Vanilla Fudge: The Complete Atco Singles

VanillaFudge_TheCompleteAtcoSinglesHeavy ’60s covers of pop, soul and folk hits in original mono

This Long Island quartet grew from a blue-eyed soul act into one of the progenitors of what would eventually be labeled “heavy metal.” The group’s soul background is evident in their selection of cover material, but their mid-to-late 60s prime was also heavily influenced by the psychedelic era. Combining the two, Vanilla Fudge turned out a series of singles that relied heavily on slowed-down arrangements of then-contemporary covers, enlarged to nearly operatic size by producer Shadow Morton.

The band’s debut cover of the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” stalled on the charts in 1967, but reissued in 1968, it climbed into the Top 10. The arrangement, supported by Mark Stein’s organ, the heavy rhythm section of Tim Bogart and Carmine Appice and unison backing vocals was a template for what was to come. The single’s original B-side, a cover of Evie Sands’ “Take Me for a Little While,” was also re-released as an A-side in ’68, and charted in the Top 40, sounding like a heavy version of the Rascals, and showing off the quartet’s instrumental talent in Bogart’s bass solo.

The band landed a few more singles in the Top 100, including the original title “Where in My Mind” and a two-part cover of Donovan’s “Season of the Witch” that was generously carved from the lengthy album track. They softened their sound into a soul croon for Bacharach and David’s “Look of Love,” but this was unusual for a single. More typical is their hard-rocking cover of “Shotgun,” with its wailing guitar and full-kit drum fills, and the strutting B-side original “Good Good Lovin’.” Perhaps the band’s most miraculous single was their cover of Lee Hazelwood’s “Some Velvet Morning,” which somehow managed to cram 7’34 onto a seven-inch, 45 RPM record. A three-minute DJ promo edit is included in this set as a bonus.

After their initial success on the singles chart, the band continued to score with albums and on the concert stage. Their later singles featured a greater helping of original material, but failed to score commercially. These eighteen tracks represent all ten of the band’s commercially released singles for Atco; all that’s missing is a DJ-only promo single of “Eleanor Rigby” and “Ticket to Ride.” As the band became an album attraction, it’s interesting to hear how they were still represented in the singles market with punchy mono mixes (all but 1984’s synth-laced reunion single “Mystery” b/w “The Strangler”) that really should have gotten more radio love. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

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