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VANILLA FUDGE

Proto-Prog • United States


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Vanilla Fudge picture
Vanilla Fudge biography
Founded in 1967 - Disbanded in 1970, the band reunited several times - Still performing as of 2016

The story of VANILLA FUDGE started (in my opinion a pivotal progressive band in the vein of KING CRIMSON, COLOSSEUM and THE NICE) in the New York era when Mark Stein (organ and lead vocals) and Tim Bogert (bass guitar) played in a band called Rick Martin & The Snowmen. Tim and Mark were so impressed by the sound of THE RASCALS (swinging and floods of organ) that they dediced to form their own band with Vinnie Martell on guitar and Rick Martin's drummer Joey Brennan. They named themselves The PIGEONS but, after the replacement of Joey Brennan by Carmine Appice, the new name became VANILLA FUDGE. In '71 the band signed with Atco Records, a division of the famous Atlantic label. They released the single "You Keep Me Hangin'On" and then their first album "Vanilla Fudge". The second album "The Beat Goes On" was the ambitious project of producer Shadow Morton to tell the entire history of contemporary music (from MOZART to COLE PORTER and ELVIS PRESLEY). Unfortunately it all sounded too weird: a 44 minutes nonstop tapestry of sonic images and interruptions by sound bites from band Atco re-released the first single "You Keep Me Hangin'On" and historical figures. To stop the possible demise of the hoped for the best. It became a small hit and soon they released their third album "Renaissance" that consisted primarily of original material. February '69 their fourth album "Near The Beginning" (with the sidelong live track "Break Song") came out and in september '69 their fifth and final album called "Rock & Roll" was released. After these five LP's VANILLA FUDGE decided to split up and to look for other musical challenges. VANILLA FUDGE's sound is a captivating and exciting blend of soul, blues, rock and progrock with strong hints from JIMI HENDRIX (fiery electric guitar) and THE RASCALS (floods of Hammond B3 organ).

The best way to get an impression of the dynamic and alternating VANILLA FUDGE sound is the compilation-CD "Psychedelic Sundae (the best of..)": some Rhythm & blues with soul/gospel-like vocals and vocal harmonies but mainly music that is based upon great interplay between the fierce electric guitar (like JIMI HENDRIX) and the powerful Hammond B3 organ. The compositions range from slow, almost hypnotizing to propulsive with heavy outbursts. The vocals sound soulful, a rather unusual combination in progrock. Discover this captivating, very progressive blend of different styles and keep in mind that YES, DEEP PURPLE and URIAH HEEP pointed at VANILLA FUDGE as their main influence! Best albums to start with are "Near the Beginning" and "Rock & Roll".

: : : Erik Neuteboom, The NETHERLANDS : : :
Fan & official Prog Archives collaborator

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Buy VANILLA FUDGE Music


Near The BeginningNear The Beginning
Reissued
SUNDAZED MUSIC 2017
$11.95
$9.00 (used)
Vanilla FudgeVanilla Fudge
Elektra Catalog Group 1987
$5.04
$6.48 (used)
RenaissanceRenaissance
Reissued
SUNDAZED MUSIC 2017
$11.95
$10.58 (used)
The Complete Atco SinglesThe Complete Atco Singles
Remastered
Real Gone Music 2014
$15.90
$9.37 (used)
The Beat Goes OnThe Beat Goes On
Reissued
SUNDAZED MUSIC 2017
$11.95
$8.00 (used)
Out Through The In DoorOut Through The In Door
Sunset Blvd Records 2016
$12.14
$13.54 (used)
Spirit Of 67Spirit Of 67
Cleopatra 2015
$10.98
$11.99 (used)
Then and Now (Expanded Edition)Then and Now (Expanded Edition)
Sunset Blvd Records 2017
$15.99
$24.82 (used)
Vanilla FudgeVanilla Fudge
UNASSIGNED
$30.67
$11.94 (used)
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VANILLA FUDGE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

