With their version of The Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hanging On” quickly climbing the charts, producer George “Shadow” Morton landed The Pigeons a deal with Atlantic Records. The band then changed their name to Vanilla Fudge and hit Mediasound Studios to record the album that took Carmine Appice’s life in a new direction.
“We basically went in and did a demo,” Appice explains, “which was ’You Keep Me Hanging On.’ We just went in and did exactly what we did live. We had a sound check and then it was, ’You ready? Take one.’ and we did it.”
“The fad at the time was to take songs, slow them down and make them into production numbers. In our case, we wanted to take it a step further, and we slowed down songs that were saying something emotionally that wasn’t being relayed in the original version. The Supremes’ version is really fast and very happy, almost, and in essence we took the song apart and put it together with a whole different musical feel. We tried to set the stage musically for whatever the lyrics were saying and that’s how we approached the album. For example, ’Eleanor Rigby’ has a graveyard kind of vibe and ’People Get Ready’ is like a gospel thing.”
The fact that “You Keep Me Hanging On” was a one-take demo separated it from the rest of the album’s material. “’Hanging On’ is in mono, but the rest of the album is in 8-track stereo. Bass and drums are spread out over three tracks, organ and guitar are on four and five, and it left us three tracks for vocals. We were playing these songs live for months, so all they did was put our stage show on our record. There are no overdubs other than vocals. Mark Stein sang lead, but I sang ’People Get Ready.’
The album took only about a month to record, but the work done in that short period of time certainly was a life-changing experience. “Had I not made the album, I would’ve had a different kind of career, I guess. I could’ve been teaching or having a drum shop, a studio. It could’ve been a career playing weddings. It made my whole life.”