Vanilla Fudge was one of the first American groups to infuse psychedelia into heavy rock sound to create “psychedelic symphonic rock” an eclectic genre that would, among its many offshoots, eventually morph into heavy metal – They proved a major influence for British bands like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep in their early days.
Although, at first, the band did not record original material, they were best known for their dramatic heavy, slowed-down arrangements of contemporary pop songs which they developed into works of epic proportion.
Most notably, a psychedelic heavy riffed version of The Supremes‘ ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’, released as a single back in 1967 – Their version scoring again with today’s audience when featured in the Quentin Tarantino movie Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
Originally, Vanilla Fudge was a blue-eyed soul cover band called The Pigeons who formed in New Jersey in 1965 and were inspired by groups such as The Rascals and The Vagrants (fronted by guitarist Leslie West of Mountain fame),
Featuring organist, Mark Stein, bassist Tim Bogert, drummer Joey Brennan, and guitarist/vocalist Vince Martell, Vanilla Fudge built a following by gigging extensively up and down the East Coast and earned extra money by providing freelance in-concert backing for hit-record girl groups. They renamed themselves in 1966 when Carmine Appice joined on drums.
After three albums, they split for the first time in 1970, with Appice and Bogert going on to form Cactus and later become two-thirds of Beck, Bogert & Appice. However, Vanilla Fudge has reformed several times since, in assorted permutations, and in 2017 celebrated their 50-Year Anniversary, still rocking the world as hard as ever.
Last year, the band signed with Golden Robot Records, and are due to release a new studio album later this year. Titled The Supreme Vanilla Fudge – It will, naturally enough, see them rework 10 songs from the legendary Motown group The Supremes.
The Supreme Vanilla Fudge will feature all four original band members: Mark Stein (keyboards), Carmine Appice (drums), Vinnie Martel (guitar)and bass player Tim Bogert (Who sadly passed away on 13th January this year, after a long battle with cancer; he was aged 76), along with touring bassist Pete Bremy.
However, they pre-empted that release by bringing out a remastered cover of Led Zeppelin‘s ‘The Immigrant Song’ as a single last year.
“’Immigrant Song’ by Led Zeppelin is one of the monster tracks of all time. How do you top that? Well, you can’t but we decided to just have fun with it,” said Mark Stein.
“I came up with this ‘On Green Dolphin Street’ kinda chord progression as the intro on the synth with a heavy-duty brass sound that worked pretty well. The guys fell into it right quick and it rocks the house. Carmine did a great job with the drum track and Tim and Vince killed it. I did the vocals in Florida and sent it back to Carmine in Los Angeles and he mixed it. Hope you dig it.”
The original cover version appeared on Vanilla Fudge‘s 2007 Led Zeppelin tribute album Out Through the In Door, that also looks set for a rerelease now the band has signed to Golden Robot Records. Not least because on 2nd March, they release another Zep classic as a single in the form of ‘Rock and Roll’.
Vanilla Fudge add their own slant to the track, adding a little soul vibe and what’s been described as “amazing organ interludes”. You can pre-order/pre-save ‘Rock and Roll’ here and ’The Immigrant Song’ here, as well as catching the video to it right here at RAMzine.