Prunes, Love, Saxon head East

electric prunes tour posterThe “California ’66 Revue” brings together three key acts from that pivotal year in rock history: the Electric Prunes, Love and the Seeds (repped by singer Sky Saxon).

(Update: Sky Saxon died June 25. He was replaced on part of the tour by Moby Grape guitarist Jerry Miller.)

Update of Aug. 6: The tour now appears down to Love, Miller (on some dates) and “special guests.” The tour web site announced the Electric Prunes would only play the WPKN benefit on Aug. 6 in Fairfield, Ct. That show also reportedly will feature a Blues Magoos reunion. Love (Baby Lemonade) plan to continue the California ’66 tour in venues that want to keep the booking, the web site said. This version of Love is well worth seeing and includes original member Johnny Echols.

Recalling the heady days of the Sunset Strip, the package tour in August makes a run up the East Coast, into Canada and over into into the Midwest.

The Prunes founders James Lowe and Mark Tulin came up with the concept of touring behind the year 1966, which saw garage rock and folk rock merge into early strains of psychedelia.

Love, one of the greatest bands of the psychedelic era, carries on after the death of founder Arthur Lee. Original Love guitarist Johnny Echols is at the helm, at least figuratively. This is no exploitation act — the new Love, in reality L.A.’s Baby Lemonade, were Lee’s band in the years of his post-prison comeback. They perform Lee’s masterworks from “Forever Changes” with precision and verve. Love’s songs and albums are solid citizens on this web site’s lists of the best psychedelic albums and best psychedelic songs.

The Electric Prunes scored one of psychedelia’s first radio hits, “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night).” Their “Mass in F Minor”” concept album was among the most ambitious of the era, despite its somber bloat. One of the movements of this rock Catholic Mass was used in “Easy Rider”

Sky “Sunlight” Saxon led L.A.’s the Seeds in the mid-’60s, defining garage rock with the howling hits “Pushin’ Too Hard” and “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine.” Their second album, “A Web of Sound,” featured one of the first long rock workouts, “Up in Her Room,” clocking in at 15 minutes. While the Seeds found immortality as a garage band, Saxon moved on to psychedelic explorations in following years. The Seeds appeared in the hippie movie “Psych Out” with Jack Nicholson. Saxon moved to Austin recently and had a new band, Shapes Have Fangs.

Tour promoter Patrick Hand said he wanted to see how the revue was received in “intimate venues”: “If the public is as enthusiastic in attending the shows as the clubs have been in booking, then I have no doubt we’ll be back on the road later in the year.”

California ’66 tour dates include Philadelphia (Aug. 4), Montreal (Aug. 8), New York (Aug. 9), Chicago (Aug. 12), Detriot (Aug. 15) and Cleveland (Aug. 16).

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