Vanilla Fudge—confusing for some, rock for others…

Vanilla Fudge—confusing for some, rock for others…

By Molly Fleming, Staff Writer

Vanilla Fudge may sound like a dessert served at a church raffle, but there is nothing remotely similar to that image in this band. Performing at the On The Waterfront Oldies Oasis this past weekend, this nostalgic, psychedelic rock band that began in the late ’60s will revive memories for some, and confuse members of the newer generation.

Although not everyone may have heard of Vanilla Fudge, the band has been around a long, long time and influenced many modern groups of the rock genre. Alice Cooper, who also performed at On The Waterfront Miller Lite Great Lawn Stage, Sept. 1, actually opened for Vanilla Fudge back in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, as did Led Zeppelin. The famous band Styx (On The Waterfront Miller Lite Great Lawn stage, August 30) cites Vanilla Fudge as being a major influence on their music.

Carmine Appice, drummer/songwriter for the group, actually cowrote Rod Stewart’s disco classic “Do Ya’ Think I’m Sexy?” and performs it occasionally in “the Vanilla Fudge style.” As a past member of the Rod Stewart band, Appice’s influences have little to do with disco genre, and more with the hard-rock-never-got-over-the-breakup-of-Led-Zeppelin sound.

Those who remember Vanilla Fudge from their classic feature LP “Season of the Witch,” in 1967 should be following the group’s new sound, well, not so much new as modified. Recently the band covered an ’N Sync tune “Tearing Up my Heart” , as well as The Back Street Boys’ “I Want It That Way,” to keep close to their roots of the “bubble gum pop sound,” as Appice said. The group feels that there is a lot of importance in pop and bubble gum music, because the lyrics are easy to relate to for everyone and take up deep issues regarding love and heartbreak.

For those who haven’t heard…

Vanilla Fudge sound like a mix up of Styx, Iron Butterfly, America (with really heavy organ) and Black Sabbath. The band’s image, however, is that of three aging rock stars from the ’70s who think sequins and sunglasses at night denote formal wear.

They really aren’t that bad, though. Originally this review was going to describe them as the “ultimate worst band EVER,” but there is some nostalgic sweetness about Vanilla Fudge’s sound. Their songs sound exactly like the late ’60s and ’70s never ended. They were, after all, the first band to hit it big with the loud organ/electric guitar sound, which was more popularized by Black Sabbath.

One aspect that warrants purchasing a copy of their new CD is their versions of other bands’ songs. Not that these covers are better than the originals by any stretch of the imagination, but hearing the Backstreet Boys and ’N Sync songs sounding like

“Smoke on the Water,” is worth a lot—for

some at least. Skip over track 10 altogether, though, because any band other than The Beatles doing “Eleanor Rigby” is a sin.

So why would a hard-rock psychedelic group dare want to cover other famous people’s songs? Well, Appice thinks the band has more to offer in covering songs than writing them. Adding “Vanilla Fudge dimensions” to The Zombies, The Beatles and certain boy bands is an interesting concept, but more Vanilla Fudge originals would probably have put the band on the map. As it is, no one really remembers a cover band.

Although this is not a band for all listeners (especially the younger generation), some Rockfordians seemed to enjoy the group at On The Waterfront, those mostly between ages 38-48. The people in their ’40s danced because they heard something slightly familiar, and those in their ’30s danced because they came with the 45 year olds. These people did seem as if they were having a good, hard rockin’ time, but got a little confused when they heard the ’N’Sync song. The younger people slowly dispersed as the set wore on, leaving to go check out Blues Traveler, Angelique Kidjo and Local H.

Overall, Vanilla Fudge put on a good performance for their style of music. They are good at what they do, but are limited only by the 1969 power organ pop genre. So, a good idea for fans of Foghat and Deep Purple is to buy Vanilla Fudge’s latest album, The Return, when it is released in late September. It will include their version of The Star Spangled Banner for “rock patriots.”

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