Friday, September 23, 2016

Iron Butterfly - 1970 - Metamorphosis

Iron Butterfly 
1970 
Metamorphosis




01. Free Flight (0:50)
02. New Day (3:20)
03. Shady Lady (3:57)
04. Best Years Of Our Life (4:00)
05. Slower Than Guns (3:50)
06. Stone Believer (4:25)
07. Soldier In Our Town (3:22)
08. Easy Rider (Let The Wind Pay The Way) (3:07)
09. Butterfly Bleu (13:58)

- Larry 'Rhino' Rheinhart / guitars
- Mike Pinera / guitars
- Ron Bushy / drums, vocals
- Lee Dorman / bass, vocals
- Doug Ingle / keyboards, vocals




IB's fourth studio album is somewhat of a return to form after their disastrous ball album, but by then guitarist Erik Brann had left to form another goup with other ex- IB members. He was replaced by two guitarist Mike Pinera and Larry Reinhardt, thus return the Butterfly to a quintet again. The fact of adding two guitarist will not alter their sound too much, though. If the album was well received critcally and artistically much better also, it sold quite poorly causing the IB to fold its wings. Compared to Ball, the album is much more rock-sounding (with a touch of blues) and in itself is this is vast improvement and there is a more political/rebellious anti-war sense in some of their tracks. After a small intro that is to raise our hopes for a more adventurous album, New Day and Shady Lady are still your distinctly IB numbers with some soul influences but this time sounding a bit like fellow LA band Steppenwolf. Worthy of note, four track's lyrics were written by a certain Edmondson from that particular group. And this might be the problem, actually, IB sound completely empty of inspiration at least in songwriting dept. There are still a lot of tracks with a definte Motown influences, such as the less than good Stone Believer or the poignant Soldier In Their Town. The second last track Easy Rider is again a wide call to the wolf from the steppe with its screeching guitars. Not completely absent from their earlier albums, there is a good dose of Blues influence on this album as can be heard in the lengthy 14-min finale Butterfly Bleu, which will be a likely exit for the group and the highlight of the album with its psyched-out middle section.
As I wrote above IB will break up around mid-71, but will reconvene for a further two albums in 75 and 76, but both Scorching Beauty and Sun And Steel will not make much an imact on the public for one evident reason: IB had said everything in their first two albums. I, myself only heard once or twice those albums in the 70's and they certainly left me no lasting impression. IB has again reformed in the 80's and later in the 90's. Up until now, the group still tours the club scene around the globe, much to the joy of nostalgic fans. But if IB was ever of interest to progheads, it was because of their embryonic days were they were certainly among the head of the pack of groundbreaking groups that helped Pop metamorphose into ROCK.
by Sean Trane


The quietly intense "Soldier In Our Town" (on Metamorphosis), addresses the hypocrisy of war heroism with the lines: 'There's a statue in the square / But the things they're hiding, it ain't fair / ...'Cause beneath the stone / The greatest man is all alone' - a potent shift from the image of the monument to the gravestone. With its soul wrenching vocal (Ingle's best ever performance) and a rare use of earthy acoustic guitar, Iron Butterfly delivers one of the most heart-felt antiwar statements of the early '70's.

In the 1993 liner notes to the Rhino compilation Light and Heavy, Ingle said the composition concerns 'war in general and our culture's inbred thought that people have to fight. And it's about the few elite at the top that control the masses.' This particular recording (essentially an Ingle solo session) exemplifies the internal dissension that befell Iron Butterfly after scoring their mega-success.

Erik Brann, stressed out from the endless touring, departed the year prior. In an 1988 interview with the Los Angeles Times, he recalled the grueling tours with Iron Butterfly, saying 'My first vacation I bought a car, a Jaguar, and parked it outside the hospital where I spent two weeks for ulcers and gastroenteritis.' It required two guitarists to fill his shoes. These new members (Mike Pinera, of "Ride Captain Ride" fame, and Larry 'Rhino' Reinhardt) quickly asserted themselves and, refusing to follow Ingle in search of a mellow (yet idiosyncratic) muse for the band, shifted the sound towards mainstream rock (along with bassist Lee Dorman, they refused to perform on "Soldier In Our Town").

After another tour, Ingle quit the band. Presaging this development, the LP cover for what would be the last (authentic) Iron Butterfly album, Metamorphosis (1970), prominently displays a coffin on a barren mountaintop (who, save Donovan, could have kept the Butterfly alive?).
by Barry Stoller

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