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IRON BUTTERFLY

Proto-Prog • United States


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Iron Butterfly biography
Doug Ingle (Vocals, Organ) formed the first incarnation of 'Iron Butterfly' in 1966 in San Diego with drummer Ron Bushy. After the group moved to Los Angeles and played the club scene, it secured a recording contract and got national exposure through tours with 'the Doors' and 'Jefferson Airplane'.

Following the release of their 1968 debut album, "Heavy", original members Jerry Penrod (bass), Darryl DeLoach (vocals), and Danny Weis (guitar) left the band and were replaced by guitarist Erik Brann and bassist Lee Dorman. Weis went on to join 'Rhinoceros'. Later that year, the new line-up recorded "In A Gadda Da Vida", a masterpiece of heavy, psychedelic acid rock, which sold four million copies, spent over a year in the Top Ten, and was the first album to receive platinum certification after the RIAA instituted the award. (The title has been translated as "in the garden of Eden" or "in the garden of life.") A shortened version of the title track, which contained extended instrumental passages with classical/Eastern-influenced organ, plus a two-and-a-half-minute drum solo, reached number 30 on the singles charts. The follow-up, "Ball", showed greater musical variety and went gold, followed by two more album releases in 1970 - "Live", and "Metamorphosis".

Erik Braunn left the group and was replaced by guitarists Mike Pinera and Larry 'Rhino' Reinhardt, but the group's success was largely over. Iron Butterfly broke up in 1971; Braunn and Bushy re-formed the group in the mid-'70s.

Thanx to Progman for research!



Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Alongside the likes of DEEP PURPLE, LED ZEPPELIN and
VANILA FUDGE, Iron Butterfly pioneered Hard/Heavy Rock
and combined ProtoProg and Psychedelia.



Discography:
1968. Heavy (Studio Album)
1968. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (Studio Album)
1969. Ball (Studio Album)
1969. Live (Live)
1970. Evolution (Compilation)
1970. Metamorphosis (Studio Album)
1974. Scorching Beauty (Studio Album)
1975. Sun and Steel (Studio Album)
1984. Rare Flight (Compilation)
1993. Light & Heavy (Compilation)

Iron Butterfly official website

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IRON BUTTERFLY Videos (YouTube and more)


