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Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida CD (album) cover

IN-A-GADDA-DA-VIDA

Iron Butterfly

 

Proto-Prog

3.38 | 181 ratings

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Trotsky
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 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. ... 70% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |

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