If the Iron Butterfly hadn't produced "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" they would have been the Vanilla Fudge. Also, for good or ill, Iron Butterfly wrote their own songs while Vanilla Fudge was predominately a "heavy" covers band. But Vanilla Fudge's covers sounded nothing like the originals. They tried to simulate what it was like to hear music on drugs. Taking the Supremes' bouncy pop song "You Keep Me Hangin' On," they slowed it to a dirge with Hard Rock thrashing led by guitarist Vince Martell and organist/vocalist Mark Stein's passable Blues wailing. The first time was interesting (their debut LP went gold). The 27th time, not so.
"Near The Beginning," arriving in '69, combined both live ("The Break Song") and studio recordings ("Shotgun").
Like most groups, Vanilla Fudge fractured with bassist Tim Bogart and drummer Carmine Appice starting Cactus before hooking up with Jeff Beck, yes the world famous, totally awesome Jeff Beck, for the dreadful Beck, Bogart and Appice.
1967 Vanilla Fudge
1968 The Beat Goes On
1969 Near The Beginning
1969 Rock & Roll
2002 The Return
2007 Out Through The In Door
Vanilla Fudge's gimmick - sorry, innovation, was playing well-known pop songs at a plodding tempos and brutally attacking them with screaming guitars and overblown organ. By doing so, they earned themselves at least a mention in the Heavy Metal annals. Recorded in '69, a year after the Iron Butterfly's lengthy - 17 minute epic - "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," "From The Beginning" stands as the Fudge's strongest original album.
The Butterfly influence is obvious. "The Break Song," recorded live, is a mostly instrumental jam that allows each member a solo and clocks in at 23 minutes. Mind-numbingly groovy man. The album also contains a thunderous version of Junior Walker's "Shotgun" and a heavy rendition of the Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood chestnut "Some Velvet Morning." Where did they find that one?
"Shotgun" and "Some Velvet Morning," along with signature tune "You Keep Me Hanging On," appear on "Psychedelic Sundae: The Best of the Vanilla Fudge." Among the covers of Donovan and The Beatles, there are some less than stellar originals.