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In-A-Gadda-Da-VidaIn-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Atlantic 1990
Audio CD$1.81
$0.01 (used)
Live In Sweden 1971Live In Sweden 1971
Cleopatra 2014
Audio CD$9.19
$5.86 (used)
Live in Copenhagen 1971Live in Copenhagen 1971
Cleopatra 2014
Audio CD$13.99
Live At The Galaxy 1967Live At The Galaxy 1967
Cleopatra 2014
Audio CD$9.08
$11.80 (used)
MetamorphosisMetamorphosis
Remastered
Rhino 1993
Audio CD$5.94
$4.99 (used)
Best of Iron Butterfly EvolutionBest of Iron Butterfly Evolution
Rhino Flashback 2012
Audio CD$1.88
$1.88 (used)
Scorching Beauty/Sun & SteelScorching Beauty/Sun & Steel
Import
Beat Goes On 2008
Audio CD$11.07
$23.14 (used)
HeavyHeavy
Elektra / Wea 1993
Audio CD$6.62
$6.08 (used)
Fillmore East 1968Fillmore East 1968
Import
Rhino Handmade 2012
Audio CD$29.99
$39.99 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
IRON BUTTERFLY Easy Rider (Let The Wind Pay..)/Soldier In Our Town 45 Atco 6782 US $4.99 Buy It Now 39m 53s
IRON BUTTERFLY ( BALL ) ORIG Atco yellow label U.S. PSYCH ROCK 1969 LP VG+ US $15.95 Buy It Now 1h 26m
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IRON BUTTERFLY: Live LP ATCO RECORDS SD33318 US 1970 VG++ US $10.99 Buy It Now 3h 42m
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IRON BUTTERFLY: Scorching Beauty LP (w/ company inner sleeve, cut corner, sl cw US $15.00 Buy It Now 4h 32m
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IRON BUTTERFLY Metamorphosis JAPAN LTD MINI LP SHM-CD SEALED US $16.99 Buy It Now 8h 59m
Iron Butterfly - Ball LP Atco SD 33-280 1969 Psychedelic Rock - Excellent Vinyl US $6.99 Buy It Now 9h 58m
Rock the Night (Box) Iron Butterfly, Santana, Jimi Hendrix, N CD US $5.68 Buy It Now 10h 39m
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IRON BUTTERFLY-IN A GADDA DA VIDA-6 TRACK CD-1968-AUSTRALIA US $9.79 Buy It Now 11h 30m
Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida LP ATCO SD 33-250 US $5.00 [0 bids]
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The Best of Iron Butterfly Evolution, Atco Stereo US $1.99 [0 bids]
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Iron Butterfly In a Gadda Da Vida Original Atco 1968 Press, CLEAN, EXCELLENT US $20.80 Buy It Now 13h 55m
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IRON BUTTERFLY In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida 1968 VINYL LP ATCO SD 33-250 US $2.00 Buy It Now 18h 16m
Iron Butterfly: Soul Exoerience / In the Crowds [Unplayed Copy] US $6.97 Buy It Now 18h 54m
IRON BUTTERFLY METAMORPHOSIS atlantic 70 A1B1 Lp US $23.65 Buy It Now 18h 57m
The Best of Iron Butterfly Evolution vinyl LP Atlantic ATCO SD33-369 Import US $11.99 Buy It Now 18h 59m
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IRON BUTTERFLY: Silly Sally 2:10-Stone Believer 3:10-France 7" Atco 103 204 PSL US $48.98 Buy It Now 20h 46m
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ORIGINAL US LP ACID ARCHIVES Psych HARD ROCK Pinera THEE IMAGE 75 IRON BUTTERFLY US $24.99 [0 bids]
21h 36m
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22h 4m
Iron Butterfly Live Vinyl Record US $19.95 Buy It Now 22h 9m
IRON BUTTERFLY ~Heavy ~VG+ US $2.50 [0 bids]
22h 16m
THE BEST OF IRON BUTTERFLY EVOLUTION LP RECORD US $4.00 Buy It Now 22h 20m
Iron Butterfly "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" & "Heavy" 3 3/4 Reel-Reel Tapes US $64.99 [0 bids]
22h 31m
IRON BUTTERFLY BALL 1969 ATCO 33-280 VG/VG US $4.99 [0 bids]
23h 5m
IRON BUTTERFLY: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida/Iron Butterfly Theme US $10.00 Buy It Now 23h 8m
Iron Butterfly - Metamorphosis RARE ISRAELI LP HEBREW US $24.99 Buy It Now 23h 23m
1969 RHINOCEROS "Satin Chickens" LP- Factory Sealed cut corner {Iron Butterfly} US $12.75 [0 bids]
23h 26m
IRON BUTTERFLY-EVOLUTION: THE BEST OF THE IRON BUTTE... VINYL LP NEW US $29.52 Buy It Now 23h 45m
IRON BUTTERFLY In-a-gadda-da-vida 1968 Vinyl LP ATLANTIC ATL40022 Germany US $50.69 Buy It Now 23h 53m
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Live at the Galaxy 1967 [5/27] by Iron Butterfly (CD, May-2014, Cleopatra) US $11.90 Buy It Now 1 day
IRON BUTTERFLY "BALL" RARE 1969 VINTAGE STEREO RECORD ALBUM ATCO SD 33-280 US $20.00 [0 bids]
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IRON BUTTERFLY "METAMORPHOSIS" 1970 VINTAGE STEREO RECORD ALBUM ATCO SD 33-339 US $20.00 [0 bids]
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IRON BUTTERFLY Interview LP PROMO ONLY US $49.99 Buy It Now 1 day
IRON BUTTERFLY In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida 1969 Release Atco SD 33-250 Stereo VG to VG+ US $1.98 [0 bids]
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IRON BUTTERFLY: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (Atlantic, Japan.OBI, insert, 1968) US $50.00 Buy It Now 1 day
IRON BUTTERFLY LP "IN-A-GADDA-DA-VIDA" 1968 ORIG. STEREO ATCO ~ Sealed SD33250 US $19.95 [0 bids]
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Iron Butterfly Ball ATCO SD 33-280 Original 1969 Rock Record Gatefold Jacket US $24.99 [0 bids]
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Iron Butterfly Live at the Galaxy 1967 CD US $11.98 [0 bids]
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Best of Iron Butterfly Evolution ORIG 1ST PRESS WHITE PROMO Vinyl LP IS NM- READ US $16.95 [0 bids]
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Iron Butterfly In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida Vinyl LP Record Album Vintage 1968 US $10.75 Buy It Now 1 day
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IRON BUTTERFLY IN THE TIME OF OUR LIVES PROMOTIONAL 45 RPM PHONO RECORD VINTAGE US $99.99 [0 bids]
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IRON BUTTERFLY~Soul Experience bw In The Crowds ATCO 6647 1968 OCS EX US $2.95 Buy It Now 1 day
Scorching Beauty/Sun and Steel * by Iron Butterfly (CD, Feb-2010, Beat Goes On) US $12.09 Buy It Now 1 day
Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vidda ATCO SD 33-250 Stereo US $5.00 [0 bids]
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CREAM-BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD-BEE GEES-IRON BUTTERFLY-VANILLA FUDGE WLP PROMO LP US $10.99 [0 bids]
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Iron Butterfly LP In a Gadda da Vida atco records 1968 SD 33-250 US $9.00 [0 bids]
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Rock IMPORT 6 LOT Record LP ZZ Top Mountain Iron Butterfly Jefferson Starship VG US $23.00 Buy It Now 1 day
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IRON BUTTERFLY shows & tickets