VANILLA FUDGE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.64 | 103 ratings
Vanilla Fudge [Aka:You Keep Me Hanging On]
1967
1.76 | 51 ratings
The Beat Goes On
1968
4.10 | 104 ratings
Renaissance
1968
3.31 | 57 ratings
Near The Beginning
1969
2.76 | 35 ratings
Rock & Roll
1969
2.06 | 19 ratings
Mystery
1984
3.30 | 22 ratings
The Return
2002
2.88 | 14 ratings
Out Through The In Door
2007
3.64 | 11 ratings
Spirit Of '67
2015

VANILLA FUDGE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.13 | 6 ratings
The Best of Vanilla Fudge: Live
1991
3.09 | 3 ratings
Extended Versions
2007

VANILLA FUDGE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

VANILLA FUDGE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 2 ratings
The Fantastic Vanilla Fudge
1969
1.05 | 3 ratings
*Star Collection
1974
3.58 | 13 ratings
Psychedelic Sundae: The Best of Vanilla Fudge
1993
3.25 | 4 ratings
Then And Now
2004
3.33 | 3 ratings
Renaissance & Near The Beginning
2008

VANILLA FUDGE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.43 | 5 ratings
Some Velvet Morning/ People
1969

VANILLA FUDGE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Vanilla Fudge [Aka:You Keep Me Hanging On] by VANILLA FUDGE album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.64 | 103 ratings

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Vanilla Fudge [Aka:You Keep Me Hanging On]
Vanilla Fudge Proto-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars "The most overlooked legendary prog band"

Back to 1967, a magical year in rock music. The UK is flooded by very exciting and adventurous albums, from The Nice, Pink Floyd and The Beatles to Procol Harum and The Moody Blues. These bands are scouting the boundaries of a wide range of styles, with the emphasis on rock, folk and classical, the press labels it as progressive rock. In the USA there is also an interesting progressive movement, but more focussed on blending styles with the emphasis on blues and psychedelia. The most famous bands are The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jefferson Airplane and Santana. Another interesting band in the USA in 1967 is four piece formation Vanilla Fudge, in that magical year their eponymous debut LP reaches # 6 in the Billboard Album Top 100. Soon Vanilla Fudge is embraced by the young music fans in the USA and within a few years the band becomes the headliner during concerts with Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Deep Purple and Canned Heat. Later legandary bands like Yes, Uriah Heep and Deep Purple point at Vanilla Fudge as an important source of inspiration. But despite these facts Vanilla Fudge is the most overlooked progressive band, in a world where Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and ELP are hailed as 'the gods of prog'. So how about Vanilla Fudge their music, and the 'prog factor'?

The story of Vanilla Fudge started in the New York-area when Mark Stein (organ and lead vocals) and Tim Bogert (bass guitar) played in a band called Rick Martin & The Showmen. When Mark and Tim listened to the popular band The Rascals they were so impressed by the hot R&B covers with floods of Hammond B3 organ that they decided to form their own band, named The Pigeons. Together with Rick Martin's drummer Joey Brennan and new guitarist Vinnie Martell they started rehearsing and playing but Brennan was replaced by Carmine Appice. He played one night at the same place as The Pigeons and he was simply asked to join The Pigeons. At about the same time The Pigeons decided to change their name into Vanilla Fudge, after the nickname of the female singer of The Unspoken Word (she liked ice cream very much). And also a bidding war started to contract them because the band was very promising. Eventually in July 1967 Vanilla Fudge signed with Atco Records, a division of the famous Atlantic label. They released the single You Keep Me Hangin'On and then their first album Vanilla Fudge, soon Vanilla Fudge became the darlings of the underground, like Pink Floyd in the UK. The second album The Beat Goes On was the over-ambitious project of producer Shadow Morton to tell the entire history of contemporary music , from Mozart to Elvis Presley. Unfortunately it all sounded too weird and then Atco decided to re-release their first single You Keep Me Hangin' On, in order to stop the possible demise of the band. Atco hoped for the best, and indeed, the single became a small hit and soon they released their third album Renaissance that consisted primarily of original material. February '69 their fourth album Near The Beginning came out and in september '69 their fifth and final album called Rock & Roll was released. After these five LP's Vanilla Fudge decided to split up and to look for other musical challenges. During the years they reunited several times, and for me a dream came true when I attended a very inspired and exciting Vanilla Fudge gig in 2015 (see my avatar).

