Listening to classic Vanilla Fudge is like swimming in quicksand as everything is in slow motion. I’m old enough to remember their birth back in the late 1960s. Their heavy and slowed down versions of such songs as “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” “Shotgun,” and “Season Of The Witch” were unique at the time as they bridged the gap between the California psychedelic movement and the burgeoning heavy rock sound.
Bassist Tim Bogert retired in 2008, but original members Mark Stein (vocals and keyboards), Vince Martell (lead and rhythm guitar), and Carmine Appice (drums) have reunited to release Spirit Of ’67. They are joined by bassist Pete Bremy, who played with Appice in the early 1970s heavy rock band Cactus and has toured with the Fudge since 2008.
The band had their breakthrough in 1967 and toured with the likes of Cream, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix. They revisit that year by recording 10 songs that were hits 48 years ago. They were always primarily a cover band, who took other peoples songs and twisted them all out of shape to fit their own odd vision of the musical world.
Keyboard driven tracks such as “Whiter Shade Of Pale” and “The Letter” are a trip back in time. Vinny Martel’s guitar feedback laden “Gimme Some Lovin” is a creative take on the old Spencer Davis Group tune.
The lightweight “I’m A Believer” is a stretch for the band’s approach and the soul classic “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” is better left alone. They are on more solid ground when they take solid rock songs such as “I Can See For Miles,” “Ruby Tuesday,” and “Break On Through (To The Other Side)” and modernize them in their own unique way.
The only original track is Stein’s “Let’s Pray For Peace.” It may be a little out of place within the context of the album but as a stand-alone song it would have fit “the summer of love” nicely.
Spirit of ’67 revisits a bygone era and the height of Vanilla Fudge’s popularity. They may not break any new ground but they cover the old very well.