Bremy: Hello Shadow...
good. How about you?
got to say this is a real pleasure to get to talk to you. I've been
a very big fan of Vanilla Fudge for over 30 years and I'm certainly
not ignorant of the things you've done too over the years. So this is
a real honor. Now of course, because this is for the Fudge Web site,
we're going to be talking mainly about your years with the Fudge...
Producer of the first 3 albums, tell me about your role with Vanilla Fudge...
It's hard to
define what my role was back then... [Pause] The "Producer"
is a title given... but I guess - uh. I wasn't as much of a producer
as you're supposed to be. But I wasn't as little as a producer
than... Uh, That doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense. I guess by
the guidelines of what a producer does, I guess I did sixty or
seventy percent of what a producer had to do. By what a producer's
not supposed to do I did 100 percent.
you elaborate on that and tell me what you did do?
Well, what most
people consider a producer... They associate it the same way they do
with Broadway shows or the movies. They assume that the producer's
the person who gets the backers and financiers and presents the
project to this one and that one - and that's not the case in music.
Although sometimes, yes, and to some degree, yes.
Basically if I had
to describe a [music industry] producer, I'd say "Think of a
director in a movie". That's a producer of music. And I think
even on one of the Fudge albums I changed [my] title from Producer to
Director trying to let the public and other people understand that
when they saw the name Bob Crew or Phil Spector or Phil Ramone, the
public had a tendency to go, "Oh, you're the producer, the money
man". And that's not the case - never was.
[Note: On The
Beat Goes On and the Renaissance albums Shadow was
credited "Produced and Directed by Shadow Morton for Phantom Productions"].
We are in a sense
a director. That's what I think I did more with the Fudge than
probably any other artist... was play director because we were off in
a... it was wonderful... It was a speed trip in a haze! I mean we did
not know where stop signs were coming - left turns - right turns - no
idea. We were traveling down Main Street America in a 747. It was
just awesome! And there was a lot of fear. Not fear, but like, what
the f... are we doing? [Laughing heartily]
But anyhow, that's
my definition of a producer. He's more like a director.
He searches a lot
- he nudges. He makes recommendations. He suggests. He demands. He
cries. He threatens. He pleads. He does whatever he has to to get
where he thinks the end has to be.
...Whatever I was
back in the sixties to the boys I would probably be less verbal and
less active [these days]. At least for a first album. I feel they
need somebody. And the reason I feel that is because... the buck has
to stop someplace. There has to be someone in that room when all 4
boys are either hollering at one another or applauding one another -
it doesn't matter.
Someone from the
outside has to say "that's right" or "that's
wrong". This is the way we're going. Whether some guy throws his
hands up in the air and curses you: "What the f... do you know?
I play this instrument..." - "That's the way it is!"
Someone really has to come down and say "no - yes - yes - no.".
In other words, a "babysitter"?
A babysitter and
the man who when the buck gets passed, you know, I mean you sit in
the room when Carmine says "I want a 22 bar solo on the drums to
drop into the middle of the song" and Mark's going to say "No".
Now rather than
them two fighting - two heads have to turn to somebody. What do you think?
One of the two of
them is going to be disappointed and curse you. And the other one's
going to say "See I told you so".
at least maybe they can blame you and they don't fight with each other.
Let me tell you something, when something goes wrong with a session,
the producer's always blamed. When something goes right with a
session, everybody pats each other on the back. Very simple.
interesting. But it makes sense. It definitely makes sense.
...And when a
decision has to be made, somebody outside the group has to make that
decision. And somebody has to be there to make demands on the people
when they're slacking, when they're not happy with something.
Somebody has to get to their heart because that's what music is about.
at least with your relationship to the Fudge, you view yourself more
as the director or the conductor rather than a person totally in control?
Yeah. See a lot of
times a producer's got to go in a room and note for note, or bar by
bar - you have to pull from people. You have to pull from them. You
have to start "shaking" them their lines. Which I've done
on say most of my sessions...
But with the Fudge
there was such enormous talent there was no... Once they started in
this direction and understood the feel - and I speak now of the
things that were not conceived by them directly, and they fell into
the mold - the loop of it - there was no stopping them. It was just
awesome! It was awesome! I mean they were like four separate
symphonies making one...
