Shadow Morton
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On to Renaissance. Regardless of what we think of The Beat Goes On, you were obviously under pressure from Atlantic to quickly produce another album. Were you satisfied with Renaissance or was it thrown together?

    In my opinion, there were moments in it that I loved it. There were just as many more moments when it wasn't. It was just thrown together.

    Again I have to say that everybody went along with that - that doesn't count - that's what my job is. I should have not gone along with that. I should have backed off and sat down with people and told them we're not doing anything for 6 months. I don't care - we'll come again on the 3rd album as if it's the 1st. Rather than come with the 3rd album and start a slide that's going to be hard to stop. Because it wasn't up to the Fudge. In fact, Renaissance is a great album but not as great as the Fudge are.

Are there any tracks that you produced with them that are still in the can?

    Yeah.

Such as??

    Oh I'd have to go get out the titles and look at them.

There's one that Carmine alluded to in his interview: You Can't Do That, by the Beatles?

    Yes.

But there's more?

    Yes. Again I don't go by total recall. We ran a lot of things down. And as you mentioned earlier these boys had the ability to give incredible performances in one or two takes. So we could be running down a song to see how it sounded and like I said, I always kept a quarter reel going. At the end of two times around, we could have said, nah, that's not it. But that makes it down on tape.

    Not that I recall exactly, but the last information sent me is that there are about 9 sides. Someone else said 16 sides, but I find that very hard to believe.

Well, nine. That's an album right there!

    I know.

Would those tapes still exist?

    I don't know but I could easily find out.

Would you?

    Yeah, but I don't see what it would avail at this stage of the game. Tell me why?

So we could hear them.

    [Laughs] What a silly guy I am! It's so obvious!

We'd love to hear anything they did. When you're fans like we are, they can do no wrong.

    Yeah, I'll have to see about digging them out. Everything we've done - I'm not sure if the separation is perfect... Except what I said we always kept a quarter track going. And I'm sure if those tapes still exist, and I was told that they do, I'm sure there's a great deal of conversation on those tapes. Which when you get into what's happening in the world today with collectors and others, it would be very easy to do with the Fudge what people are asking me to do with the Shangri-Las - going in and taking outtakes and start taping conversations. So we pick it up with said comments about certain songs before you play them. It would be a hell of a new album.

Of the 4 members of the Fudge - working with them - when you were working with them, was there anyone that you enjoyed working with the most? Was there one that sort of stood out more?

    No.

Great.

    I like them all. They all had their own personalities. They were all different individuals. With some of these big groups, I cannot say that - they're almost like clones of one another.

    But Vinny... [Laughs] Vinny was not the spirit of it - Vinny was the innocent. I mean none of them knew about the music business or what the hell we were doing. If I had to describe Vinny, and give him a name, you know the expression "remain childlike"?, which is the spiritual way of saying - God once said to us - "unless you remain childlike, you shall not enter the portals of heaven". Vinny to me was that innocent, childlike spirit. And that's his contribution that's coming through. Vinny was the other side of 3 of the coins.

    That was... besides his being a great guitar player, that was his contribution. That was something you can't touch or find. Oh why him? Oh why Timmy? Timmy did it because he was a master. Mark did it because he was a symphonic explosion - borderline never knowing where the hell he was going. Carmine was totally theatrical, besides being incredible. Each one of them had their own type of personalities. And that was...

    I remember once, when I worked out of Ultra-Sonic I had an office across the street, which is how I conned Ahmet Ertegun into telling him I would do Iron Butterfly. He said, promise me you'll do it. I said, I promise I will oversee the Iron Butterfly. This was after 3 months of nagging my ass. I said "If you'll record them at Ultra-Sonic, I'll oversee the sessions."

    What he didn't know was that my offices were across the street from the studio - one flight up over above them. So I could look down into the studio. Therefore, I was overseeing them. [Chuckles]. And Ahmet never figured that out [Chuckles].

    But they'll tell you that there were several places in the neighborhood where I did my drinking. And there was a place up on the corner. And most of these places, I would walk in and sit down. And they would put a telephone on my table and I had my own telephone lines running in these bars. They were my private phones and I was sitting there waiting for a call, having a Baccardi and Vinny came through the door, and rarely did the boys show up at any of these bars. Vinny came through the door and he sat down and he was all smiles - and the record, you know, had become a hit.

    And he's smiling at me. And I said, "Ya happy?". He said: "I'm so excited - I'm so happy!" And I thought he was talking about the record. I'm sitting there sipping on my drink and he's just smiling... And I said: "What are you so happy about?", 'cause I figured out by now there's something going on.

    He says: "I got my Corvette!" [Laughs]... And I'm looking at him saying to myself, "Son of a Bitch! You're a f.....' Rock and Roll star. What do you mean you got a Corvette?" And I said, I'm looking at a boy here, he was so tickled, and he was going, "I got my Corvette!"

