Iron Butterfly - In A Gadda Da Vida

Iron Butterfly – In A Gadda Da Vida

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When we recall late 60’s hard rock in nostalgic terms, the discussion would be incomplete if didn’t mention Iron Butterfly and that one classic memorable song.

Written by: Eric

ARTIST: Iron Butterfly
ALBUM: In A Gadda Da Vida
LABEL: Atlantic
SERIAL: SD-33250
YEAR: 1968
CD REISSUE: 1990, Atco, 33250-2
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

LINEUP: Erik Brann – lead & backing vocals, guitar * Doug Ingle – organ, lead vocals * Lee Dorman – bass, backing vocals * Ron Bushy – drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Most Anything You Want * 02 Flowers And Beads * 03 My Mirage * 04 Termination * 05 Are You Happy * 06 In A Gadda Da Vida

WEBLINKS: Official Site

Background

Color me surprised when I recently discovered this album has sold a whopping 30 million copies. Really? Of course I was only in the first grade when ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ was released in 1968. I was immersed in the groovy Day-Glo pop that sound-tracked the ‘Batman’ TV show rather than the heavy and ‘out there’ sounds of Iron Butterfly which frankly would have scared the wits out of my incredibly sheltered, suburban, white bread sensibilities.

Thankfully more the wiser, I finally caught up years later and it’s still astounding how innovative and influential the band were on both the progressive and hard rock scenes that were just beginning to grow wings despite critical disdain and apathy.

The Songs

While the Butterfly’s debut ‘Heavy’ was a downer psychedelic classic, ‘In-A Gadda Da-Vida’ has a less oppressive, kaleidoscopic sound. Doug Ingle’s Farsifa organ still dominates the band’s material but the songwriting has clearly improved while borrowing without shame from their contemporaries and this is never more obvious than on opener ‘Most Anything You Want’ which tips its hat to The Doors groundbreaking ‘Light My Fire’.

The whimsical ‘Flowers And Beads’ is sweet candy-coated goodness that really hasn’t received the attention it deserves among pop psych devotees while ‘My Mirage’ has an attractive Jefferson Airplane vibe. On the downside ‘Termination’ and ‘Are You Happy’ are average songs that could have placed on any early Steppenwolf album. All of which brings us to the infamous title track.

Other than Deep Purple‘s ‘Smoke On The Water’ or Cream‘s ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’, I can’t think of a more memorable opening riff from the era than the first chords of ‘In- A-Gadda- Da -Vida’.

Clocking in at a mind-numbing 17 minutes, the song took over the entire second side of the LP and there have been plenty of stories and rumors on how the song, originally titled ‘In The Garden Of Eden’ came about. Most of them have to do with Ingle being either drunk, stoned or both, but it seems no one can recall accurately. There’s an old quote: ‘if you remember the 1960’s you really weren’t there’ which is probably appropriate here.

In Summary

Over their career some of the biggest names in rock music toured as an opening act for Iron Butterfly including Led Zeppelin, Yes and Journey.

But unlike those band’s and this album, Iron Butterfly struggled to chart and sell significantly beyond their cult following. Perhaps the acid-drenched monster that was ‘In-A-Gadda-Da -Vida’ could never be overcome or bettered.


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