This review is about Vanilla Fudge their eponymous debut LP featuring only covers. How ironical, the creative way Vanilla Fudge re-arranged the covers showcase their unique and pivotal sound. Their trademark has two elements: on one hand the soul and gospel inspired vocals (with different lead singers) and vocal harmonies and on the other hand a pioneering Hammond-harder edged guitar combination.

Ticket To Ride (The Beatles) : The sound of the Hammond organ and the bluesy atmosphere creates a very special climate, fuelled by a dynamic rhythm-section (acknowledged by Jeff Beck who later founded Beck, Bogert and Appice). On this first track Vanilla Fudge also introduced thei trademark blend of soul and gospel inspired vocals. And the fiery guitar is a perfect counterpart to the powerful and omnipresent Hammond organ.

People Get Ready (The Impressions, written by Curtis Mayfield) : A slow rhythm and compelling work on the Hammond, and again fiery guitar runs and gospel/soul vocals.

She's Not There (The Zombies): The lush Hammond and raw electric guitar sound awesome, topped with strong vocals, this is trademark Vanilla Fudge.

Bang Bang (Cher, and Nancy Sinatra, written by Sonny Bono) : An omnipresent Hammond, pleasant vocal harmonies, a psychedelic touch and a strong final part with heavy guitar and Hammond outbursts.

Illusions ? The 3 parts are short psychedelic sonic impressions.

You Keep Me Hangin' On (The Supremes) : This is the single that got Vanilla Fudge on the map and for me the highlight on this album. Vanilla Fudge presents a captivating and dynamic blend of rock, blues and gospel with exciting Hammond waves, powerful electric guitar, distinctive vocal harmonies and excellent lead vocals, an extra dimension on this cover.

Take Me For A Little While (Jackie Ross) : A slow rhythm with soul inspired vocals and vocal harmonies, the Hammond gives a special flavour.

Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles): In the original version of The Beatles they don't play instruments, Paul MaCartney did the double-tracked lead vocals and Harrison and Lennon the vocal harmonies, George Martin arranged the string quartet. Vanilla Fudge replaced the strings by Hammond and electric guitar, creating a huge tension between the slow and bluesy parts and the bombastic outbursts, topped by strong vocals and a propulsive rhythm-section. To me this sounds as a very good rendition (superior to The Beatles but that is personal, I am more a Stones fan). And it showcased the inventive composing and exciting musical potential of Vanilla Fudge.

A band to discover, if you are up to the soul and gospel inspired vocals, that will not be everybody's cup of tea. But the work on the Hammond B3 is a Big Plus for the Hammond aficionados!

 Out Through The In Door by VANILLA FUDGE album cover Studio Album, 2007
2.88 | 14 ratings

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Out Through The In Door
Vanilla Fudge Proto-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars The name of this album is a funny reference to the album In Through The Out Door by Led Zeppelin (1979), all 11 tracks on Out Through The In Door are Led Zeppelin covers. This appreciation from Vanilla Fudge for Led Zeppelin started in 1968 when the virtuosic and innovative hardrockers Led Zeppelin did their first USA tour '. as a support act for USA formation Vanilla Fudge. In those days this four piece band was highly praised and got worldwide recognition, due to their international chart topping single You Keep Me Hangin' On. So when in 1968 Vanilla Fudge was already a famous band that had released a serie of pivotal albums, Led Zeppelin was working on a debut studio album and touring around the world to make fans. A year later Vanilla Fudge call it a day while Led Zeppelin stunned the world with their eponymous debut album. And within a few years Led Zeppelin became one of the most famous and pivotal rock bands of all time. In order to tribute their former support-act Led Zeppelin, Vanilla Fudge (reunited since 1984) made this album, released in 2007.

