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VF for the next generation...

I love to "surf" the FM dial when I'm driving in the middle of the night. A couple of weeks ago, I was punching the "seek" button when it stopped on Mark Stein singing Eleanor Rigby. I couldn't believe my ears, I haven't been treated to any other Fudge cut than YKMHO in this (NJ/NY) area in years on the radio. After it was over, I had to suffer through 40 minutes of a zillion different variations of Strawberry Fields, mostly versions of people grabbing the tape reel to make it sound like mush. Anyhow, by the time it was over, I was sitting in my driveway, however I could barely hear the station anymore, competing with another at that freq.

Every time I hear a Fudge cut on the radio, I always listen to the comments about it afterward. I thought after so much time, there'd be no such luck. To my surprise, after the SF mess was done(don't get me wrong, I love The Beatles), the jock came on and said, "First we heard Eleanor Rigby by a group called Vanilla Fudge, which in my opinion, never got the credit they deserved for guiding much of rock music to what it is today..." Now that was music to my ears. I had to know what this station was. It turns out, that it was WPR.. something or other from Princeton, NJ. I can only imagine that it must be the station of Princeton University. The timbre of that station reminded me of the old WFMU underground Upsala college station of 30 years ago.

I have always maintained in my own mind, that as a musician, I do hold very nostalgic feelings towards many bands that influenced me, and I am into much modern rock and blues; meaning I am not a nostalgia freak. However, Vanilla Fudge is different. It is as fresh today as it was thirty years ago, and the fact that "younger" stations are playing it proves it.

Pete


Pete,

and you know why Vanilla Fudge still sounds "fresh"? Because there has been nobody capable up to now to copy them. They are unique, which distinguishes them from the rest of the bands. As I wrote in a different comment on this forum, they're as unique as Neil Young & Crazy Horse. There aren't many bands out there who could claim sounding as "fresh" as 30 years ago.

Eberhard


I agree, Eberhard, and I've always like Neil Young myself, especially from his Buffalo Springfield days with "Expecting To Fly" and "Mr. Soul".

Casey


Neil Young is musically effective when he plays real slow on songs over 6 or so minutes. That's also true regarding Vanilla Fudge. Young as an icon becomes musically effective when he gets angry - and in this respect, Vanilla Fudge have still a bit to add, I guess. What I want to communicate is that it's the long songs that work perfectly well with very good musicians (there are long songs out there which become boring after a few minutes!), while short songs are almost always just statements. Does that make sense? Hm, I guess I have to think it over again.


**and you know why Vanilla Fudge still sounds "fresh"? Because there has been nobody capable up to now to copy them. **

Eberhard, couldn't agree with you more...

Pete


There was a USA band in the late 60's who were not Fudge copyists at all, but did have quite a few elements of the same sound & dynamics. Does anyone remember GROUP THERAPY? If you imagine the Fudge backing the RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS, you would not be far short..

I kid you not, these guys were HOT!! Regretably, although they recorded three albums (only one released in the UK) these were a very disappointing indeed, and not even remotely close to the live effect. They needed The Shadow!! My wife, who is a US citizen, seems to be the only person who remembers this band over here, apart from myself, and they made the same impression upon her when she caught them live in the States. They were featured on a UK pop TV program called "Colour Me Pop" (in '69, I guess..), and the show was DYNAMITE.

Phil


Hi Pete,

Great observations - thanks!

However, Vanilla Fudge is different. It is as fresh today as it was thirty years ago, and the fact that "younger" stations are playing it proves it. <>Great and original music is timeless...

Time alone will vindicate those musical works that have been so shamelessly misrepresented by the music industry's own media. So much that has succeeded in the post world war music world has been the product of the industries own media and marketing strategies. Eric Clapton was maybe the "best looking guitarist" but certainly not the best guitarist of his era (IMHO the only "cream" in Cream was Jack Bruce). The Grateful Dead were a cultural phenomena - not a musical one, if we base our judgement soley on their recorded works.

