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Vanilla Fudge - Mystery CD (album) cover

MYSTERY

Vanilla Fudge

Proto-Prog


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Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Mysteriously anonymous

Vanilla Fudge were pioneers of heavy prog rock, their forte being to take classic songs and rework them in their own distinctive style. The band had a pretty short life, playing their (then) final concert in March 1970 then disbanding.

Some twelve years later the band got back together for the release of a "Best of" collection, and in 1984 a reunion album, "Mystery" was released. The "mystery" though is in fact what happened to the real Vanilla Fudge? Mark Stein appears to have traded in his organ for a synthesiser, devoid of a swell pedal. Gone completely is the distinctive Hammond organ driven sound, to be replaced by AOR/Melodic rock in the style of Styx or Survivor.

The opening track, "Golden age of dreams" sets the mood for the album, being a rather light pop based song, with a repetitive chorus. Indeed "My world is empty" also has a repetitive chant that Grand Funk Railroad would have been proud of. Track after track could be lifted straight from any album by Styx, Foreigner, etc. Even the slower title track fails to provide anything exciting or original, and "Under suspicion" sound like little more than a pale cover version of Survivor's "Eye of the tiger".

The only real saving grace is the cover of Dionne Warwick's "Walk on by" (written by Bacharach and David). This is much more like the old Vanilla Fudge. Yes it's still got the synthesisers in place of the Hammond, but at least it's slowed down and "heavy".

It's not that the music here is actually bad, but it is very anonymous, and (other than "Walk on by") bears no relation to what we had come to expect of the band in their heyday. There were any number of bands already making this type of music, and Vanilla Fudge offered nothing original to differentiate themselves from the pack.

"J Toad" is listed as guest guitarist on two tracks, this apparently is a cameo appearance by Jeff Beck. Of these, his work on "My world is empty" is one of the few highlights of the album.

Report this review (#28021)
Posted Thursday, September 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars I bought this album when it first came out and still enjoy it. Having fallen in love with Renaissance, their best album, it was eagerly anticipated. Tried to see them when they toured that year with Uriah Heep but ended up at a Kris Kristoferson concert (long story). Hot Blood's a dud but the other songs are powerful. I was surprised by the shift in styles from their earlier period. Don't miss "The Return" (2002) especially their cover of the Backstreet Boys "Tearin' Up My Heart". I told them at their show that they were the only band in the world who could make the a Backstreet Boys song sound good.
Report this review (#39690)
Posted Monday, July 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars I really wonder why the Fudge got together fifteen years after their last and excessively poor studio album Rock & Roll. Because this one is no better.

It is just another weak offering ranging between some unbearable synth sounds (but typical of the eighties) and some soul oriented music. But it is not the first time that the band will display some soulish tendencies.

The whole album is a nice journey into the most boring songs they have ever written. Because it is almost an "original" album (if you would just except some covers like "My World Is Empty Without You" from the . "Supremes"). But the band has already covered several "Motown" artists previously. But this one is an awful synth pop version which is indescribable. Some Hall & Oates flavour. I guess this is not what one would have expected from the Fudge.

The worst one ? I guess the title track, but there are so many weak numbers here ("Under Suspicion"). Very few songs (none actually) are really worth. The AOR-ish "Under Suspicion" is difficult to bear and the reggae oriented "It Gets Stronger" is a great joke but a pitiful song.

If ever you would like to discover a great cover version for "Walk On By", just get the fabulous "Stranglers" one available on the special edition of their "Black & White" album (under the form of a white vinyl EP). It was fully dynamic and featured an incredible guitar solo. This version from the Fudge is just another syrupy exercise.

Each track is dreadful (just have a try to the disco-ish Hot Blood to get the confirmation). Nothing fancy to listen to. Poor, weak, useless : you name it!

It is difficult to imagine that the same band released the great Renaissance. One star of course.

Report this review (#157878)
Posted Sunday, January 6, 2008 | Review Permalink

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