Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Vanilla Fudge - Spirit Of '67, album review

Iconic Illusions

Iconic year; iconic band. Formed in 66, Vanilla Fudge as a band has credible first-hand experience of that time, and their experimentation as well as heavy psychedelia makes them key exponents of its musical influence ever since. This album pays homage to songs released in 1967, and in many respects the covers are quite conventional, their delivery relying on signature power rather than interpretation.  A gaggle of voices murmur ‘I heard it…’ at the beginning of the first track, with an additional mock-announcement about the premise of the record [not really necessary guys: we may all be older but not totally I-just-about-remember-the-sixties-senile, yet], and it is a soul start with Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through The Grapevine. It is then heavy rock, organ-driven romps through that memorable ‘67 playlist: Box Tops The Letter, The Who I Can See For Miles, The Doors Break On Through, Smokey Robinson The Tracks Of My Tears, The Monkees I’m A Believer, Spencer Davis Group Gimme Some Lovin’, Buffalo Springfield For What It’s Worth, Rolling Stones Ruby Tuesday, Procol Harum Whiter Shade of Pale, and finishing on Mark Stein’s Let’s Pray For Peace.

I’d say this is more fun than phenomenal. There is a layer of rock pomp at times, and it is probably the thread of pop music that lessens any overall sense of pulsing power – not that I don’t like those pinches of The Monkees as well as other more balladic rock numbers. The danger is it is more a weekend at Butlins nostalgia than a truly meaningful contribution to the history of music. Perhaps it is that closer which prompts my reservations: I am all for celebrating the energy, hope and faroutness of the late 60s, but imagining that any kind of praying here in the 21st century can be as original and optimistic is harking back to at least two proven illusions. 

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