Friday, June 21, 2024

Vanilla Fudge – Vanilla Zeppelin

Vanilla Fudge and Led Zeppelin have some shared history between them. When Zep first toured the States in 1968 they opened for the Fudge, who then rode high in the charts, and they went on to share the same bill on several occasions. But, whereas Led Zep went on to scale stratospheric heights, the Fudge’s star waned somewhat in the early seventies, and they entered into a lengthy hiatus, reforming in the mid-80s.

Once perceived as being one of the few American bands who linked psychedelia and heavy rock, they’ve continued to make new albums of original tunes, but mostly they’re known for the way they took other people’s songs and virtually ‘recreated’ them in their own image, building their rep on a brilliant reimagining of The Supremes’ hit ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’. When this approach worked, it was great (Donovan’s ‘Season Of The Witch’ being a glorious example) but when it didn’t it bordered on criminal … The Beatles ‘Eleanor Rigby’. On this new album, they’ve turned their attention to the catalogue of Led Zep, selecting several tunes from right across Led Zep’s career and ‘Fudging’ them up. But, whilst the Fudge does have some rock cred, if you’re a Led Zep purist, then look away now as you might not like what follows. This is Led Zep done Fudge style as only the Fudge could do.

Vanilla Fudge have taken several of Led Zep’s best-known works, plus a few lesser-known tracks, and in some cases arranged them differently. ‘Immigrant Song’ starts with a synth before the tune kicks in, and it’d be fair to say this isn’t the Fudge’s finest hour. The intro to ‘Black Mountain Way’ could be mistaken for Riverside though the instrumental itself is played well enough. But it’s when the Fudge attempt some of Zep’s mightiest ‘live’ numbers, such as ‘Rock ‘n Roll’ and ‘Dazed & Confused’, you realise this might not have been their best decision. Hearing ‘Rock ‘n Roll’ played with keyboard backing is a novel experience, and it’s a brave band who’ll attempt to cover ‘Dazed And Confused’, but while valiant attempts are made, sadly neither song includes anything like the momentum and power Led Zep put into each number. ‘Ramble On’ and ‘Your Time Is Gonna Come’ are both handled competently, with ‘Dancing Days’ being very heavy on the keys. ‘Moby Dick’ comes close to a Psych jam in places before Vinny Appice does a drum solo. Credit to Vinny as not too many 74-year-old guys can drum like this. They conclude with versions of ‘All Of My Love‘ and ‘Fool In The Rain’, both reasonably faithful to the original versions.

So, have the Fudge done justice to Led Zep’s legacy or should this album be filed under why did they bother?  Some of both, methinks, though inclining more towards the latter. I’ve got a soft spot for some of the Fudge’s earlier works, but I do wonder what was the point of this exercise?

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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1 COMMENT

  1. If you wanted Vanilla Fudge to copy Zeppelin’s songs exactly as they were presented than listen to a tribute band. I think Vanilla Fudge did a great job with their own versions of the songs. That’s what they do best!
    Remember Zeppelin copied a lot of great blues legends with their own versions and didn’t even give them credit. I think your review of the Fudge’s album is horrible, you must be a Rolling Stone Magazine clone, let’s bash everything! I’m interviewing Mark Stein this week… and you count on a great review from me.
    Ray Shasho
    Music Journalist/Author/Talk Show Host Interviewing the Legends

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Vanilla Fudge and Led Zeppelin have some shared history between them. When Zep first toured the States in 1968 they opened for the Fudge, who then rode high in the charts, and they went on to share the same bill on several occasions. But,...Vanilla Fudge - Vanilla Zeppelin