Friday, September 23, 2016

Iron Butterfly - 1968 - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

Iron Butterfly

01. Most Anything You Want (3:44)
02. Flowers And Beads (3:09)
03. My Mirage (4:55)
04. Termination (2:53)
05. Are You Happy? (4:29)
06. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (17:05)

- Doug Ingle / vocals, keyboards
- Erik Brann / guitar
- Lee Dorman / bass
- Ron Bushy / drums

Iron Butterfly are a fluke in the music world. Their sound is one thing and another all at once. Basically, they're psychedelic, with creepy classical Vox organ by Doug Ingle, Middle Eastern influenced guitar by Erik Brann, a nd tribal drums by Ron Bushy. But there's also a hard edge to it, which explains why the album has been cited as a big influence on heavy metal.

Their winding instrumental breaks also inspired Black Sabbath and the like as well. There's also a slight pop feel, close to bubblegum on "Flowers And Beads," sort of a hippie take on those classic '60s Dion/Righteous Brothers sort of thing. Mainly, it's all mystique and trippy soundscapes.  Sound quality is pretty good. Except for "Termination," the songs were written by vocalist/organist Doug Ingle.

For this album, he crafted love songs, and dreamy tales of exploration. "Mirage," a tribute to a friend just passed, is one of the best. "Termination," inspired by Greek myths, is by far the most colorful, though. All in all, not bad.  In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida was Iron Butterfly's second album. Vocalist/organist Doug Ingle and drummer Ron Buhsy are joined by newcomers Lee Dorman and guitarist Erik Brann, the latter adding great depth to their sound. "Most Anything You Want" is a great fun opener, "Termination" is a psychedelic classic, and "Mirage" is just dreamy.

But as we all know, the best song is the title track, that great 17-minute finale with wild solos and all kinds of metal-prophesying arrangements. It made them famous and remains one of the best moments of the late 1960s. This is Iron Butterfly's most important album, and includes their most important song. It's a gas.
by Avram Fawcett

 Most everyone remembers of IB, through this album and its side-long title track. No doubt you have read (or will read) the other reviews, so I will not push too much the analysis of the tracks, but state a few facts: the album stayed three years in the Billboard chart and almost two in the top ten. It has the first lengthy drum solo to be recorded on a studio album and unfortunately it will create a precedent all too often imitated. By now, Ingle and Bushy are the only members from the original line-up, but Ingle was to take on lead vocals, and Lee Dorman will take up bass and Erik Brann will play guitar.
The first side consists of short tracks that follow suit of their debut album, but the garage rock intonations are much less present, but I still hear some Motown influences in most tracks as well as some classical overtones. Most Anything You Want is really dominated by Ingle's organs , but one should be aware that we are not talking of the lush Hammond organ sound or even the relative equivalent Farsifa, but rather the Vox Continental (so popular with garage bands - cannot deny their influences on IB) and it might sound like a very cheap sound and resembles The Door's Ray Manzarek sound. Flowers And Beads is a rather insipid love songs aiming at hippies, but much more interesting is My Mirage with a much slower pace and a very psychey feel (reminding a bit of the Door's debut album). Termination is another cool track that sounds like it would come out of a Doors album (Waiting For The Sun for example) but it is interesting if all too short. Are you Happy is one of those tracks that shows that IB were also relatively good at their instrument and clearly indicates what is coming up next. Maybe a little too much?

Clearly the album spotlight is the 17 min In The Garden Of Eden, which is a great track if it was not plagued by lengthy solos but in this regard, I must say that they fare much better than Vanillla Fuge does in its side-long track on Near The Beginning or Love on their Da Capo album. Especially noteworthy for its lengthy drum solo, the tracks is not boring as the solos stays structured enough and do not lose focus either as do the other two examples I just gave you.

At the time, this album was groundbreaking (and therefore historically significant), today as with most of IB's albums, one can say it is a bit out-dated, but nothing to be ashamed of. However it always evaded me as why this album was so successful, and why people remember it so fondly almost 40 years after it came out (outside its obvious Doors influences on side 1): it sounds quite dated today and not really progressive - and this is coming from someone eternally stuck between 65 and 75 ;-) Nuff said!!
by Sean Trane

One of the greatest albums of the late 60s psychedelic rock explosion, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida was also among the most successful, shifting millions of copies (8 million is the last figure I read) by the end of the 60s. The influence of this album is undeniable, although having a distinctly "uncool" main man like organist Doug Ingle (as opposed to say Jim Morrison or John Lennon) has ensured that Iron Butterfly is treated with derision by a fair number of critics.
While there are five relative short songs of varying quality, this album is made or broken by the 17 minute long title track. Largely based on a single menacing blues riff, this excellent piece nonetheless contains an Eastern style "fanfare", a massive Erik Brann wah-wah drenched guitar freak-out, delicious Gothic organ (with hints of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen thrown in for good measure), an excellent drum solo by Ron Bushy and a percussion extragavanza that draws on African rhythms ... all done with some exciting use of dynamics and numerous shifts of mood. While it can be dismissed as a psych jam, I still find myself astounded by some of the playing, and it shocks me that the whole thing was done in a single take.

As for the shorter songs, one or two will seem pretty fluffy and dated, but I take delight in My Mirage (which races along thanks to some excellent keyboard work from Ingle ... guaranteed to excite fans of the Doors), Termination (another timeless slab of creative psychedelic rock, with a lovely dream outro) and the urgent stomper Are You Happy which some superb free-form psych. Ingle's unfortunate habit of populating his songs with lyrics about "holding hands and walking lands with groovy girls wearing flowers and beads" means that some of the material may just make you cringe, but I still think this album is far more alive and creative than a lot of the sterile prog that's produced today. My CD has a bonus track that is a live version of the title track, and while it's not as an exciting as the studio original, it does show that Iron Butterfly was a band with impressive chops.

Unfortunately, as with contemporaries Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly made its best music in the process of opening doors, but once those doors were open, the band itself was unable to make it through. While bassist Lee Dorman and latter day guitarist Larry "Rhino" Rheinhardt would re-surface in the progressive outfit Captain Beyond, it's fair to say that Iron Butterfly was unable to follow through on the promise and innovation that's shown quite frequently on this thrilling proto-prog record. If you're looking for pure classic progressive rock, this record isn't essential, but as with Marillion of the 80s and The Mars Volta of this decade, Iron Butterfly was making some of the most progressive music of its time. ...

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