After a few listening sessions my conclusion is that Vanilla Fudge have succeeded to incorporate their distinctive late Sixties sound (vocal harmonies, Hammond organ and blending rock with soul and gospel) into the covers, without doing harm to the essential Led Zeppelin sound. I notice lots of inventive ideas: a short and surprising keyboard intro in the propulsive Immigrant Song, wonderful keyboard arrangements (on the Korg Triton synthesizer) and fiery electric guitar leads in the dynamic Dazed And Confused and a funky clavinet sound, wah-wah guitar and swirling Hammond organ in the swinging Trampled Under Foot. The typical, omnipresent Vanilla Fudge Hammond B3 organ sound can be traced in Fool In The Rain, Dancing Days, Moby Dick (excellent job by drummer Carmine Appice who later worked with Jeff Beck) and Rock And Roll (thunderous drums, powerful vocals and biting electric guitar). These elements give the songs a very special flavour. The most Vanilla Fudge sounding Led Zeppelin cover is the final song Your Time Is Gonna Come: it starts with 'churchy' Hammond organ and then a thrilling blend of blues and psychedelia featuring inspired, pretty melancholical vocals.

In my opinion Vanilla Fudge have delivered a strong and interesting tribute to Led Zeppelin (one of my favorite bands), with lots of creative ideas and with respect to the mighty Led Zep sound!

 Near The Beginning by VANILLA FUDGE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.31 | 57 ratings

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Near The Beginning
Vanilla Fudge Proto-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Vanilla Fudge hit on something special with Renaissance, especially with their haunting take on Donovan's Season of the Witch which closed out the album and could almost be seen as a precursor of Black Sabbath's early doom style.

Unfortunately, with this album they lost all the character and atmosphere and presented a rather generic psychedelic rock record crammed to the gills with somewhat aimless noodling. Break Song, in particular, is a side-length live jam that just consists of wanky solos of a type we've all heard before dozens of times (including an absurdly overlong drum solo) which more or less encapsulates all the worst aspects of that particular performance format.

This is an album which time has not treated well; it's dated extremely badly, particularly now that if you wanted you could get similar live jams from better performers in massive quantities at a very reasonable price. Thanks, guys, but no thanks.

 The Beat Goes On by VANILLA FUDGE album cover Studio Album, 1968
1.76 | 51 ratings

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The Beat Goes On
Vanilla Fudge Proto-Prog

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This should have been a career suicide for Vanilla Fudge, their much maligned sophomore effort, coming on the heels of their critically acclaimed and commercially successful debut. Yet the label let them continue on. If an album like The Beat Goes On was done any other time, they'd likely get the boot. This is the most ridiculous, over-the-top, pretentious album I own, and that coming from someone who has tons of prog in his collection. But this album really deserves it, moreso than Tales From Topographic Ocean. What on Earth were Mark Stein, Tim Bogert, Carmine Appice, and Vince Martel thinking? OK, so you can easily blame drugs. They must have taken so much drugs to even think of an album this ridiculous. But the real blame was on Shadow Morton, apparently. They take on the Sonny & Cher song by the same name, really, just mainly doing the theme of it done in bewildering different styles (from dirge to acoustic guitar, to even an actual Vanilla Fudge rendition of the song in question). In between all that you get treated with ragtime, swing, political speeches from various political figures, Beatles, Elvis, and references to the band itself. There are actually flashes of brilliance, I won't deny it, I do enjoy their take on Beethoven, but for the most part it sounded like they were simply messing about trying to bring that BIG MESSAGE. That message showing how music and mankind changes as "The Beat Goes On", obviously nothing that you'd hear from the Sonny & Cher original.

Strangely I don't hate the album. I am one of the rare ones to have listened to it more than once and not be totally disgusted at it. In fact, in my perverted ways I sorta enjoy the album. But of course, they really rebounded BIG TIME (a vast understatement) with the wonderful Renaissance in just a few months. I own the original LP, but I didn't spend much. Three stars for me, but I don't blame you if you feel it deserves less than one star.

 The Beat Goes On by VANILLA FUDGE album cover Studio Album, 1968
1.76 | 51 ratings

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The Beat Goes On
Vanilla Fudge Proto-Prog

Review by KingCrInuYasha

2 stars Oh boy, what did I get myself into?

Around the same time Vanilla Fudge was tinkering with the material that would end up becoming Renaissance, producer George "Shadow" Morton got the bright idea to create an avant-garde album that would detail the history of modern music as well as some other philosophical mumbo jumbo that was all the rage at the time. The Fudge was to provide the musical backdrop, as well as having their name stuck to the project. Not surprising, the band was not too thrilled with the project, but, for whatever reason, be it record company pressure or overall inexperience on the Fudge's part, Mark, Tim, Carmine and Vinnie went along for the ride. The result is widely considered by fans, critics, and even the band members themselves as the worst album of their classic period and, for those who know it exists, one of the most infamous records of 1968.

