Best Album Covers: Vanilla Fudge
This is the next entry in Best Album Covers, a series begun right here. The first successful long-playing microgroove record for the phonograph was introduced by Columbia Records back in June of 1948. Yet, album covers (the paper board packaging that held them) didn’t come into their own graphically till decades later. Eventually becoming the cultural stamp on the music of the time. Catching the eyes of potential record-buyers and later their ears and minds. Melding the musical experience with the artist into a unique visual form.
Why Compact Disc versions of album art don’t exactly raise the same reaction these days was looked at in this post. Although, music label artistry continues to be noticed and discussed among the material published today. The bits and bytes are looking over their shoulder, though, because vinyl hasn’t entirely gone the way of the dinosaur. Online or at the record shops still out there. Cover art hasn’t lost purpose, either for old and new. Mostly, it’s my contention while digital reigns supreme, its vigor among fans lacks the tactile passion of the past LPs.
Hence the reason for this series. Some register more with me musically than others, though. Yet, the artwork will always take center stage, at least here. Let’s continue, shall we?
Once again, the revolutionary, and in the latter stages mind-bending, ’60s brewed up something familiar and yet “out there.” In the form of a Long Island, New York1 “white soul” band following in the path of The Rascals, yet headed in another direction, musically. Their first album made that clear, as noted by Steve Huey in his AllMusic review:
“Vanilla Fudge was one of the few American links between psychedelia and what soon became heavy metal. While the band did record original material, they were best-known for their loud, heavy, slowed-down arrangements of contemporary pop songs, blowing them up to epic proportions and bathing them in a trippy, distorted haze.”
Outside of their biggest hit, the totally unexpected cover to The Supremes’ classic, You Keep Me Hangin’ On, can’t say I had initially much involvement with Vanilla Fudge growing up. Only later learning of them when Led Zeppelin impacted teens here in the States, and through underground FM citing their influence. Hell, likely Ed Sullivan didn’t realize what he witnessed when they played the song on his show2, either.
Still, wouldn’t be “Psychedelic Rock” without some, for the graphic design of the time, mind-expanding cover art. Comparatively, the visual images on the three-paneled, self-titled Vanilla Fudge sleeve seems staid, though colorful. Yet, for 1967, with snapshots gracing most albums in this genre3, the design of Haig Adishian and photography by Bruce Laurance stood out. Doing what producers wanted: be eye-catching.
Would learn later in my college dark room course the photo solarization4 of the two main images put them on strangely vibrant display. Sneakily, hiding the prominent nude female figure in plain sight with polychromatic technique, and causing less ruckus for the period by its distraction. Moreover, vividly telegraphing the buyer peering the song covers listed on the back, what had come before about to be turned inside out.
Artist: Vanilla Fudge
Title: Vanilla Fudge
Label: ATCO Records
- “Ticket to Ride”
- “People Get Ready”
- “She’s Not There”
- “Bang Bang”
- “Illusions of My Childhood, Pt. 1”
- “You Keep Me Hanging On”
- “Illusions of My Childhood, Pt. 2”
- “Take Me for a Little While”
- “Illusions of My Childhood, Pt. 3”
- “Eleanor Rigby”
The entire series can be found here.
- “Vanilla Fudge was managed by the reputed Lucchese crime family member Phillip Basile, who operated several popular clubs in New York. Their first three albums (Vanilla Fudge, The Beat Goes On, and Renaissance) were produced by Shadow Morton, whom the band met through The Rascals. When Led Zeppelin first toured the United States in early 1969, they opened for Vanilla Fudge on some shows.” ~ Wikipedia ↩
- As noted earlier in October by Gary on his 2 or 3 lines (and so much more) blog post. ↩
- Although, the move away from band member photos was well underway, see The Thirteenth Floor Elevators cover as an example. ↩
- “Print solarization occurs when a photographic print is partially developed, then exposed to white light before the print is completely developed. The effect is a reversal of all or some tones – i.e. some of the image appears to be positive while other portions of it appear to be negative. (Note: Some darkroom technicians obtain the effect by first completely developing the print, then exposing it to white light before immersing it in stop bath.) Black and white and color films and papers that are based on silver halide emulsions can also be solarized.” ~ PhotographyTips.com ↩
One Response to “Best Album Covers: Vanilla Fudge”
Terrific story – I agree that album covers were, at one time, mini-works of art!
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