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Vanilla Fudge - Renaissance CD (album) cover

RENAISSANCE

Vanilla Fudge

Proto-Prog


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
5 stars THE fudge album . The critics came down heavy on them after their debut but this the third album as they came off an extremely bad BeatGoes On. Obviously they were not willing to give them a second chance AND THEY WERE WRONG !!!! This is mind boggling psych and Stein is tearing the guts off his Hammond organ in a way that Bands like Front 242 will do with their synth some twenty years on . This is so HEAVY ! The rest of the band is not faring bad either as Bogert and Appice will be considered as master of heavies . Stupendous Season Of the Witch.
Report this review (#28012)
Posted Monday, February 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This band started its career by doing artistic cover versions from tunes composed by other people, and this third album presents their own matured composing skills. Earlier "The Beat Goes On" was more like an abstract artsy tryout when compared to this masterpiece in my opinion. The most dominant elements are still the strong organ chord layers, powerful vocal harmonies and very strong emotional load, resembling a state of religious pathos.

A crash of gong opens the album, and introduces a dualistic song "The Sky Cried - When I was A Boy". This beginning holds a mysterious haze of psychedelic sounds seeking their form, concreting as an aggressive storm blasting furious fuzz guitar sounds, stormy drums thunderbolts, wild raw keyboards and preaching vocal sermon. The verse brings a calm eye to this storm with some sound effects, contrasting the song's drive effectively. The duo song shifts to its second phase via short graveyard soundscape, section with full of true anxiety. Following "Thoughts" is a shorter song culminating to a chorus sections, having also a calmer verses and bursting with exploding emotions. "Paradise" starts with eerie organ solo painting very raw and interesting visions; This is another longer track running for over six minutes, and it takes it time to build up. The rest of the band creeps in with multi vocal harmonies. The main part of the composition is another wonderful melancholic keyboard driven calm sequence, paused by heavenly voids of contemplation.

Then there's a batch of two shorter songs; "That's What Makes a Man" has a dynamic theme, which is followed by another poetic composition shifting from calm verse growing in power for the strong chorus. "The Spell That Comes After" begins with abstract rhythmic process of voices creating a magical feeling. These melt as another powerful melodic tune following the stylistic line of previous the songs. There's a cool short jazzy quotation arranged in the middle of it, and the available space is used for the aural description of magical events, making this one of the most impressionistic numbers here. "Faceless People" continues to flow nicely after it, bringing a calm vision of space, slowly starting to move and making room for the aggressive iconoclastic purge carving out the more conventional composition out of the chaos. This process was first introduced in their debut album, and it's a cool way to enrich basic rock tunes. Some may of course find such as unnecessary artsy overdoing, but I like it, as it brings more atavistic elements to the music, and fits to the song naturally. There's also very interesting raw guitar solo on this tune.

The last song is the long "Season of the Witch" running nearly nine minutes. It also begins very calmly, taking its time, and allowing quiet drops to fall over a distant humming of the organs. The vocal melodies start to drive the composition, which rolls as slow and frightful tides. This song relies much on the vocals, there's even some kind of narrated part in it, and the final ending of it is very grim. My copy didn't have the bonus tracks, but I have heard two of them from the "Psychedelic Sundae" compilation. 7' Version of "You Keep Me Hanging On" cuts out the long starting rituals of the original album version, which I maybe prefer a bit more, and "Come By Day Come By Night" is beautiful and dreamy melodic 1960's song colored with psychedelic tones.

If you liked this album, hunt down Arcadium's "Breathe Awhile", it holds quite similar powerful music sounding pretty much this album. I have also heard that this band was an influence for Uriah Heep, and though their music is more happier and not as trippy as this, I believe this innovation can yet be heard in tunes like "July Morning". Recommended warmly if you like serious and emotional music from late 1960's, and if you do not shun depressive music.

Report this review (#37388)
Posted Thursday, June 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I consider this album to be one of the most innovative and best albums ever. What gender does this album really belong to? It encompasses everything from prog rock to psychedelic rock and touches of grunge and metal. It opens with the dramatic and painful "The Sky Cried/When I was a boy", which has one of the best intros ever with it's classically fused organ and guitar that cuts through like a knife. Other highlights are "Thoughts", "Paradise" and the unforgettable "Faceless People".

