollywood Halloween'.
Thirty five years since their only European tour (December 1967), the Electric Prunes hit the shores of the UK and Greece on their 'Rewired' Tour 2002. First up was a fantastic set played at the Canterbury Fayre on 24th August 2002. The Prunes played the Saturday afternoon slot and all the classsic songs were there along with songs from their new 'Artifact' LP. The responsive crowd begged for more but had to wait a further two months until the band returned for a full tour of the UK taking in venues afar field as Bristol, Edinburgh and Brighton.
The UK tour culminated in a gig at the London Royal Festival Hall supported by a 3-D show by industrialist hardcore band Pere Ubu. The Prunes's show was pure '67 - music, light show and even James's psyche garb was claimed to have been purchased in Carnaby Street after their first visit some thirty five years previously.
With the UK leg of the tour etched into rock history, the band went on to entertain the Prune fans of Greece. They played two gigs - Athens and Salonika - supported by local psyche band Purple Overdose.
The year was rounded off by an electric show at the Baypop 2002 festival.
In 2003, the band released a DVD of their UK tour showing the Brighton gig in full, tour highlights, detailed narration of the songs played and the background to the band's reforming and recording of 'Artifact'. How anyone over the years could have disputed that the band didn't play on their records is truly dispelled here - the proof that the band played on their music is all here with great musicians having fun playing rock'n'roll. There is more to come from these guys and you never know, the Prunes bandwagon could be coming to a place near you ... soon!
Further details of what the Electric Prunes are currently doing can be found on the band's website - electricprunes.net.