Vanilla Fudge got their start on Long Island, New York in 1967. The band consisted of Mark Stein, Carmine Appice, Tim Bogert, and Vince Martell. Carmine Appice became very famous as a drummer, and influenced many drummers in the rock genre.
The best way to describe Vanilla Fudge, is that they were a psychedelic band that featured extended, slower versions of already popular hit songs of the time period. Some of these songs were, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by The Supremes, which was their biggest hit, “Eleanor Rigby” and “Ticket To Ride” by The Beatles, and “People Get Ready” by Curtis Mayfield, as well as others.
Vanilla Fudge’s debut album, entitled Vanilla Fudge, featured their biggest hit, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by slowing it down and extending it to give a different take on the original. It took me awhile to get used to, but it works well when the musicianship is recognised. I can understand how Carmine Appice influenced many future drummers, and how this song was a precursor to the metal genre not yet established.
The members of Vanilla Fudge had great admiration of The Beatles, and the first song on the debut record shows this. The first song, “Ticket To Ride“, was a big hit for Beatles, and this would be the first song on the debut record. They slowed the song down, added lots of organ and drums, and basically made the song much harder than the original. It works well, although, the slowness of this version made me pause for a bit, not really sure what to think of it. Musically, it was excellent, but the slower tempo from the original threw me off. I got over it thought, and learned to really enjoy this cover.
The next song, “People Get Ready”, is a cover of a Curtis Mayfield composition, that originally I heard from Rod Stewart’s cover, which I really enjoy. Vanilla Fudge slows this down also, with heavy organ and drums, and extends it out for a really great cover. They take these previous hits by other artists, and really make them their own, and the music doesn’t destroy the originals, as happens so much these days.
Next up, “She’s Not There,” is a cover of The Zombies tune, slowed down and jazzed up with heavy drums. To be honest, the vocals in some of these songs on the debut are not that appealing to me, but the musicality more than makes up for it. This is another very good cover.
The Sonny Bono song, “Bang Bang” is basically, at first, unrecognizable from the original. This particular song I consider somewhat of a weaker cover than the others on the record. Although listening to it enough times, it kind of grew on me. It is definitely more haunting in some places than the original.
We skip to the last song on the record, the very familiar “Eleanor Rigby”, as The Vanilla Fudge end the album with some more homage to The Beatles. As with the other covers, it is slowed down, with drums and organ again in the front. All in all, a good record, with some painfully slow low parts that are hard to get into.
I really like this record, and I can see the influence it had on other musicians, and how it help ignite the future metal genre. We see a rising star emerge in Carmine Appice, and there are to be more albums to come before they called it quits in 1970.