The bulk of the blame has to go to Morton. This is pure conjecture on my part, but this is probably another case of someone listening to the weirdest of the weird of Frank Zappa's material and thinking they could start a revolution by indulging in the same genre, when in reality, neither Morton nor the Fudge had even a tenth of the familiarity that Zappa had with avant-garde. As a result, instead of creating freaky masterpieces that musically pushed the envelope (e.g., the last third of Freak Out! and the whole of We're Only In It For The Money and Uncle Meat), they ended up with the aural equivalent of an Ed Wood film.

If you hadn't already guessed, the title of the album and the overall concept refers to the Sonny and Cher hit released the previous year, with the song serving as the leitmotif throughout the album. The opening number - which include clips from the title song - is your typical dramatic affair from the Fudge, sounding like something Emerson, Lake & Palmer would eventually do on their first album, before concluding with a clip of Thomas Edison and his famous "Mary had a little lamb" speech from his phonograph demonstration in 1877. We then enter Phase One of the concept, which is the aforementioned musical history lesson. The piece runs through Mozart, parlor music of the 19th and early 20th centuries, rag time, big bands, Elvis and finally the Beatles. On the one hand, the concept is nowhere as deep as it claims to be, being something Disney probably would have done had they managed to get the rights to use the songs. On the other hand, the idea of a musical history lesson presented by a over the top psychedelic band sounds kind of quirky to my ears, with the potential to delight both pop music deconstructionists and kids who want to get into music. Yes, I know it's cheesy, but I like it.

The overall problem with this phase is that the execution kind of leaves a lot to be desired. The popping up of the dramatic "Beat Goes On" theme throughout the suite, played in the exact same way, is too distracting for me. The Moody Blues' "House Of Four Doors" sequence did something similar, but at least that was better integrated, with its theme having a similar vibe as the interludes in that piece. Hearing a dramatic, Hammond organ drenched fanfare right between two ragtime pieces throws me out of the experience. Probably the biggest distraction is when they uses the theme in between "In The Mood" and "Hound Dog" , when they should have played those songs back to back uninterrupted to show the similarities between the songs, which would have fit the theme that "the beat goes on" perfectly. I also wish they added some more songs to the suite in order to flesh out the concept. As it is, I put the suite in the "could have been worse, could have been better" pile; and that's not getting into how The Residents managed to do the concept better when they made Third Reich 'N Roll.

Phase Two involves the Fudge covering Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and Fur Elsie and is the best moment on the album, if only because it's the only phase that isn't based on a really bad idea and it's also the only one where it's fully fleshed out to its potential. It's nothing special, just the boys covering Beethoven in a cheesy, late 1960s fashion, but this type of arrangement was what Fudge did best and they pull it off with aplomb. The tune ends with a chord sequence that sounds a lot like the one near the start of their cover of "Eleanor Rigby" and I wouldn't be surprised if they put the two together in their live shows at the time.

If the first side was a pretentious, yet harmless, affair, then the second half is where the whole concept goes completely off the deep end. Phase Three consists of voice clips of historical figures between the onset of World War Two and John F. Kennedy being inaugurated as president of the United States, with Fudge providing some sparse, average sounding, musical background. I assume this was another piece that protested the Vietnam War, given the war and peace themes, and said cycle of war and peace being another beat that goes on. Some call it art, I call it self-indulgent. This is Vanilla Fudge's equivalent of The Beatles' "Revolution 9", but has nowhere near the amount of unintentional comedy that made it entertaining to listen to. I don't care if it's an anti-war message; there are plenty of (actual) songs out there that make the point better than this mess.

The fourth and final Phase does little to stop this train wreck in progress. The main theme, The Game Is Over, is yet another cover, this time taken from the soundtrack of a 1966 film starring Jane Fonda, IIRC. The music is actually pretty good and quite possibly the saddest sounding piece in the Fudge's output. At least it would be if they hadn't butchered it by a) splitting the piece with some Indian flavored music that would become badly outdated two years later and b) having the band members speak over the music itself, with Vinnie reciting some poetry, Mark quoting Bible verses about the death of Moses, Tim bluntly answering questions in an interview and Carmine just telling the audience to just listen to the music.

