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HEAVY

Iron Butterfly

Proto-Prog


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enigmatic15@h
4 stars Oh man, I'm so happy Iron Butterfly is now included on the PA. They are the epitome of proto-prog as far as I'm concerned! I haven't listened to the album in a bit so this review won't be as proper as I would like it to be, but I simply couldn't wait! How to describe Iron Butterfly. Well there's a definite semi-classical feel with Doug Ingle's keyboard work and Jerry Penrod's bass synthesis. The thing that makes Iron Butterfly so great is that there are 3 semi-virtuosos in the band whose musical lines interweave in a way that had surpassed any band previously to them in my opinion. There is a definite 60s pop feel to this, but mostly this is straight up late-60s psychadelia proto-prog. Posession and unconcious power are both great tunes and Penrod's bass work is simply stunning. Then they switch it up with some blues in Get out of my life woman. The bluesy guitar riffs with multiple overdubs prove why Danny Weis is the poor man's Jimmy Page. Part of what makes Iron Butterfly so great are his liquid smooth Les Paul solos. If you aren't convinced that Iron Butterfly belong on this site, i dare you to listen to the Iron Butterfly theme at the end of the album. I would put this album up there in the top proggy moments of 1968 for sure.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#71911)
Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

This quintet is hailing from the LA psychedelic scene and is more of a local band than most of the groups hanging out in LA is hope of exposure. The LA scene at the time also had The Doors, Love, Spirit and a few others, and it was a major scene so much that most of the San Francisco scene came down to record their albums in the city (interestingly enough, SF did not have recording studios in the 60's) and if the LA Sunset strip did not catch public imagination like the Haight Ashbury scene, the psychedelic rock was just as vivid as can be attested by the groups mentioned above. Interestingly enough also, LA was also a very strong Garage rock scene (check out the NUGGETS box-set in our Various Artists section for this), and as those groups became more adventurous and heavier, they also became psychedelic. In this regard, one can actually make a link between Garage rock and proto- progressive rock, and Iron Butterfly is one of those bands that help this transformation.

This quintet had ambitions high enough to make popular pop music change into rock as we know it today. Deliberately choosing an intriguing and heavy name, they chose Iron Butterfly and to make their point come across more clearly, they named their debit album Heavy. By today's standards though, this might make most young progheads laugh or at least smirk. Actually, this reviewer never really found IB particularly heavy, but if you were not old enough to remember when those albums came out (as I was), they received plenty of praise for their groundbreaking and heavy approach. This debut album was quite an impressive one, and its striking artwork sure helped out the imagination of the listeners back then, and had quite an impact nationally as it stayed on the Billboard for 50 weeks a fact rendered even greater that the album contained no obvious hit , but was a very even collection of good songs. The first two tracks appeared also in a movie (Savage Green). Lead by keyboard man Doug Ingle, the music is a pure psych sound that one can assimilate to a cross of HP Lovecraft or early Jefferson Airplane, but with a definite slice of garage rock (all songs are rather short) and a slight Soul touch also.

Opener Possession is one of those signature track (it does remind of HP Lovecraft's sound, though) with instantly recognizable Ingle-played organ. Follow-up Unconscious Power is a lot more upbeat and has a good bass line. Both tracks were part of the movie mentioned above. The next few tracks on the first vinyl side are very much in the crossroad ogf garage rock and would nicely fit on that Nuggets compilation: sometimes sounding like The Seeds, The Electric Prunes, Chocolate Watch Band, Thirteenth Floor Elevators etc..

The second side is off to a soulish (almost Doo-wop vocal) start, but a much better Looking For The Sun (must be hard, through the LA smog ;-) but apparently a successful one, since the next track is Fields Of Sun. Stamped Ideas is for me the highlight of this album side with its fuzz guitar and Ingle great organs. Most of the tracks on the album are on a 4/4 basis and stay relatively simple, but particularly enjoyable is the closing IB Theme. As the album opens on two great track and closes on another two, it is a bit unfortunate that the middle of it, is not up to those. The two bonus tracks on the Repertoire re-issue are a bit different sounding of the rest of the album, but there is nothing shocking.

With the release of the album, apparently there were heavy dissentions in the musical directions and three members left leaving Ingle and drummer Bushy (both mainstays and the only non-LA natives) at the helm. Not clearly of an interest to recent progheads, this album is of an historical significance for most of rock music. But hardly essential to progheads, though

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#73520)
Posted Thursday, March 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars 'Heavy' stays true to it's name, though not necessarily by today's standards. Iron Butterfly's debut album is a textbook example of bluesy, heavy psychedelia. Memorable cuts include "Unconscious Power", "You Can't Win", "Fields Of Sun" and "Iron Butterfly Theme". And the rest aren't bad either, ranging from the light and pop-oriented to the moody and trippy.

Great album, yet severely overlooked. Highly recommended for fans of 60's psychedelia.

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Send comments to Jimsey (BETA) | Report this review (#133703)
Posted Sunday, August 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars HEAVY... BUT NOT HARD

Good album this "Heavy". This is the debut of a great band: Iron Butterfly. In my opinion this album is good but non great. This because the song is aged not good (but not bad). In every case "Unconscious Power", "You Can't Win", "Fields of sun" or "Iron Butterfly Theme" are great Proto Heavy Prog and in my opinion for 1968 are totally Prog songs. "Heavy" is heavy from the title to the sound, like a caterpillar! But the cover of Allan Toussant "Get Of My Life, Woman" or "Gentle As It May Seem" are very melodic songs. Unfortunately Iron Butterfly aren't European band and so the music remains too American. But if this is a defect...

