By: Kevin Yazell | The CitiView
In my opinion, no band should ever consider doing cover versions of previous hit songs unless they’re going to do something unique and memorable with them and ensure the listener can escape the memory engrained by the original version. This is the craft that Vanilla Fudge has perfected better than anyone else!
In a short span of a couple of years Vanilla Fudge perfected an epic and thunderous sound and laid the foundation for the further development of Heavy Metal! Their embellished and expanded versions of late 60’s pop hits were and still are a breath of fresh air!
Vanilla Fudge celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 2017 and show no signs of slowing down. The band was scorching hot at The Iridium last week and firing on all cylinders. Driven by the still incredible drumming of Carmine Appice, perfectly played organ parts and vocals by Mark Stein and held into place solidly by bass player Pete Bremy (replacing original member Tim Bogert) and guitars of Vince Martell, it was incredibly refreshing to hear these thunderous sounds at high volumes in such a small venue.
The Iridium show was a confirmation of their importance to the early days of heavy metal and the influence they held in the late 60’s. The set list was full of psychedelic soul and blues inspired rock and roll.
The band started with the Zombies hit, “She’s Not There” continued with a rendition of the Doors’ “Break On Through” and then the Curtis Mayfield classic, “People Get Ready”, all in unique Vanilla Fudge style!
Mark Stein then took a turn on vocal on their original song “Pray For Peace” from their 2015 album Spirit of ’67.
As a confirmation to their influence over the heavy metal bands that followed them, Carmine Appice reminded us that Led Zeppelin had been their opening act in 1968. An extended version of the Zep classic “Dazed & Confused” then ensued and it held all of the mystery and excitement of the original.
To be true to the musical era we were celebrating the show included an incredible drum solo by Carmine Appice. Back in the day many drum solos became self indulgent bores but this was definitely not the case at The Iridum. Appice was able to showcase his amazing talent keeping the entire audience engaged and hoping for more! The man obviously loves what he does!
The final two songs, Jr. Walker’s “Shotgun” and their biggest hit, a cover of the Supreme’s Motown classic, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” were also the ones they had performed on the Ed Sullivan show and both brought the house down.
The Vanilla Fudge version of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” is arguably one of the greatest covers of all time and the performance at The iridium did not disappoint! Even the bricks were shaking!
In today’s market of watered down and over sensitive attempts at terrible pop songs, it was reaffirming to the sold out crowd at The Iridium that solid (and heavy) rock and roll still exists and reminded us to never forget!