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Vanilla Fudge - Vanilla Fudge CD (album) cover

VANILLA FUDGE

Vanilla Fudge

 

Proto-Prog

3.59 | 63 ratings

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maani
Special Collaborator
Founding Moderator
4 stars Many a discussion thread on this site has asked whether Vanilla Fudge are even classifiable as "progressive rock." I am of two minds on this. On the one hand, based on my own definition of what makes an artist "progressive" - i.e., "the conscious and deliberate application of 'progressive sensibilities' as a primary approach to compostion and style (over an extended period)" - this album definitely classifies as "progressive," as Vanilla Fudge were without question consciously aware of the "progressive sensibilities" they were applying as their primary approach. On the other hand, since they didn't write any of the songs, that approach was not being applied to "composition" (though it was certainly being applied to "style"). Had any of these songs been original, this album would probably end the argument as to "what was the first progressive album," since it was released only a few months after Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour (which almost unquestionably had the first "proto-prog" songs ever recorded, but neither of which can be considered a "progressive rock album," since The Beatles were not "consciously and deliberately applying progressive sensibilities as their primary approach to composition and style," especially "over an extended period"). / All that said, what Vanilla Fudge does with these songs is both unique (certainly for its time) and exceptionally creative. They play around with almost every aspect of every song: adding (sometimes extended) intros and/or outros to the songs, altering tempos, changing and/or exaggerating instrumentation (especially keyboards), radically modifying dynamics, using dramatic (and sometimes jarring) vocal styles, even messing with the lyrics - all of which serve to change the very essence, the very mood, of each song. In addition, the musicianship is remarkably advanced for its time, especially the keys and drums, which form the backbone of the arrangements. / Because there is no original composition on this album, it simply cannot qualify as a "masterpiece." In fact, a great deal of angst went into giving this album four stars. However, although this album is essentially the work of a band doing (admittedly unique) covers of popular songs of the mid-60s (and thus would not normally qualify as "progressive rock" at all), there is something so creative, so immediate, so compelling and (occasionally) so exciting here that the album all but defies categorization - yet certainly qualifies as an "excellent addition to any prog rock collection" - whatever its classification.
maani | 4/5 |

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