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Articles Home » 1984 Articles » Vanilla Fudge - 1984 Mystery
Vanilla Fudge - 1984 Mystery


ARTIST: Vanilla Fudge
ALBUM: Mystery
SERIAL: 90149-1
YEAR: 1984
CD REISSUE: 2006, Wounded Bird Records, WOU 9149


LINEUP: Mark Stein - vocals, keyboards * Ron Mancuso - guitar * Tim Bogert- bass * Carmine Appice - drums * J Toad (Jeff Beck)- guitar solos (2,7) * Vince Martell - rhythm guitar

TRACK LISTING: 01 Golden Age Dreams * 02 Jealousy * 03 Mystery * 04 Under Suspicion * 05 It Gets Stronger * 06 Walk On By * 07 My World Is Empty Without You * 08 Don't Stop Now * 09 Hot Blood * 10 The Stranger

WEBLINKS: Official Website | FB Page

Known for their groundbreaking succession of mostly covers albums in the late 60's, Vanilla Fudge had long been cited as a massive influence on the heavy metal scene of the 80's, when they reformed in 1982 in support of a Greatest Hits collection. Of course the band was known mostly for its progressive and psychedelic undertones, none of which were evident when this comeback album rolled around. Instead AOR was the name of the game, with anyone hoping for a repeat of 'Renaissance' or 'Rock And Roll' left sorely disappointed. The original lineup returned, although Vince Martell played a minor role on rhythm guitar, with Ron Mancuso on lead. Fans were left wondering what happened, the melodic rock pouring forth bearing little resemblance to the past.

The Songs
Despite the stylistic concessions to the sound of the era, this is a decent shot at the commercial AOR market. 'Golden Age Dreams' is so close to Rainbow's 'Street Of Dreams' sound it isn't funny, Mark Stein sounding like Joe Lynn Turner in the chorus. Jeff Beck (under the moniker J Toad) contributes a solo to the synth heavy 'Jealousy', a classy slice of AOR in anyone's book. The title track is too restrained, but contains some textbook vocal harmonies to spice things up. Things heat up with 'Under Suspicion' undercover lover form of AOR, this one throwing in all kinds of dramatic musical interludes. 'It Gets Stronger' is weaker, dragging on a minute or two too long, with the guitar work the only highlight. A cover of the old pop standard 'Walk On By' is another highlight, given such an AOR makeover it's almost a new track. 'Don't Stop Now' has a Survivor tint to it, the riffs and melody recalling the legends, but this is several notches short of anything from Survivor's prime years. The chorus of 'Hot Blood' is raucous, making up for an otherwise dull workout, which as the song title suggests has some Foreigner elements in the music. 'The Stranger' has an epic feel to it, the keyboards and guitars both competing for attention. It builds nicely and could even have been an unused Giuffria track.

In Summary
Not a bad effort at all, but one that was treated like the plague by fans and critics. Taken for what it is, it's a credible shot at the AOR market. After all who wasn't trying it in 1984? The band disappeared for a few years after this albums release, but have been off and on again at various stages, with the band still on the road, missing only Bogert from the original version.

Vanilla Fudge - 1984 Golden Age Dreams

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#1 | gdazegod on February 01 2018 22:41:15
Good call Alun. I actually really like this album. Should be easy enough to find on Streaming Services. The one on Deezer is the 2006 Wounded Bird reissue. And I agree on 'Walk On By'. So cool to hear a completely different take on a 60's classic.
#2 | Eric on February 04 2018 14:11:11
Fudge excelled at cover tunes, their 1967 debut was nothing but other songwriters work and was excellent. I have the early albums which are all psych classics but this one did very little for me unlike similar 80's reunions from The Buckinghams ('A Matter of Time'Wink, The Grass Roots and others.
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