This is Vanilla Fudge's greatest work and a milestone of psychedelic rock. Martell's playing has obviously had a great influence on grunge guitarists like Jerry Cantrell and Kim Thayil. Carmine Appice proves here that he is one of the greatest drummers and also a talented songwriter. Mark Stein is the cornerstone of the band and it's very soul. His voice is eclectic and very expressive while his organ playing is excellent and very progressive. He writes three songs alltogether and all of them are stunning. A true bard who made Vanilla Fudge just what they were-a Rennaissance band. Sadly, they never could follow up this masterpiece and although they pulled a few nice efforts with "Near the Beginning" and "Rock 'n Roll", none of their latter works can be compared to this one.

Report this review (#39785)
Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is a god-like recording. If you ever want to hear the roots of just about anything heavy, this album is it. It is a dramatic display of band interaction that just seethes as much as it swoops. It's pre-goth. It's pre-metal. It's even pre-prog, yet it has all those elements and more. Cream and Iron Butterfly were the heavy bands of the time, and neither could touch the class, dissonance, or precision as well as looseness that Vanilla Fudge had, especially on this album. It even has elements of pre-emo stuff. This is my all- time favorite VF album, and damned if it doesn't come close to being my favorite album of all-time. Prog fans, check out the band who spawned Yes, Deep Purple, Zeppelin, Heep, Grand Funk, Sabbath, Angel, and so many more, on this, their finest moment. You will not be dissapointed. That was the understatement of the year!
Report this review (#39957)
Posted Thursday, July 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Considering this album came out in 1968, there really wasn't a precedent for music that sounded like this. To say this album was unique was a huge understatement. This album was definitely psychedelic, but at the same time it was also quite progressive. Given that their first album was essentially a covers album for which "You Keep Me Hanging On" garnered them wide exposure; this album appears to come out of nowhere.

Most of the songs are penned by the band themselves. The lone cover song, "Seasons of the Witch", has a middle section that sounds like Vincent Price reading poetry! And almost all the music is dynamic and haunting. At times the sound is soft and low, but that usually gives way to a controlled cacophony of bombastic noise. The guitars are distorted and heavy, complimented by Leslie drenched organs, and in the middle of it all, the haunting vocals of Mark Stein. Throughout the whole album, Tim Bogart's wandering bass lines augment Carmine Appice's amazing drumming. For many years Tim and Carmine were regarded as one of the best rhythm sections in music (even backing up Jeff Beck for a while).

I've always considered this to not only be their finest album, but to also be one of the more important albums of the era. Renaissance combines psychedelia, proto-metal, and primordial prog with excellent musicianship in a way no band had ever done before and years before anyone else would follow. Unfortunately, the Fudge never did take the ideas on Renaissance any further. One could say the band had a hard time finding their direction because of the popularity of the self- titled debut album. After a few more albums the band split up with the rhythm section forming Cactus, a 220 proof blues boogie band. (worth listening to if you want to hear the inspiration for Van Halen)

Report this review (#60964)
Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a marvelous album! Sound is very dynamic, rough soulful and psychodelic, but it's hard to express by words how soulful it is. Just listen! This must had been a complete underground in 1968. If you seek for a comparison, you can find similar mood as in IRON BUTTERFLY albums, but this music is much more melodic. My conclusion is this is one of most wonderful albums I've ever heard!
Report this review (#86032)
Posted Monday, August 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Feel like I'm letting the side down here, with 3 stars but there we are. Without a doubt a huge improvement on their previous diabolical LP. This release does have its moments. You can hear how much the band are improving and maturing. Lots of groovy Hammond Organ and falsetto harmonies make this a good listen. However, whilst there are no really bad tracks here, it does lack the standout ones as well. Compositions (and a few covers) seem to be a little below par compared to some of the other albums that were out around this time. Not exactly what I'd call a psych masterpiece, but well worth a listen all the same.
Report this review (#112162)
Posted Thursday, February 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is indeed one of my favourites, so ahead of its time in so many different ways (as mention before by other reviewers). I find all the songs on the album to be strikingly beautiful and very well composed, the psychedelic and powerful guitar playing of Vince Martell, the furious organ of Mark Stein, not to forger his unbelievable strong vocal capabilities which may take some getting used to as first as they can be overwhelming and last but not least the excellent and befitting roles of Carmine Appice on bass and Tim Bogert on drums.

