VANILLA FUDGE - Vanilla Fudge (1967) - The Beat Goes On (1968) - Renaissance (1968) - Near the Beginning (1969)
Vanilla Fudge was one of the few American links between psychedelia and what soon became heavy metal. While the band did record original material, they were best known for their loud, heavy, slowed-down arrangements of contemporary pop songs, blowing them up to epic proportions and bathing them in a trippy, distorted haze. Originally, Vanilla Fudge was a blue-eyed soul cover band called the Electric Pigeons, who formed on Long Island, NY, in 1965. Things started to pick up for the band in 1968: early in the year, they headlined the Fillmore West with the Steve Miller Band, performed "You Keep Me Hangin' On" on The Ed Sullivan Show, and released their second album, The Beat Goes On. Despite its somewhat arty, indulgent qualities, the LP was a hit, climbing into the Top 20. That summer, Atco reissued "You Keep Me Hangin' On," and the second time around it climbed into the Top Ten. It was followed by Renaissance, one of Vanilla Fudge's best albums, which also hit the Top 20. The band supported it by touring with Jimi Hendrix, opening several dates on Cream's farewell tour, and late in the year touring again with the fledgling Led Zeppelin as their opening act.
In 1969, the band kept touring and released their first album without Morton, the expansive, symphonic-tinged Near the Beginning. After part of the band recorded a radio commercial with guitarist Jeff Beck, the idea was hatched to form a Cream-styled power trio with plenty of individual solo spotlights. Exhausted by the constant touring, the band decided that their late-1969 European tour would be their last. Following the release of their final album, Rock & Roll, Vanilla Fudge played a few U.S. farewell dates and disbanded in early 1970. Bogert and Appice first formed the hard rock group Cactus, then later joined up with Jeff Beck in the aptly named Beck, Bogert & Appice. Appice went on to become an active session and touring musician, working with a variety of rock and hard rock artists. Vanilla Fudge reunited in 1984 for the poorly received Mystery album, and have since reunited several more times, though only for tours. Their most recent incarnation features keyboardist Bill Pascali in place of Mark Stein.
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