When we recall late 60’s hard rock in nostalgic terms, the discussion would be incomplete if we didn’t mention Iron Butterfly and that one classic memorable song.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: Iron Butterfly
ALBUM: In A Gadda Da Vida
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
Iron Butterfly 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. This in preference to the heavy and ‘out there’ sounds of Iron Butterfly. Quite frankly it wouldve scared the wits out of my incredibly sheltered, suburban, white bread sensibilities.
Thankfully now more the wiser and older, I finally caught up years later. It’s still astounding how innovative and influential the band were at this stage. This is on both the progressive and hard rock scenes that were just beginning to grow wings despite critical disdain and apathy.
While Iron 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. However the songwriting has clearly improved while borrowing without shame from their contemporaries.
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.
‘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.
I can’t think of a more memorable opening riff from the era than the first chords of ‘In- A-Gadda- Da -Vida’. Other than Deep Purple‘s ‘Smoke On The Water’ or Cream‘s ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’.
Clocking in at a mind-numbing 17 minutes, the song took over the entire second side of the LP. 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.
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.