Vanilla Fudge

Live: The Best of Vanilla Fudge

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The 1967 debut album by New York quartet Vanilla Fudge may not have remained in the pantheon of all-time greatest '60s rock albums, but it's of huge historical importance. With its unprecedented combination of psychedelia (itself still a new commodity), hard rock, soul, and classical motifs, it prefigured everything from heavy metal to prog rock. The band's modus operandi was to take pop, rock, and R&B hits of the era and extend them to the breaking point, adding raga-like guitar lines, overdriven Hammond organ, screaming feedback, gargantuan distorted riffs, mountainous drumbeats, and impassioned vocals. Most often the original tempo of the song was slowed down drastically for maximum dramatic effect. In this manner, everything from Motown hit "You Keep Me Hangin' On" to the Zombies' "She's Not There" becomes a haunting, pathos-filled set piece alternately haunting and driving. Somewhere in England, the young men who would become known as Yes, Deep Purple, and numerous other bands, were listening with rapt attention.

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