And there's your record. I give Morton an A for effort in wanting to tackle a genre he had no experience in as well as dragging Vanilla Fudge, kicking and screaming, into this mess, but I still give it 2/5, and a very, very weak 2/5 at that. The second half is every bit as pointless as its detractors make it out to be and if it wasn't for the novelty and somewhat wasted potential of the first half, it would have gotten a 1/5. If you want to hear what the fuss is all about or have a thing for postmodernism, I suggest either borrowing from a friend or buying the record cheap.

Final rating: 2/5

Personal favorites: "Sketch", the music suite and the Beethoven covers

Personal dislikes: Everything from side two

P.S.: In writing this review, I almost forgot the two bonus tracks attached to some CD versions. Their straightforward cover of The Beatles' " You Can't Do That" isn't too impressive, but it's pleasant when on. The pile driving ballad, "Come By Day, Come By Night", on the other hand, is a nice surprise. It's one of the first songs penned by the Fudge themselves and manages to successfully incorporate their sound in an original setting. The vocals are sublime and I like the cricket chirps Mark gets out of his organ at the beginning. The bonus tracks' presence on this version of the album is enough to make this rating a solid 2/5 instead of a shaky one.

 Renaissance by VANILLA FUDGE album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.10 | 104 ratings

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Renaissance
Vanilla Fudge Proto-Prog

Review by 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.
 Near The Beginning by VANILLA FUDGE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.31 | 57 ratings

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Near The Beginning
Vanilla Fudge Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I remember that I listened to this album for the first time maybe 40 years ago (when I was 8 years old!). I remember that I liked a lot this album then, but I didn`t remember anything about it in the present despite having some very vague good memories about it. Well. I listened to it again today...and the impression that this album gave me has changed a lot 40 years later! Vanilla Fudge was/is a psychedelic rock band and this album is a very good representation of that music style, I think. I found now this album a bit chaotic and without direction sometimes. Very heavy in parts. Very noisy in parts. But not very interesting. With some influences by Iron Butterfly but with a lot of improvisation. Carmine Appice is a very good drummer, and his drums playing is the best part of this album: heavy, energetic, precise. The other members of the band are also very good musicians, and the lead vocals by organist Mark Stein are good. The best song in this album is the long "Break Song" (recorded live) which has some parts played like a heavy blues but with a lot of improvisation, which includes solos by every member of the band, including a powerful drums solo by Appice. But apart from this, the other songs are not very interesting, So I give a three star rating to this album, an album which now sounds very much related to the time it was recorded and released, and a bit dated for my taste. The band`s sound and style maybe inlfuenced other bands in their early stages (Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Led Zeppelin). But ithis album has some excess in some parts. Carmine Appice, in a very curious part of his history, went to play and record albums with Rod Stewart in the seventies-eighties and he even had some songwriting credits with Stewart for songs like "Do Ya Think I`m Sexy" and "Young Turks".
 Rock & Roll by VANILLA FUDGE album cover Studio Album, 1969
2.76 | 35 ratings

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Rock & Roll
Vanilla Fudge Proto-Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

2 stars My knowledge on this American band is too narrow considering its importance in prog's developing years. I'm told it should be in the same level with The Nice, but personally I strongly doubt it. I know this final studio album is not VF at their best, so it's definitely not a good introduction, to me or anyone. It's now re-released by Esoteric Recordings. The liner notes tell about the very hard circumstances of the recording: the group was practically divided in two camps unable to communicate to each other. Since this is my first VF album I can't evaluate how much that can be heard in music (the playing itself is OK), or how much more would I have liked their best works. But this one was as uninteresting to me as the red'n'white cover.

Two - or was it three - of the songs are covers. 'I Can't Make It Alone' is from the Carol King songbook, and not the best part of it. The only track I found worth repeated listenings was the Michel Legrand composition 'The Windmills of Your Mind' because the song is dear to me, mostly due to Dusty Springfield's version. Also Noel Harrison's original performance in the film The Thomas Crown Affair is worth hearing. I can't say I was charmed by Fudge's version, but it's listenable enough. On the whole this feels quite uninspired album of organ-dominated rock'n'roll.