There is no weak points in this album as far as I'm concerned (thought naturally there are the more powerful and less powerful songs), and to me there is no doubt this is Vanilla Fudge's best album as it brings so many musical diversities, just listen to 'Season Of The Witch' (a Donovan cover) which is just so bizzare and freaky yet keeps a relatively simple structure throughout the song.

Actually I have a personal amusing story in relation to this band. first of all I'll tell you that I am 20 years of age and I live in israel. About 9 months ago (late 2006) I was driving with 2 of my friends down to the cinema, I was driving in my car and had Caravan And Vanilla Fudge playing on my radio disc player, now to be honest my friends don't exactly like or even appreciate a lot of my music and they did not like Caravan or VF.. they complained about it all the way (and frankly I do the same when they're driving in their car with their music). When we arrived to the cinema (it was a huge complex) we walked pass a poster shop with all kinds of band/movie posters, one of my friends had jokingly suggested to me to go there and check if they've had any Vanilla Fudge posters, obviously I knew the chances that they've had any was extremely slim to no chance at all but I went for it just for the laught of it. I approaced the woman by the casheer and asked if they had any Vanilla Fudge posters, she looked at me in what I would describe a look of shock and asked me where I knew of Vanilla Fudge from.. it turns out that about 30 something years ago that same woman was the band's neighbour when she lived in america! she used to listen to them rehearse all the time but I'm not quite sure if she liked it!! haha what a laugh I and my friends had after that.. just to find a person in israel that would know of them would be considered lucky but to find their neighbour from 30 years ago... well that's just a HUGE F*CKING COINCIDENCE!!!!

But, I digress... back to the album. well nothing much more to add just listen to it for yourselves and discover the magic and wonder that is Vanilla Fudge!! I recommend it wholeheartedly.. 10/10

Report this review (#135335)
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Songs for all seasons

"Renaissance" is for me where Vanilla Fudge came closest to sounding like their fellow travellers Grand Funk Railroad. Here we have an album of deliciously heavy, original material and covers which demonstrates clearly how the band had matured and developed their sound.

Longer tracks such as "Seasons of the witch" (a Donovan song) and "Faceless people" are wonderfully arranged songs which are performed with confidence and style. The former is a slower, slightly understated (for Vanilla Fudge!) number, while "Faceless people" builds from a soft start through some all-guns-blazing organ and relatively rare lead guitar soloing before the vocals even start. The song has a passing resemblance to Mountain's classic cover of "Theme from an imaginary western" (probably just in my imagination!).

There are of course strong similarities with the likes of Uriah Heep in the swirling Hammond organ, the multi-part harmonies, and the oh-so-heavy rhythm section. There is a sense of adventure throughout this album which makes it noticeably different to other Vanilla Fudge releases, while simultaneously retaining all that is familiar about them.

In summary, another fine release by these under-appreciated pioneers. Worth investigating.

Report this review (#151060)
Posted Friday, November 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After a good debut album full of covers and a poor follow-up, the Fudge is back with an extraordinary album.

If ever there is one album that the fans of the early Purple or Heep needs to listen to it is this one. Those heavy keys are so evocative and precursory of Jon and Ken's ones. From the very first gong sound of the sumptuous opening track "The Sky Cried when I Was a Boy", one knows that something special is going on.

In the land of heavy, this is one of the heaviest ones. It seems that the keyboards are vomited through my loud speakers while I listen to it. These vocals so superb and such a great source of inspiration for David (Byron). The birth of heavy rock, maybe?

"Thoughts" is another hymn to wild harmony. Heep has learned its lessons from this number, for sure! Short, apocalyptic, stunning. Give me more of that kind, please.

Almost each single number from this album is pure, wild and heavy psychedelia. To release such a frenetic album in .1968 was a great challenge. It shows that this band was more creative than what some might have thought. They are definitely much, much more than a great cover band (even if they remained one of the greatest of that kind).

The power that radiates from "Paradise" is just fabulous. Technique, virtuosity, melody are on the rendez-vous. But more than anything a very, very heavy sound throughout this album. These organ sounds combined with such a brilliant rhythmic section are just amazing.

The first cover song from this great album is "The Spell that Comes After". Somewhat weaker, I must say. This highlights their song writing capabilities. In a year's time they evolved dramatically and all on the good side.

The next track "Faceless People" is another jewel. I can reassure Easy Livin' : this song has definitely inspired Jack Bruce while he was writing the great "Theme From An Imaginary Western". It is one of my fave from this album (and the link to "Theme" is probably not alien to this). After the initial part, these organ and guitar are just so great. Orgasmic ?

