Vanilla Fudge – Vanilla Fudge

ImageAlthough Vanilla Fudge has often been described as one of the greatest cover bands of the 60s, this self-titled debut album remains exquisitely unique. Released on Atco Records in 1967, this Vanilla Fudge is composed of almost entirely covers except for a few short interval instrumental songs. Despite the fact that most of these songs are considered cover songs, Vanilla Fudge is able to inject such an exuberant amount of psychedelic sound into the very core of each song, warping and distorting the sound so many times over that the word “cover” no longer seems very accurate. For example, the opening track is a cover of The Beatles’ famous song “Ticket to Ride.” However, it is immediately clear that this version of the song is unlike any other version of the song previously recorded. For starters, the entire song is played at a much slower tempo. Slowing the tempo of songs would become the signature style of Vanilla Fudge. This technique allows the band to explore more distortion, extend solos and jams, and tap into the very depth of sound. “Ticket to Ride” is a psychedelic combination of all of these features, including Mark Stein’s extensive keyboard jams. Most of the album continues in this exploratory vein with each cover song having its own highs and lows of experimental psychedelic exploration.  Perhaps one of the most unique and personally gratifying covers is that of Cher’s “Bang Bang.” It contains a variety of quick guitar jams and dominant keyboard numbers all while maintaining a loosely centered core of this Cher’s original song. While their unique covers are usually what draws fans in, they can also have the opposite effect on listeners. After going through an entire album, their experimental psychedelic sound can become nearly formulaic and even burdening. While their ability to explore the depth of popular rock songs is unquestioned, this can act as both a gift and a curse depending upon the listener’s mindset and sensibilities. That being said, this album is worth picking up purely for its one-of-a-kind approach to rock ‘n’ roll.  B