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Vanilla Fudge - Near The Beginning CD (album) cover

NEAR THE BEGINNING

Vanilla Fudge

 

Proto-Prog

3.41 | 39 ratings

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stefro
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Despite harbouring almost mythical status amongst classic rock fans, the fact remains that Vanilla Fudge never truly fulfilled their exciting potential after the release of their incendiary 1967 debut. Maybe the hint was in the fact that 'Vanilla Fudge' was made up entirely of cover versions, but what cover versions they were, the foursome applying a stretched-out, doom-heavy, proto-psych coating to classic pop-and-soul tracks such as The Beatles 'Day Tripper' and Curtis Mayfield's 'People Get Ready'. However, alarm bells were soon ringing following the release of the abominable 'experimental' follow-up 'The Beat Goes On', whilst 'Renaissance', a 1968 album made-up of both covers and, for once, original material(and rather uninspired original material it has to be said) also failed to set the pulse racing. For some, 1969's 'Near The Beginning' was proof that Vanilla Fudge could write their own tunes - the twenty-three minute closing epic 'Break Song' certainly showed ambition - yet this writer(who, by the way, adores the group's debut) simply isn't convinced. Also containing a pair of cover versions that make up approximately half the album's tracks(Lee Hazlewood's 'Some Velvet Morning' and the Audrey DeWalt-penned 'Shotgun' feature here) 'Near The Beginning' is a definite improvement on both 'The Beat Goes On' and 'Renaissance', yet that in itself is nothing to shout about. Whilst the covers feature the usual amped-up rock veneer, the drony 'Where Is Happiness?' and the chundering, dirge-like 'Break Song'(which was recorded live) simply add to the suspicion that Vanilla Fudge ran out of actual inspiration sometime during late 1967. Quickly overtaken by the likes of Hendrix, Iron Butterfly and The Doors, Vanilla Fudge's canon as heard by 21st century ears seems distinctly limited. Their awesome debut aside, there is precious little to get excited about amongst the subsequent quartet of albums, their bland, organ-doused rock 'n' roll sound seeming ever more slow and cumbersome with each additional listen. Thoroughly uninspired stuff then yet by the same token by no means awful, 'Near The Beginning' is an album strictly for Vanilla Fudge completionists. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2O12
stefro | 2/5 |

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