Vanilla Fudge is getting hot again and they will prove it Sunday when they co-bill with Felix Cavaliere's Rascals at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury. The band began its career in 1967 and is now reviving it with a new album called "Spirit of '67" featuring cover songs from that year.
"This was the music that was happening around us," says drummer Carmine Appice, who along with vocalist-keyboardist Mark Stein and guitarist Vinny Martell is an original member. (Bassist Tim Bogert retired and was replaced by Pete Bremy.) "We went through a list of the top 100 songs of 1967 and picked the ones we wanted."
The Fudge takes on the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'," The Doors' "Break on Through (To the Other Side)," The Who's "I Can See for Miles" and The Monkees' "I'm a Believer" (penned by Neil Diamond) among others. Each song is retooled, giving it the Vanilla Fudge treatment.
"We like to experiment," says Appice. "We thought 'I'm a Believer' would make a cool rock song. Instead of a poppy teen thing, we went heavier and sang it with some more emotion. For 'Break on Through' we added an Egyptian-Mideastern kind of vibe and then turned 'Gimme Some Lovin' ' into a shuffle."
Doing unique covers has become Vanilla Fudge's specialty, as they did with their 1967 cover hit, "You Keep Me Hangin' On," originally performed by The Supremes. Appice says it's something that began in the clubs on Long Island when they played with the Rascals, the Rich Kids, the Vagrants featuring Leslie West, and Billy Joel's old band the Hassles.
"They were called production numbers. The covers were slowed down and made to be more dramatic. The key was to match lyrics with moods and drama of the song," says Appice, who lived in Long Beach, Oceanside and Cold Spring Harbor from 1967 to 1976. "Most people cover a song exactly like the original but we don't see the reason in doing that."
When the band hits Westbury, it will be a familiar return.
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"Long Island is like home," Appice says. "When we walk on the stage, people stand up. They give us such respect."