Sixties psyche-soul band Vanilla Fudge are rarely remembered these days. They were a successful and important band once upon a time.The music on their debut album has a “dated” feel and considering there’s not a single original composition, their legacy still has a lotta’ wallop. What made Vanilla Fudge so intriguing was how they and producer, Shadow Morton mutated hit songs by stretching the tempo to slow motion so exquisite that even an overexposed song by the Supremes, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” sounded fresh on the radio.
Whatever song they covered the genetic recombination made it sound completely alien to it’s original. It’s as if they “stole” it and made it their own! They were a punk version of Emerson, Late and Palmer! There should have been a bigger market for them on FM radio. Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin claimed that Vanilla Fudge were the “proto-type” of heavy metal!.
Originally calling themselves the Pigeons they got signed by Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records in order to bolster the label’s commitment in rock and roll by starting the new spin-off label.. Atco Records… Their first artists were Buffalo Springfield, Iron Butterfly and Vanilla Fudge. But there was one drawback, however: Atlantic didn’t want to sign “The Pigeons”…They didn’t like that name and told their manager a named change was a deal breaker! They tried to think endlessly to come up with a new name but were getting nowhere until they had a gig in Long Island. While there they started talking to a chick named Dee Dee who worked in the production office. She inadvertently mentioned how her grandfather used to call her Vanilla Fudge and mentioned.. ‘ Hey, maybe you guys should call yourselves that—you’re like white soul music’. It twas” divine intervention They ran it by their manager, Phil Basile. He liked it and told Atlantic.. So Vanilla Fudge it was.
.. Vanilla Fudge and Led Zeppelin
The key was the thudding rhythm section of Carmine Appice and bassist Tim Bogert. But it twas’ Mark Stein’s eerie Hammond B3 organ and surprisingly soulful vocals that were the essential ingredients of Vanilla Fudge’s greatness. Guitarist, Vince Martell had this hazy yet heavy tone that fit the band’s wall of sound. They weren’t shy about being “too loud” with their wall of Marshall Amps. Jeff Beck at times would sit in on many of their live gigs. Their strengths were never more apparent than on their first and best album, which of course was highlighted by their dramatic, explosive recasting of The Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hanging On” which was a top 10 hit and an utter classic. I’d argue that the whole album is a minor classic, and certainly anybody who likes psychedelic music and soulful hard rock and doesn’t mind super-slow songs that often stretch out past 5-minutes should be willing to give this album a try.