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Iron Butterfly - Light And Heavy: The Best Of Iron Butterfly CD (album) cover

LIGHT AND HEAVY: THE BEST OF IRON BUTTERFLY

Iron Butterfly

 

Proto-Prog

3.57 | 8 ratings

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Trotsky
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Despite releasing one of the best-selling albums of the 60s in In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida and following it up with another chart hit in Ball, Iron Butterfly's legacy is that of an unfulfilled band. The problem was that having made a great artistic and commercial breakthrough, the band just sat back and slowly imploded, instead of progressing. Aside from personnel problems, part of the problem was that the band's music impetus lay in two different directions. Sure it was all draped in psychedelia, but while these fellows had distinct progressive leanings, Iron Butterfly also had a pop/soul element that has given a lot of their music a dated and cheesy feel (some lame lyrics and Doug Ingle's crooner vocals don't help either!).

This compilation does a fair job of distilling the highlights of the group's first four studio albums (Heavy, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Ball and Metamporhosis) with one totally unforgivable and downright scandalous exception ... the seminal timepiece that is the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida track is included in truncated form ... and by that I mean the pedestrian 3 minute single version instead of the 17 minute album version! Good knows there's enough filler towards the tail end of this compilation that could have been left off to accomodate the proper version of Iron Butterfly's best track.

That faux-pas alone fatally undermines the legitimacy of this compilation, which is otherwise reasonably well chosen, but not many tracks will be of interest to prog fans. A standout from Heavy is the excellent instrumental Iron Butterfly Theme, on which the crucial relationship between Doug Ingle's Gothic organ and the competing fiery acid guitar of Danny Weiss is best established ... interestlingly when Weiss left the band after recording the first album, his replacement Erik Brann bought his guitar and equipment in order to maintain Iron Butterly's sound!

The efferversent organ heavy My Mirage, the urgent "horror movie" curiousity Real Fright and the dreamy rambling Belda Beast are also attention-grabbers. Unfortunately, not every other prog-friendly track from the covered time period (amazingly, it's just 1968 to 1970!) makes it here. The propulsive Are You Happy is omitted, as is Slower Than Guns, but of course nothing compares to the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida fiasco!

Aside from the band's more daring proto-progressive work, there are also some good "straight" rock songs in the form of You Can't Win, Possession, Termination and the super funky Stone Believer. However, it is clear from the generally weak material that concludes this compile that Iron Butterfly were running out of ideas fast ... which seems extradordinary given what they accomplished. In 1970 when most musicians were striking out as progressive artistes, Iron Butterfly appear to have tried to move back to the mainstream (certainly the songs off Metamorphosis are generally tamer than) and why they did so after such success as a cutting edge band is beyond me! ... 50% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 3/5 |

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