Perhaps no band has endured a more negative press in the last thirty years than Vanilla Fudge. The fact their music sold as well as it did testifies to the intrinsic musical merits of their recorded works and live performances. The music audience, when exposed to great music, always responds to it - regardless of what the media says. A century from now the popular successes of our day will be footnotes in the annals of musical history while the neglected arrangers, composers and performers will be celebrated for the enduring musical legacy they left behind them. Peace,Bill


Eric Clapton was maybe the "best looking guitarist" but certainly not the best guitarist of his era (IMHO the only "cream" in Cream was Jack Bruce). The Grateful Dead were a cultural phenomena - not a musical one, if we base our judgement soley on their recorded works.<> Examining Eric Clapton as the individual musician in Cream, your observation may be true. Cream and The Grateful Dead are good examples, and I might add The Beatles, where the sum is greater than the individual parts. Individual musicianship, or "chops" aren't always everything. It's more often the groove that counts. Cream, with Eric Clapton, the Dead, The Beatles and the Fudge are coincidentally all excellent examples of this. What defines "best"? Speed? Sound? Taste? All of these? For example, let's compare Carmine to Ringo. I can't think of two styles that are at more opposite ends of the spectrum. Yet, each are masters. They both know what to play and when to play it. Ringo the master "time machine" and Carmine the "master of syncopation."

You mentioned Eric Clapton. Eric Clapton was a soloist. He almost had to be in Cream. In Vanilla Fudge, Vince was not. At least, not in the first three albums, really. There is a big difference in how a musician plays in a trio vs. a quartet in rock. Here again, Vince played pretty much orchestrated parts as did all Fudge members. This was the Fudge style. I don't think that Vince ever got the credit he deserved because of it. He plays what fits. He didn't have to take off and leave the rest of the band behind like so many guitarists do. Yet, his parts were played with such confidence and accuracy, along with many very tricky parts, he definitely let you know he has chops without cracking the symphonic style.

My guess is, the Fudge compiled The Break Song more or less from a little frustration more than anything else; to let the musical snobs know that they all really do have chops. Think about it. Four musicians who sacrificed individual fame, per se, for the good of the band, ie, the Vanilla Fudge style. How many people have heard of, and liked Vanilla Fudge? Millions. How many non-Fudge freaks know who was in it? I rest my case. When I mention Tim Bogert to my musician friends as being my biggest influence, most, the younger ones anyway, say "Oh yeah, Cactus." And I say, "yeah, and Vanilla Fudge too." "Yeah? He was in Vanilla Fudge? They were great!" You mention Vanilla Fudge, and right away the "he" turns into "they". Even though Tim displayed his chops in all the Fudge albums, the parts fit together so well, that the average listener would tend to notice the entire piece, rather than the individual musicianship. While on the contrary, with Cream, practically every song had a pronounced guitar solo, driving active Jack Bruce bass lines, and almost non-stop pounding Ginger. Yet, while these three are all excellent musicians, in Cream, the sum was again greater than the parts but Cream's style lent them to become individual stars.

Lastly, the organ was invented to mimic an orchestra. Mark probably had the best chance to display his personal talent as so many Fudge arrangements were Hammond based. What better way to accentuate symphonic rock? Even here, his parts were pre-contrived orchestrated parts in 99% of their material. Without thinking too hard, except for She's Not There, not until Near the Beginning and Rock & Roll was even he allowed to really take off!

Bite my tongue! I could go on for hours 'bout this! This is my love, analyzing the music!

Pete


Hi Pete!

What defines "best"? Speed? Sound? Taste? All of these?<>"Best", "super", "cream" etc are all marketing terms having no real application in music.

For example, let's compare Carmine to Ringo. I can't think of two styles that are at more opposite ends of the spectrum. Yet, each are masters.<>Yep but some of the Beatle recordings are already sounding more "dated" than the Fudge.The Beatles wrote great songs but they have proved less durable as arrangers and performers.

My point was to compare the overall impact of favorable press on an ordinary artist. Well before Cream made it's debut tour in the US the "market" or audience had been deluged by the media with the "Clapton is god" slogan. The fact was that Clapton was a competent guitarist no better than many of his contemporaries and not as good as some of them.

