Artist: The Electric Prunes

I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) – The Electric Prunes

The Electric Prunes are an American rock band who first achieved international attention as an experimental psychedelic group in the late 1960s. Their song Kyrie Eleison featured on the soundtrack of Easy Rider. After a period in which they had little control over their music, they disappeared for thirty years, reforming as a recording and touring band in 2001

The group started in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, though during the group’s long disbandment, rumors circulated that they were from Seattle. Their first hit was discovered by Seattle disk jockey Pat O’Day at KJR (AM) and was very popular in that city before it broke into the national charts. The founding members, Ken Williams (guitar), James Lowe (lead vocal, autoharp), Michael Weakley and eventually Joe Dooley (drums) and Mark Tulin (bass) called themselves The Sanctions, and later, Jim and the Lords. Soon, Dick Hargrave joined on organ, leaving shortly afterwards to pursue graphic arts. Their lineup changed many times, including one lineup with Kenny Loggins.

Lowe, Tulin, Williams and Weakley were introduced to David Hassinger, then resident engineer at RCA studios, who arranged for them to record some demos at Leon Russell’s home recording facility (which he called Sky Hill Studios). Hassinger also suggested they needed a new name. In response, the band produced a long list of suggestions, with The Electric Prunes last as a joke.

The late 1990s saw renewed interest in the Electric Prunes, with the release on Heartbeat Records of Stockholm, a concert recorded by the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation while the (original) Prunes were on tour there in 1967. Heartbeat also issued an early collection of recordings by The Sanctions and Jim and The Lords, recovered from unplayed 35-year-old acetates.

After a period of 30 years, the original quartet of Lowe, Tulin, Williams and Weakley met in the studio to consider a revival. As a result Lowe, Tulin and Williams (the three who had played on all the early recordings) were joined by two new members, including James Lowe’s son, to reform the band. They began touring internationally in 2001, and in 2002 released a new recording titled Artifact and a DVD album called Rewired.

I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)

Convinced that the band could not write their own songs, Hassinger sought material from the professional songwriting team of Annette Tucker and lyricist Nancie Mantz. One of the tunes was “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)”, a song that, according to some sources, was originally conceived as an orchestral piano ballad. However, according to Tucker, “I came up with the title one day and called Nancie. She loved it and we wrote it the next day in one half hour….The words were there and my melody came easily. I was influenced by the Rolling Stones at the time and that is how I heard that song being recorded….Nancie and I envisioned this as a rock song.” A demo version recorded for Hassinger by singer-songwriter Jerry Fuller (in some sources wrongly identified as Jerry Vale), may have been the source of the story of the song’s origin as a ballad.

At the time, the Electric Prunes comprised singer James Lowe, lead guitarist Ken Williams, rhythm guitarist James “Weasel” Spagnola, bassist Mark Tulin, and drummer Preston Ritter. The oscillating, reversed guitar which opens the song originated from the rehearsals at Russell’s house, where Williams recorded with a 1958 Les Paul guitar with a Bigsby vibrato unit. According to Lowe, “We were recording on a four-track, and just flipping the tape over and re-recording when we got to the end. Dave cued up a tape and didn’t hit ‘record,’ and the playback in the studio was way up: ear-shattering vibrating jet guitar. Ken had been shaking his Bigsby wiggle stick with some fuzztone and tremolo at the end of the tape. Forward it was cool. Backward it was amazing. I ran into the control room and said, ‘What was that?’ They didn’t have the monitors on so they hadn’t heard it. I made Dave cut it off and save it for later.”

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Last night your shadow fell upon my lonely room
I touched your golden hair and tasted your perfume
Your eyes were filled with love the way they used to be
Your gentle hand reached out to comfort me
Then came the dawn
And you were gone
You were gone, gone, gone
I had too much to dream last night
Too much to dream
I’m not ready to face the light
I had too much to dream
Last night
Last night

The room was empty as I staggered from my bed
I could not bear the image racing through my head
You were so real that I could feel your eagerness
And when you raised your lips for me to kiss
Came the dawn
And you were gone
You were gone, gone, gone

[repeat chorus 2X]

Oh, too much to dream
Oh, too much to dream
Too much to dream last night
Oh, too much to dream
[repeat to fade]

  • Audio from the 1967 album, I Had Too Much To Dream:

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