VANILLA FUDGE (1967):
Look: In '67 the Pigeons, now with Carmine Appice, continued working the Action House and other clubs along the eastern circuit. Phil Basille, their manager, used his contacts to have George "Shadow" Morton (producer & songwriter, 1942) come and listen to the band one night at the Action House.
Background: Morton was a record producer who had grown up on the streets of Brooklyn with a summa cum laudi degree from the school of real life Brooklyn-style. Before joining Red Bird Records as a song writing producer in 1964, he had worked as a club bouncer, ice cream vendor and hairdresser. He wrote and produced the first of many hit singles recorded by the Shangri-Las, Remember (Walkin in the Sand) in 1964 (Billboard #5). By '66-67 Shadow had begun producing "protest music" by such artists as Richie Havens and Janis Ian ("Society's Child").
In an interview with Goldmine Magazine's Richard Arfin, Morton recalled how he was on his way out the door when the Pigeons began to play their version of You Keep Me Hangin' On. Immediately Morton turned around, sat down, and with rapt attention listened to a musical sound he had never heard before. Later in the same week, working through Phil Basille, Shadow arranged for the Pigeons to let him record their version of the Holland Dozier Holland song without a recording contract. In a radio interview over twenty years later, Tim Bogert recollected how the band and Morton recorded the song in only one take. With the record in hand, Shadow Morton went in search of a recording contract and radio exposure for the single. After a fierce bidding war, Atlantic's Ahmet Ertegun signed the band in April or May to ATCO Records. Ertegun insisted that the original one take recording of You Keep Me Hangin' On be released on the ATCO label. On 2 June 1967, ATCO released the single together with another new arrangement of the Labelle hit, Take Me For A Little While on the B-side.
Backup a minute: By April-May 1967, the Pigeons had changed their name to Vanilla Fudge. The name had been suggested by a female vocalist in a local band called the Unspoken Word (no-not a Shriner's Band - I said female vocalist). The vocalist had a real passion for the novelty "Drumstick" brand ice cream cones - especially the Vanilla Fudge flavored ones. At the time nobody connected the new name with any symbolic allusions to "white soul" - that came later. For now we can only observe how the Muse works in enigmatic ways and seems able to override the limits of consciousness people bring to it's mysterious service.
Another tangential segue: The ancient's of Byblos saw the mysterious cone as the sacred emblem of Astarte and her cult of Temple prostitutes. The image of a cone overflowing with two flavors of ice cream can be understood accordingly from the perspective of those myths.
Hit return to 1967: In the era of "peace & love" the East Coast musicians discovered a fierce competitiveness on the road of "big time" Rock & Roll. Vince Martell recalled in his interview with Aaron Butler: "The thing I remember about all the groups, we were there to blow 'em off the stage - and vice versa. You didn't socialize or make friends too much, because of the competition we all felt. Especially being from New York and they're from the West Coast and we're thinking they feel the same thing - they're looking to put us down in a performance. You be as nice as you can but you try and keep to your own business because you're going to hit that stage soon... Today it would be a different story, but back then you had to go on and go over heavier than them, no matter what you had to do - go crazy." On their forthcoming The Beat Goes On LP, Tim Bogert, would comment on the people he'd met in the music business. He sighed: "Disheartening. and a lot of other words I can't say..."
The release of their debut album, Vanilla Fudge,only accelerated the touring pace for the band. On the 2nd of September they were back in New York's Village Theater opening for Mitch Ryder. Returning to San Francisco, the band opened for Blue Cheer on Sept 21st and 23rd at the Fillmore West. Only a week later, the Fudge headlined for three shows produced by Family Dog at the Avalon Ballroom where the Charles Lloyd Quintet opened for them on Sept. 29th - Oct. 1st. In NYC on the 3rd of November Vanilla Fudge headlined at the Village Theater with the UK's own Yardbirds being the opening act. The Fudge had rapidly achieved headliner status and now began to "compete" on a global level with the biggest West Coast and European bands of the day.
1997-2001 by OBW.
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