 Near The Beginning by VANILLA FUDGE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.31 | 57 ratings

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Near The Beginning
Vanilla Fudge Proto-Prog

Review by the philosopher

4 stars Near the end of the psychedelic movement many bands recorded jams to show the individual skill of their members. Some bands chose to record studio jams (Love - da Capo; Captain Beefheart - Mirror Man (this was meant to be released on the second Beefheart record as a double record)), whereby others included live jams (Canned Heat - Livin' the Blues). Near the Beginning of Vanilla Fudge also has one side filled with a live recorded jam. Like al the albums named aboth this album got mixed responses by both critics and fans.

The first side of the record contains three songs in a same set-up as the previous "Renaissance" record. The opening track -"Shotgun" is one of the most intense recordings of the 60' with furious guitars, keys and bass lines. This heavy opener contains beside the songstructure some nice solo's of especially Tim Bogert on the bass. "Some Velvet Morning" has a doomy atmosphere with a great dynamical change from heavy to sweet rock as we also saw often on Renaissance. It ends with industrial sounds before going further with "Where is Happiness", which is another psychedelic hardrock effort. This first side of the record will please fans of the previous "Renaissance" record by having the same dynamic approach and quality.

"Break song" is the name of the sidefilling jam. While having a psychedelic hardrock theme this is a loose song which already changes to standard bluesrock within the first minutes. Vince Martell shows quiet impressive guitar handling however and therefor I don't mind the litle complexity of the accompany. Bluesrock as a genre always had great jams and has a better live reputation then the progressive rock genre. The bass solo is almost even more impresssing then the guitar solo. Tim Bogert shows many experimental bass effects which does please me al lot. It is not always nice sounding, but I enjoy the strange sounds because of it's strangeness. The key solo of Mark Stein is good but not as stunning as the earlier solo's. The drum solo is nice, but -as is the case with most drum solo's- gets a bit booring after several listenings.

In total this album is a quiet steady effort and almost as good as the "Renaissance" record. Just excellent psychedelic hardrock!

 The Beat Goes On by VANILLA FUDGE album cover Studio Album, 1968
1.76 | 51 ratings

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The Beat Goes On
Vanilla Fudge Proto-Prog

Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

1 stars Vanilla Fudge's debut may not have moved me a whole lot as a listener, but I certainly understand the album's place as a seminal album in the development of psychedelic and heavy rock music. The success of that album only increases the confusion generated by The Beat Goes On, the American outfit's controversial sophomore observation - this experimental album is a 'head scratcher' for sure, and though some have hailed it as a misunderstood masterpiece, I will join the choir of folks that just don't get it. The Beat Goes On has a few interesting things going on, but the band's total disregard for musical structure and composition makes for a tough pill to swallow, even when looked at from a historical perspective.

Although the music on 1967's Vanilla Fudge was primarily straightforward organ-led psychedelic rock, the same can not be said for The Beat Goes On. There are flirtations with conventional music, like the piano intro "Sketch" and a few Beatles covers in rapid succession, but a majority of the music seems to have very little direction at all - a good portion of side two can hardly be called music, if truth be told. As cool as a sound collage of twentieth century political figures can be if done right, it seems out of place and overly long when it takes up eight minutes on a rock album. The Beat Goes On does have some cool musical ideas from time to time, but they rarely expand beyond interesting fragments; although Vanilla Fudge sticks to cover tracks once again, they never actually recreate any of the tracks they pay homage to. Instead, they briefly touch on numerous compositions, and the result is an incoherent mess.

It's actually a shame that the band never decided to flesh out any of the tunes here, as I think a heavy psychedelic version of "Fur Elise" or "Hound Dog" could have made for an entertaining listen. The Beat Goes On aims to transport the listener through history, musical and otherwise, and although this is a great concept, the execution is baffling. A directionless and confusing album, The Beat Goes On is a failed experiment in my book, and a disappointing followup to Vanilla Fudge's 1967 debut. This is only recommended to the most die-hard of psychedelic collectors - all others should proceed with extreme caution.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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