Every once in awhile an old friend can disappoint you. Such is the case with the latest DVD release by Vanilla Fudge, When Two Worlds Collide.
Vanilla Fudge released a number of creative albums from 1967-1970. Guitarist Vince Martel, keyboardist and vocalist Mark Stein, bassist Tim Bogert, and drummer Carmine Appice would take hits of the day and slow them way down and I really mean way down. Their sound was heavy, dramatic, bombastic, over the top, and dirge like in places. It was also commercially successful as their albums sold very well. Their music was a cross between psychedelic and heavy rock. They were active during my college years and consistently found a place on my turn table.
The group broke up in 1970. Bogert and Appice went on to found the heavy rock group Cactus and they played with Jeff Beck for a short spell. They have reunited Vanilla Fudge several times over the years, sometimes with Stein and Martell and sometimes without. The original group members toured together in 2005. For the purpose of this release Bill Pascali is the keyboardist and main vocalist while Teddy Rondinelli is the guitarist. Both have played with Bogert and Appice in the past.
So what’s wrong with this release? First they try to do too much. They have an orchestra to support their sound and while their music has always had a classical type of under pinning, it just doesn’t work. It moves their music away from the overblown sound which made them unique and appealing. They would have been better off with just the basic four instruments that served them so well in the past. Secondly, they are playing live but there is no audience to be seen. There is no reaction to their performances and thus there is a definite lack of excitement which is transferred to the viewer. There is also a CD version of this album and maybe it works better without the visuals.
They do present all of their classic material and Bogert and Appice still are a formidable rhythm section. “People Get Ready,” “Shotgun,” “Season Of The Witch,” “Take Me For A Little While,” and their top ten single hit “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” are all brought into the 21st century for better or worse.
The most interesting track is the old Zombies tune, “She’s Not There,” which is graced by a stellar bass solo and lead vocal by Tim Bogert. On the other hand Carmine Appice co-wrote Rod Stewart’s number one hit “Do You Think I’m Sexy” but it is a song they should have avoided.
When Two Worlds Collide comes across as a sterile affair as the old magic is missing. If you want to hear Vanilla Fudge at its creative best, find a copy of any of their first three albums, Vanilla Fudge, Renaissance, or The Beat Goes On, and put on your head phones and enjoy.