The second cover brings us back to their debut while they were almost re-writing the original songs they were interpreting. Airplane also did some great work with a Donovan song ("Fat Angel"). This one completely transform it as well, but I am not fully seduced by "Season of the Witch".

This album deserves your full attention. It was really innovative for its time, and even if it might sound outdated for young prog freaks, just bear in mind that this album was released almost forty years ago...

The CD version features three bonus tracks which are different that the ones listed here. But none of "All In Your Mind" or "The Look of Love" are really worth. But "Where Is My Mind" is on par with the other pieces of the original album.

Four stars.

Report this review (#156871)
Posted Thursday, December 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Vanilla Fudge is the archetypical band for the hard-rock movement. Already on their first record they introduced the hammond organ and heavy guitar sound, which was adopted by famous bands as Deep Purple; the typical Vanilla Fudge sang was adopted by Uriah Heep. While I'm not fond of the debut of Vanilla Fudge, because of the covers of the Beatles and others, I'm fond of this Renaissance. This record is mainly produced with own compositions, which offers great possibilities for the different bandmembers to show their excellent skills. The sang did largely improve and became mature.

In 1968 hard-rock was in a childish fase. Just a few bands did experiment with heavy sounds like the Blue Cheer and this Vanilla Fudge. The Blue Cheer became a proto-type for metal (especially Black Sabath) and Vanilla Fudge for hard-rock. I quess the members of Deep Purple were so much impressed by this record they did not only copied Fudge's sound, but also this albumcover. If this record was called Vanilla Fudge in Rock everyone should have noticed the great resemblance of the great stone sculptures of the Fudges members and Deep Purple members!

Enough about the historical impact of this great record and let's talk about the music itself. The most songs start with silent, slightly psychedelic passages and then turn into hardrock monsters. The progression of the songs makes this music proto-prog, because of it's intellectual and emotional value. The heavy passages are as heavy as a musician can control it's instrument. Sometimes it is a bit chaotic, but it sounds really impressive. The sang is really convincing on this record and shows panic in the voice. The musicians all have a semi-free role: they constantly fit within the composition, but seem to have the freedom to have their own interpretation.

The compositions are strong. The music is dynamic with it's heavy and silent passages flowing easily into each other. The sang consist of different vocalists and high background vocals; using all possibilities to enhance the compositions. The total effect is quiet awesome. There is still one cover on this record: the Season of the Wich's original version is of Donovan. This version however is much creepier and may be the cover Vanilla Fudge did make.

This record is a must-have for everyone interested is hard-rock, the origin of hard-rock and protoprog. This is the perfect record showing how hard-rock was developed out of the psychedelic scene. This record is especially advised for fans of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. Rating: 5/5 10/10 98/100

Report this review (#641440)
Posted Sunday, February 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
stefro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Back to what they do best after the disastrous experimental excess of 'The Beat Goes On', the third album from very heavy-rock exponents Vanilla Fudge finds the four-piece trying their hand at original compositions that don't involve plundering the vaults of old radio stations(thank the gods). Coupled with a couple of trademark covers, Donovan's oft-repeated 'Season Of The Witch' prime among them, 'Renaissance' proves a thankful return-to-form. Obviously, and unlike the previous album, there was someone lurking in the studio with the balls to say 'no' to the musicians when it really counted, and as a result we get another punishing blend of meaty guitars, rumbling basses and juicy psychedelic organs, the dazzling seven-and-a-half minute opener 'The Sky Cried When I Was A Boy' leading the way. They may not be the most subtle of groups, yet there is something wonderfully raw about Vanilla Fudge's style, and 'Renaissance' is no exception. Bruising, fuzzy rock, this should more than satisfy hard-psych aficianados.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

Report this review (#706520)
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Surely ranking alongside the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Deep Purple when it comes to setting the standards for prog-leaning heavy psych, Vanilla Fudge's second album is a true tour de force, with a range of decent songs building up to the absolutely incredible album closer, Season of the Witch. Devastatngly doomy, if you swapped out Mark Stein's organ performance for a Tony Iommi guitar solo you'd basically arrive at early Black Sabbath - but you wouldn't want to, because the organ-focused proto-doom of the track offers a truly hair-raising and unique trip which must surely be one of the most underrated songs of all time.
Report this review (#1038000)
Posted Wednesday, September 18, 2013 | Review Permalink

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