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Electric Prunes - Just Good Old Rock and Roll

Electric Prunes - Just Good Old Rock and Roll

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Genre: rock
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title:  Just Good Old Rock and Roll
Company: Reprise
Catalog: RS 6342
Year: 1969
Country/State: Woodland Hills, California
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+
Comments: cut top left corner
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6075
Price: $15.00

1969's "Just Good Old Rock and Roll" stands an early example of a record label keeping a band nameplate alive in an effort to pull as many dollars out of the group's rapidly diminishing fan base as possible. In fact, by the time the collection was released none of the original band members were still in the line-up. Instead, the album featured what amounted to a brand new group composed of lead guitarist Mike Kincaid, former Three Dog Night keyboardist/rhythm guitarist Ron Morgan (replacing John Herron), bassist Brett Wade, and singer/drummer Dick Whetstone (in fact Herron, Kinaid and Whetstone had played together in an earlier Colorado-based band called Climax). That might also explain the fact the album was billed to 'the new improved Electric Prunes'.

So what to make of this one? Well, if you were expecting to hear a continuation of the band's original garage moves, or more of their David Axelrod directed experimentation, you'll be disappointed by these surprisingly mainstream rock numbers. Given this set routinely gets slammed by critics and reviewers, I'll readily admit to having had rather low expectations. Against that backdrop the results really weren't that bad. If these guys had been billed as a new act with a different name - say The Fantastic Scarves, or The Electric Hand Sanitizers, I suspect they would have met with a much more favorable response. Produced by Dave Hassinger (who'd handled their first couple of LPs), the collection offered up a mixture of outside material and originals with a heavy emphasis on conventional rock. Lead singer Whetstone had a decent enough voice - kind of rugged and gruff; a little bit reminicent of Rare Earth's Pete Rivera - who like Whetstone also happened to be a drummer. The rest of the band were professional, if few of their performances really jumped out at you - Morgan turned in a couple of nice keyboard segments and Wade contributed a nice bass line to 'Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers' and side two's 'Giant Sunhorse' featured some nice lead guitar from Kincaid and Wade.

- Opening up with some stabbing Ron Morgan keyboards, the rocking 'Sell' has always reminded me of an Americanized version of Traffic. The song was quiet commercial, but in a jazz-tinged fashion and Whetstone's measured vocals reminded me a bit of Steve Winwood - okay that may have been a bit of a stretch, but I still like the song. rating: **** stars
- '14 Year Old Funk' was a decent conventional rocker highlighted by some tasty dual guitar from Mike Kincaid and Ron Morgan. rating: *** stars
- 'Love Grows' found the band trying to stretch out a bit in the progressive direction. Unfortunately the results sounded like they'd taken a couple of different songs and simply pasted them together in a random fashion. Call it an interesting failure and move on. rating: ** stars
- 'So Many People To Tell' was a slow, slightly lysegenic-tinged ballad notable for sounding somewhat dated and for some out of tune flute from Wade. rating: *** stars
- A surprisingly funky slice of blue-eyed soul, 'Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers' sported a great tune, some nice Ron Morgan keyboards, and a great bass line from Wade. Imagine Felix Cavaliere and the Rascals trying to sound funky and you'll get a feel for this one. Easily one of the album's highlights, it take much insight to understand why Reprise tapped this one as a single. rating: **** stars
- The album's hardest rocker, 'Giant Sunhorse' featured that distinctive heavy molten metal sound so common in early 1970s rock - think Lesley West and Mountain. I'm a sucker for this stuff. This one also featured one of the album's best guitar work. rating: *** stars
- Penned by former guitarist John Herron and Whetstone, 'Violent Rose' sported a breezy and slightly stoned Southern California country-rock feel - definietly more Grateful Dead than Poco ... Nice. rating: *** stars
- 'Thorjon' served as the album's guitar freak-out track. A decent rocker, the first half of the song basically set the stage for some nice Kincaid and Morgan guitar interplay. Unfortunately, the song abruptly shifted gears into a blues-rock vein. There was still plenty of fuzz guitar, but Whetstone's voice became quite screechy and irritating making you wish the song would fade out. rating: ** stars.
- The mid-tempo 'Silver Passion Mine' found the band stumbling through a mildly acid tinged number. The harmony vocals were quite nice, but the song never really gelled or went anywhere and the flute arrangement was dismal. This one could have been excellent with a little more work. rating: ** stars.
- Apparently rescued from their pre-Electric Prunes Climax days, 'Tracks' was another album highlight. An organ-propelled rocker, this one sounded a bit like Stephen Stills jamming with Vanilla Fudge. Great melody and vocal on this one. In fact my only complaint was that the song faded out just as it was gathering some real energy. rating: **** stars.
- Penned by bassist Wade, 'Sing To Me' found the group diving headlong into lite-progressive territory. A weird mash-up of heavy metal, spiraling keyboards, and over the top pretentious vocals, the first couple of times I heard it the song didn't do a great deal for me. While you'll never consider it a masterpiece, over time the track's grown on me, perhaps due in part to the fact they sound like they're trying soooooo hard to be relevant. rating: *** stars

The album was also tapped for a pair of singles in the form of:

- 1969's 'Sell' b/w 'Violent Rose' (Reprise catalog number RS 0833)- 1969's 'Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers' b/w 'Love Grows' (Reprise catalog number RS 0858)
All told, not nearly as bad as the critics would have you believe. Certainly nowhere near as pompous and overblown as some of the earlier David Axelrod outings.

"Just Good Old Rock and Roll" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Sell (M Herron - John Herron - 3:13
2.) 14 Year Old Funk (Bill Daffern - Ron Morgan) - 3:31
3.) Love Grows (Bill Daffern - John Fleck - Ron Morgan - Brett Wade) - 4:07
4.) So Many People To Tell (Brett Wade) - 4:00
5.) Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers (Jimmy Holiday - Jimmy Lewis - Cliff Chambers) - 3:30

(side 2)
1.) Giant Sunhorse (Bill Daffern - Ron Morgan - Larry Tamblyn - Brett Wade) - 4:06
2.) Violent Rose (John Herron - Dick Whetstone) - 2:42
3.) Thorjon (Mark Kincaid - Brett Wade - Dick Whetstn=one) - 2:58
4.) Silver Passion Mine (Brett Wade) - 2:53
5.) Tracks (M. Herron - John Herron) - 2:44
6.) Sing To Me (Brett Wade) - 3:22

The band actually toured in support of the LP, but it did little commercially and they called it quits in 1970.
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