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Vanilla Fudge - Psychedelic Sundae: The Best of Vanilla Fudge CD (album) cover

PSYCHEDELIC SUNDAE: THE BEST OF VANILLA FUDGE

Vanilla Fudge

 

Proto-Prog

3.57 | 11 ratings

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Trotsky
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Driven by Mark Stein's screechin' organ and a penchant for rearranging pop classics in a psychedelic manner, Vanilla Fudge was a great psych-rock group whose inclusion is quite possibly unwarranted. For what it's worth, I've always associated VF with its contemporaries Iron Butterfly and the first incarnation of Deep Purple (also a very creative cover band).

This CD compilation culls 18 tracks from four of the five studio albums (Vanilla Fudge, Renaissance, Near The Beginning and Rock & Roll) as well as some non-LP singles that the group recorded during its frantic peak years of 1967-1969. Incidentally nothing from the second album, the much-derided concept album The Beat Goes On was deemed worthy of inclusion.

Some of the rearrangements are stunning, leaving barely a skeleton of the original tune. The Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On is turned into a brilliant, dramatic yet concise little opera (and in fact was a #6 hit single in 1968), The Beatles' Ticket To Ride is slowed down and stretched out to good effect, Junior Walker & The All-Stars' Shotgun becomes a psych raver and both Donovan's Season Of The Witch (whispers, poetry reading, and all) and Nancy Sinatra's Some Velvet Morning are given a rather sinister treatment. While I tend to prefer the original in most cases, these are really unique versons that deserve to be heard. Stein's soulful vocals, the interplay between his organ and Vince Martell's guitar, and the fearsome rhythm section are a real treat if you haven't been exposed to it before. In fact, each member of the group was an unappreciated heavyweight of the late 60s scene.

What has often gone unnoticed is that Vanilla Fudge also wrote some excellent psych tunes of their own. Stein's Where Is My Mind and That's What Makes A Man, Martell's Thoughts, drummer Carmine Appice's multi-dimensional Faceless People and the heavy- rockin' group compositions Good Good Lovin' and Need Love offer undeniable proof that the Fudge could really have been a contender.

Now it's not all great though. On occasion, Stein's vocal histrionics can get annoying and I'm not fond of every song here. Take Me For A Little While, the psych/gospel (!!!) Lord In The Country, All In Your Mind and Street Walking Woman (despite a strong fade out in which Stein and Martell furiously trade solos) don't score high on my chart and I do feel that the comp loses momentum towards the end (perhaps an indication of the band's troubles). I also question the prog value of Vanilla Fudge as a whole, but this is definitely a great collection of songs by an essential and very influential psych group. ... 56% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 3/5 |

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