A good example of a 3man band (not counting vocalist) recording a live album better than anything Cream ever did was the Who's "Live at Leeds". Baker and Clapton simply did not have the skills to "fill in" the sound at a live Cream performance.

Townsend, in the vein of Martell, employed "power chords" to steer the groove and fill the sound on stage. Both Vanilla Fudge and the Who had an incredible rhythm section that few guitarists could keep up with for any length of time-especially if they were trying to compete with lead riffs instead of joining the flow of the rhythm avalanche. Martell, with the assistance of Stein's organ, lasted longer than any other guitarist with the Bogert/Appice unit. Townsend did likewise with Entwistle and Moon. By comparison, Jack Bruce was left to carry the groove alone, while performing with Cream. Note how Bruce's solo albums (ie Harmony Row, Songs for a Tailor) do not sound as dated as the Cream albums. Likewise the Fudge recordings have remained more timeless than many of their contemporaries. At least, that's how I see it as a fan.

The Dead were a much larger ensemble but could still not compete with more skilled ensembles of similar size (ie Edgar Winter's White Trash & Allman Bros.) or smaller (Fudge, Who). They again had great press and succesfully sold many records competitively. I'm not saying they were bad. I'm just saying that a lot of their success was more marketing strategy than musical. All the best, Bill


Hi Bill,

Actually, I think in most respects, we actually agree!

*"Best", "super", "cream" etc are all marketing terms having no real application in music.*

I don't necessarily think they are marketing terms, more subjective terms, but I agree they don't have much place in music. Beauty is in the eye...

*Yep but some of the Beatle recordings are already sounding more "dated" than the Fudge.The Beatles wrote great songs but they have proved less durable as arrangers and performers.*

I might have to disagree with you a little here. The Beatles were excellent songwriters, well, at least three of them were, but I think they dated themselves before time did. I don't think any rock band in history changed as much as they did to try to stay on the cutting edge. Performers? I've only seen Ringo and hi All Starr band. One of the best concerts I've ever been to. He's not much of a front man, but he can play the drums. Quick anecdote here. I live in NJ. I saw Ringo at the Garden State Arts Center near the Jersey shore. On that tour, he had Clarence Clemmons in his band. Getting the picture yet? As I leaned over to whisper in my wife's ear, "gee, I wonder if Bru..", out walked Bruce Springsteen onstage. Well, needless to say, the audience went wild. They hububbed on stage for a minute, I'm assuming they were deciding what to play. After about 3 minutes of cheering, Ringo climbed up on the riser and behind his kit. Bruce was just hanging quietly on the microphone stand. The place finally fell silent. When it did, Bruce sllooowwwly turned his head around and looked back at Ringo, then slowly around back at the audience. With all humility, he quietly said, "I can NOT believe I'm going to play this song, with RINGO STARR playing the drums." He then wailed in to Long Tall Sally. It was the highlight of the show. Not just because Bruce was there, it was because the whole band, Ringo too, wailed! In all the clips, all the movies I've ever seen of The Beatles, I'd never seen Ringo play like that. Solo like Carmine? Never. Drive a band? You bet! And Paul McCartney? One of rock's most melodic bass players ever in his time. My Fender Jbass, my oldest, has a nickname. It's TP. Guess what TP stands for? Hard one, huh! My two biggest influences.

*My point was to compare the overall impact of favorable press on an ordinary artist. Well before Cream made it's debut tour in the US the "market" or audience had been deluged by the media with the "Clapton is god" slogan. The fact was that Clapton was a competent guitarist no better than many of his contemporaries and not as good as some of them.*

I couldn't really comment without the clarification of what "good as" means. Again, chops? You're probably right. A good head for blues? Well, then I think he rates right up there. His playing is very emotional, although, I admit I was not a huge Cream fan. I have only one album. Oh, and I think if I hear Sunshine of Your Love one more time, I might puke. But, Derek and the Dominos? Great stuff!