You know, he's one of the nicest guys I ever met.

    Yes, he is...

Yeah, he's a gentleman to no end. Unbelievable. And I also think he's one of the biggest unsung guitarists I've ever heard before.

    Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely.

The poem that you read in the middle of Season of the Witch [Renaissance], what is the significance, if any?

    Those were the words of a drunk...

Uh, can you explain?

    And here we sit emerged in a liquid sea of love... That was the alcohol. Shimmering rainbows and silver sky above... Did you ever see the glasses hanging upside down over a bar? ...a looking glass that reflects, a past. Sitting at a bar looking at myself in the mirror behind the cash register. Tide with seaweed all around, like willows - upside down... alcohol surrounding me. You caress my heart, caress my soul. My security. Surround my limbs. You laugh? You'll laugh. And hold my body fast. Again the grip it had on me. And we wake up and sit here thinking, thinking about the times we used to have, and know they're gone forever. We'll never learn, never learn. I'd have things within reach and I'd blow it. I thought I'd never learn. ...But I did.
     

Did you ever hear "Mystery" [1984 Vanilla Fudge reunion LP produced by Spencer Proffer]?

    I don't think so.

OK. Then I guess I can't ask you if you liked it or not.

    [Laughs].

[Laughs] Here's a hypothetical question: The Fudge are reuniting again and they've asked you to produce them. On a scale of one to ten what's your enthusiasm level?

    Eleven!

    ....[Sighs] Like I said before, if people would ask me if I was going back into the old days or if I was going to do a new version of Leader [Leader of the Pack" - Shangri-Las hit]. I mean, what a dumb f...... thing to say. What the f... do you think I am - in a wheel chair? Holy shit! I'm probably the only f...... producer in the world that had as many successes as I've had and there's not one gold record hanging up on my wall - not one! There are no tapes of anything I've ever produced in my apartment. And I love the music I'm doing at the moment. I'm doing it! The memories are good. That doesn't mean I've got to play them over and over to show the whole world what I did. That's just my feeling about things but when people ask me would you go back...

    And I've said it in the press a couple of times. The only group I would love to do again is the Vanilla Fudge. Because that's a labor of love. But I'm not sure anybody else that I produced, reading that, is going to be too thrilled [Laughs].

That's great! All right, I'm on the last page here. Just a few more. OK, this was Casey's question: There are four Fudge alive and well but they can't get the crap out of the way to blast the world apart again. What can we do to help them? What do you think we should do?

    Hmmm.. When you say we, are you talking about you and Casey?

Really more all of us fans...

    I don't know... That is the reason that earlier I mentioned that you should put something on the Web site optimistically [about a new album]. There would have to be enough response from the fans.

    ...Here's one thing I [would insist on if I produced them again], and if I could not get an OK on this I would not walk through the studio door. There is no original material on [the first] album. Nobody in this group plays songwriter.

    This group has the greatest - EVERY group should die for the position this group is in!

    Which is, they take other peoples' material and rewrite it, redo it, reshape it. They make symphonies out of it. That's their forte. That's what they do.

    And now we've got nearly 30 years of music to pick from! OK? And... in a joking way but almost serious... I would allow each man, including me, to submit ten songs they'd like to see on the album. Where there were any duplications - two people picking the same song - that's a definite, that's in. After that, all of them go into a fish bowl and we're going to draw.

I love what you're saying.

    And it's that simple... Keep the Fudge in their mold - in their loop. Let them do what they do better than any other group's ever done.

 

You know there's one more question I have to ask, don't you?

    Go ahead.

You can't guess what it is... from the first album?

    What about it?

The one question the Fudge can't even answer.

    Oh please! [Laughs] I'm not answering! [Laughs]

Ah, come on! But nobody knows except you!

    [Softly] Who Lucy Monaco was?

Of course!

    [Pause, softly] Does Carmine know?

No. We've asked all four of them. The only answer that we've gotten out of them is that it was just someone that was very special to you but they don't really know anything about her.

    OK. You tell them the next time the five of us are in a studio I'll give them the answer. All right?

And how about you'll maybe print it on the next album jacket for the fans?

    Oh yeah. Absolutely.

That is the one question the fans write in and ask more than any other - other than when are they getting back together again. "Does anybody know who Lucy Monaco is?"

    [Laughs]

So that has to be part of the deal. You have to print who she is on the CD sleeve.

    Absolutely.

OK, Shadow, thanks a million. Take care.

    All right - till next time!
     


This was a fantastic experience for me, and I want to give my heartfelt thanks to Shadow.

Learn more about this remarkable man and his current and future plans for his Internet sitee. Please visit his Web site at www.ShadowMorton.com!

- Pete Bremy

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Copyright © 1998 by Peter E. Bremy.
The Vanilla Fudge Web Site Compilation is Copyright © 1999 by Vanilla Fudge.