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Send comments to Lady In Black (BETA) | Report this review (#137594)
Posted Monday, September 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I think this is one of those albums where you had to have been there at the time of the release to really enjoy it today. Listening to this today as a new listener I think itīs really dated and not that good. I know Iron Butterfly is a very famous band, but with this debut release Iīm not quite sure why. There were so many other good albums released in 1968 that I donīt understand why I should bother listening any more to this one.

The music is basically blues rock with what sounds like a very wasted singer and lots of organ. Some times there are some heavy sounding guitars, but donīt expect Black Sabbath heavy. Songs like Possesion, Unconscious Power and Iron Butterfly Theme are pretty good songs, but songs like the repetitive Get Out of My Life, Woman and Stamped Ideas drag this album down IMO.

The sound is muddy sixties quality and not very impressive.

This is a 2 star album for me and I donīt think itīs very progressive. Maybe for the time this was really heavy stuff, but the quality in the compositions are not good enough to satisfy my modern ears.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#160167)
Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This debut album was very well received in the US: it peaked in the Bilboard at the respectable 78th spot. Although it is awfully short, even for the era (less than thirty minutes), it holds some fine music, but the whole is not consistent.

The album opens brilliantly on Possession which is a moving song thanks to its vocals and great and hypnotic keyboards; this will be a constancy throughout the album.

The heavy / bluesy mood displayed in this album is not far from the Fudge (Get Out Of My Life, Woman). But what is available is mostly some heavy psychedelia which is very much Doors oriented like the upbeat Gentle As It May Seem or the melancholic and psyche You Can't Win. The good Look For The Sun is another one of these. The hypnotic keyboards really sound like Manzarek ones.

There is even a light track featured: So-Lo which is a soft-rock and candid piece of music. Childish vocals and syrupy backings aren't quite convincing. But let's remind that this work is forty years old. I am reviewing this album shortly after the debut one from Family; and the same conclusion is valid for Heavy: it is rather difficult to imagine the impact of such a work today.

The start of Iron Butterfly Theme is almost a rip off from Backdoor Man, but it is a fine proposal with heavy organ and weird sounds. Rather disjointed and loaded.

The sound is very old but IB should be considered as a pioneer of heavy music and therefore be respected as such. Fans of heavy blues, psychedelic rock like The Doors or the early Jefferson Airplane, this album might suit you.

Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#187372)
Posted Wednesday, October 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars In this first incarnation of the band, I can almost feel the internal tensions that must have been building between bandmembers as there's some variations of style concerning the tracklist and vocalist Darryl DeLoach sings on only half of the tracks but doesn't contribute instrumentally. This sort of disparate set of ideals can lead to almost humerous results, with songs about searching within yourself to achieve inner peace followed by "COME HERE WOMAN!" rants that crush any sort of meditative experience. It also makes listening to the album entertaining as well, since I was never sure how the next song would play out the first time I heard it.

Heavy is bookended by its best tracks. Possession has a good riff, a catchy chorus and spooked out vocals by Doug Ingle. Doug was clearly the superior vocalist, and it would be no surprise that Darryl would soon leave the group. It's as if the band saw fellow psychedelic rockers The Strawberry Alarm Clock's situation, in which a guest vocalist sang Incense and Peppermints with a baritone delivery, helping that song become their biggest hit by far while their regular singer, whose voice was typical of the West Coast "Nuggets" variety (much like Darryl) had to watch from the sidelines with his eventual string of much lesser and somewhat forgotten hits. The final track, the band's apparent instrumental theme song, is an awesome representation of late 60s acid/space rock with a great distorted fuzzbox guitar tone. Some quirky toying around with a delay pedal is thrown in here and there to assist in the 'freakout'. It's fun, and definately worthy of the album's title. Speaking of the guitar tones and effects, Danny Weis was quite a capable and talented performer throughout this album, and could have have been a much bigger name in the business if he could've stuck it out with Iron Butterfly rather than joining the ill-fated Rhinoceros.

The tracks in-between are varied in style and quality, with tunes sung mainly by Doug being preferable to me. You Can't Win has some catchy melodies drenched in that acid guitar sound, and Fields Of Sun has a cool guitar riff accompanied by some sweet bass playing. Some of the other tracks don't fare nearly as well such as Gentle As It May Seem's sub- garage level workout or Look For The Sun's failed attempt at emulating early CCR musically. Of course, with song lengths being reasonably short, sitting through the muck to get to the better tracks is not such a chore.

As far as being loud or even proto-metal, this album does have that cool fuzzy guitar tone in quite a few of its tracks, but don't expect anything particularly heavy except for the last track, but Heavy is a pretty cool time capsule of the late 60s, even if their next album would make them quite famous and sell literally tons of copies. In fat, I kinda enjoy Heavy more than In A Gadda Da Vida to be honest.

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Send comments to Prog Sothoth (BETA) | Report this review (#433622)
Posted Thursday, April 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars A collection of pleasant songs.

"Heavy" is a nice little album - short (clocking less than 30 mins), catchy, and an easy listen. The band's rather tight too. I find myself listening to this album quite often, though I do find it a little inferior to their other early albums. I think I find myself listening to "Heavy" frequently because of it's general consistency in mood. Though I generally love music that has a large emotional palette, this album is great when you are in the mood for something a little more light hearted. The key tracks here are "Unconscious Power" and "Iron Butterfly Theme".

Though the album may not seem heavy in comparison to the music of today, "Heavy" was putting a heavier spin on the music of the times, an ambitious move of their part, and one that was widely admired at the time. With today's standards it is easy to dismiss this album as just another cheesy 60s pop album, but we must remember that at the time of it's release "Heavy" had a whole different context.

3.5 stars.

Peace!

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Send comments to The Mystical (BETA) | Report this review (#910942)
Posted Thursday, February 07, 2013 | Review Permalink

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