*A good example of a 3man band (not counting vocalist) recording a live album better than anything Cream ever did was the Who's "Live at Leeds". Baker and Clapton simply did not have the skills to "fill in" the sound at a live Cream performance.*

I think I said before, in so many words, that Cream was a little hollow, but... I don't believe it's solely the guitarist's job to fill it in, it's equally the bass player's job. That's why I said in my last message that playing in a trio is so much different than a quartet. And, I think I'd have Tim Bogert's backing on this with me, especially in blues where there is so much soloing. He does mention something of the sort in one of his instructional videos on six string bass.

*Townsend, in the vein of Martell, employed "power chords" to steer the groove and fill the sound on stage. Both Vanilla Fudge and the Who had an incredible rhythm section that few guitarists could keep up with for any length of time-especially if they were trying to compete with lead riffs instead of joining the flow of the rhythm avalanche. Martell, with the assistance of Stein's organ, lasted longer than any other guitarist with the Bogert/Appice unit. Townsend did likewise with Entwistle and Moon.*

I agree completely. You don't compete with Bogert/Appice, you flow with it, something egotistical guitar players might have a problem with! I think the Bogert/Appice rhythm section breaks the pyramid model with the guitarist on top. Their heads are so together, and their grooves so syncopated, that they need to have the guitarist in synch with them, not necessarily leading them. Again, I think a fat headed guitarist would have a problem with that.

* By comparison, Jack Bruce was left to carry the groove alone, while performing with Cream. Note how Bruce's solo albums (ie Harmony Row, Songs for a Tailor) do not sound as dated as the Cream albums.*

I'll reiterate that I do believe that as a bass player, that was part of Bruce's job. I'm not familiar with his solo work. My opinion? Eric Clapton is one of the best. I think Cream sounded hollow because Baker and Bruce didn't mesh well at all as a rhythm section. I think they were on separate planets most of the time. I'm not speaking categorically here, just generally. There were exceptions. You might be surprised to hear what I think was Cream's strongest glue... the Clapton/Bruce vocals!

*The Dead were a much larger ensemble but could still not compete with more skilled ensembles of similar size (ie Edgar Winter's White Trash & Allman Bros.) or smaller (Fudge, Who).*

I was never a Deadhead. However, their cultural impact I think was a combination of their location, their timing, their initial following, and yes, their music. Their lyrics may have motivated their fans more than their music, as I always thought it was kind of milktoast. If the fans wanted to lay around in tiedied and get high and just "keep on truckin'", well, I guess an awful lot of people were/are in to that. I guess the bottom line is, I'm not sure the media can really keep hype going that long to keep musicians in the spotlight without there being some underlying talent, but I do believe the press can kill ya in an instant!

Pete


Hi Pete!

That sounds like an incredible experience seeing Ringo with Springsteen and Clemmons cranking on "Long Tall Sally".

But, Derek and the Dominos? Great stuff!<>"Laylah & Other Love Songs" was a wonderful guitar album but I have to give a lot of the credit to Duane Allman. Even the little riff at the begining of "Laylah" was Allman's according to the liner notes of the Boxed Set 3cd reissue of the album.

From the 60's/early 70's era I liked (off the top of my head) : Peter Green,Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher, Clem Clempson,Johnny Winter, Rick Derringer, Mike Bloomfield, Leslie West and the great power chord masters we've been discussing like Martell and Townsend.

I'm not familiar with his solo work.<>It may be tough to find now, but if you get the chance, check out Jack Bruce's Harmony Row or Songs for a Tailor. Both are wonderful albums with some of the best songs Bruce/Brown ever wrote. A few years back Bruce released "A MAtter of Time" which is also pretty good. If you like Clemmons and the E street band, you'll love (maybe) Bruce/Hiseman/ Heckstall-Smith, who did their thing over 25 years ago on "Songs for a Tailor". Jon Hiseman was the great (unsung) drummer for Colosseum who replaced Ginger Baker in the Graham Bond Oganization when Baker left to form Cream.

Peace, Bill


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