And I could hold
my breath through their entire song without exhaling. And other
people like engineers who would not blink through an entire take
because it was just awesome to watch.
Timmy Bogert! I
tell you what, Timmy Bogert refers to himself as a "bass
player". And so does everybody else. And I find that a little
disheartening. I mean, Timmy doesn't play a bass, Timmy is a bass. A
bass is Timmy. They are one! I mean he treated that instrument like
it was a Stradivarius. He did one... delicate... he would barely be
touching a note so delicately like he was caressing a baby's face and
the next thing you know, within four or five seconds, he was at a
street brawl at Brooklyn. Nah, he's extraordinary!
were the circumstances surrounding your first encounter with the
Fudge... Do you remember?
Yes, and uh,
[Laughs] like with all things life, I'm sure that my memory suits my
fantasy. I'm not sure that anybody else remembers it the way I
remember it, but I know what I recall... What I have left to recall.
I'm going to keep
it this way regardless of whether someone can prove different or not.
Uh, the inspiration for getting me to see the Pigeons [e.g. the early
name of the Vanilla Fudge] was Shelly Finkle, who was the... I guess
manager, doorman, or all-around guy for Phil Basile at the Action
House. And Shelly had for a long time told me about this group, the
Pigeons, and I had already heard about them.. He kicked my ass about
that group, whether the group knows it or not. It was not Phil Basile
that got me to go see that group.
And the encounter
that I recall, it was at the Action House. On that day, it was a very
hot day, but Shelly had arranged for a limo and a bottle of Baccardi,
and that was enough for me to get a look!
And I went out to
the Action House and I saw the Pigeons. A very hot day. Despite that
I was wearing a Salvation Army cape... and I saw them perform and
rehearse at the Action House. That was the first encounter that I recall.
was it love at first sight?
I would say at
first that it was more than first sight. But to my best recollection,
which I don't think anybody else recalls, when I first heard the
boys, I never really got into hearing stuff that they would attempt
to record, at least not in my ears. What I heard was probably the
greatest group on stage but all of the material that they were doing,
that I was listening to, was basically "club material". It
was Twist and Shout. It was...
It was Twist
and Shout. It was, uh, like Mickey's Monkey. You know, it
was like for a club. And at the time - I don't remember. I think Mark
says they were already into You Keep Me Hanging On and others,
but I don't recall it that way. I think they were starting to fool
around with things like that.
What I recall -
and I don't care what anybody says, I'm keeping this for the movie
[Laughs]. What I recall was that I had told Shelly Finkle at the
door: "Shelly, this is undoubtedly the greatest group I've ever
heard. Unfortunately, I don't hear them doing anything that's new.
The girl in Des Moines don't give two shits that they're doing Mickey's
Monkey better than the original. Nobody cares. They don't know
the difference. They don't know that's a great bass player - she
what turned you around to keep you interested?
Well, the way I
recall it, I'm sure nobody else recalls it.
But I was standing
there talking to Shelly Finkle and I heard something, and I made
Shelly be quiet because he kept talking at me to do this group. And
when I walked back inside, I was looking up at the stage at Mark...
and he kept looking down at me.
And so finally -
he's sitting at the keyboards and kept looking down . So finally he
says: "What?". He didn't know me. And I said, "What
are you doing?" And he said, "Right now I'm rehearsing a
song so uh... I'm studying this song so I can teach it to the
group." And I said to him "Do you always learn your songs
by playing a 45 record at 33?" - he said, "Yeah, why? "
- and I said, "No reason" - and I walked away and I said
to Shelly Finkle: "That's the group!"
That song was You
Keep Me Hanging On. And they were the only group who could have
taken that and made something of it. And they did. It was just awesome...
Next time you get
a chance - don't say anything to anybody - get your hands on a 45
copy of Diana Ross singing You Keep Me Hanging On and slow it
down to 33 and a third.
Does it sound like Mark?
Uh, uh... Not as
good as Mark!
Copyright © 1998 by Peter
The Vanilla Fudge Web Site
Compilation is Copyright © 1999 by Vanilla Fudge.