HardReviews 6
by Martin Popoff

Vanilla Fudge - Then And Now
(Fuel 2000)

A legitimately enough reformed Vanilla Fudge is out there, recording, touring, even hooking up with Robert Plant in a club when o'er in Europe recently (and they've got the pictures to prove it - see www.thelizardswebsite.com; I'm sure they're at www.vanillafudge.com somewhere as well, but I can't find 'em). The original Vanilla fudge was revered by both a fledgling Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple - in fact, their slamming Hammond-drenched sound was instrumental in Deep Purple coming up with In Rock, which of course, was a crucial album in the invention of metal. On Then And Now, the band re-record their classics and man, is it convincing. Everybody sings and the singing is lush, huge, way beyond inspiring into hallowed Glenn Hughes and David Byron terrain. As well, the original premise is maintained by massive drum and organ sounds, from Carmine Appice and Bill Pascali respectively, caught in skull-frying hi-fidelity, the two summarily beating you up by album's end. Now, guess what, there are covers of two huge 'N Sync and Backstreet Boys songs on here and that move is brilliant. Vanilla Fudge simply kill on these, draping like smothering heavy dark velvet drapes all of their proggy rhythmic magic on 'em, paralleling how they made it big in the late '60s, through covers of the big pop hits at that time. Don't get put off by the awful cover art, or the (self-admitted) shameless ploy of the records raison d'etre - this is a new but still classic Fudge, and outside of that context, just an enjoyable bombastic classic rock album for the sheer verve and volume of it. Still, you can't get too crazy about a rating on this kind of thing, as I reserve the high end of the scale for albums of high originality and creativity. Then And Now is more about interpretation.
Rating 7