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IRON BUTTERFLY discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

IRON BUTTERFLY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.24 | 53 ratings
Heavy
1968
3.38 | 177 ratings
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
1968
2.95 | 33 ratings
Ball
1969
3.28 | 47 ratings
Metamorphosis
1970
2.40 | 20 ratings
Scorching Beauty
1975
3.22 | 18 ratings
Sun and Steel
1976

IRON BUTTERFLY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.08 | 18 ratings
Live
1970
5.00 | 3 ratings
Fillmore East 1968
2011
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live At The Galaxy 1967
2014

IRON BUTTERFLY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.00 | 3 ratings
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
1995
4.50 | 2 ratings
Rock 'N' Roll Greats - Iron Butterfly: In Concert!
2004
5.00 | 2 ratings
Concert and Documentary - Europe 1997
2008

IRON BUTTERFLY Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.33 | 3 ratings
Evolution: The Best of Iron Butterfly
1970
3.00 | 4 ratings
Rare Flight
1984
3.57 | 8 ratings
Light And Heavy: The Best Of Iron Butterfly
1993

IRON BUTTERFLY Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Don't Look Down On Me / Possession
1967
4.00 | 1 ratings
Possession / Evil Temptation
1967
4.00 | 3 ratings
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
1968
4.00 | 1 ratings
Unconscious Power
1968
2.05 | 2 ratings
Silly Sally
1971

IRON BUTTERFLY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Silly Sally by IRON BUTTERFLY album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1971
2.05 | 2 ratings

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Silly Sally
Iron Butterfly Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

2 stars A now very rare single and also a single which I never knew anything about it until yesterday I visited youtube and I found it and I could listen to both sides of it.

The other information I could find in the web about it is that it was the last single that the band released before they split in 1971, and the "A" side was even recorded without Doug Ingle who left the band. But he appears in the "B" side, which is a song taken from their 1970 album titled "Metamorphosis (with Pinera and Rhino)".

So, the "A" side, "Silly Sally" (composed by Pinera and other songwriter who was not in the band), was recorded as a quartet by Ron Bushy, Lee Dorman. Mike Pinera and Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt and without keyboards. It also includes a horns section plus backing singers. It was sung by Pinera very well and it sounds like a Rhythm and Blues song influenced by James Brown and Wilson Pickett . The lead vocals by Pinera sound to me a bit similar to John Fogerty`s vocals too, from the band "Creedence Clearwater Revival". The song really does not sound as the typical song I could expect from Iron Butterfly. I don`t know why it was released, but it seems that it only was released in this single and was totally forgotten because as long as I know it was not a Hit anywhere. Maybe it was recorded as a "contract filler" with the record label or as a last attempt from the band to "re-start" as a band without Ingle. The song is not bad but it does not sound like a song from Iron Butterfly , and it really sounds very typical from the late sixties / early seventies, and a bit dated too.

The side "B" , "Stone Believer", has Doug Ingle very present on lead vocals (shared with Pinera) and keyboards, and while it also sounds like a not very typical song from this band, Ingle`s presence make it somewhat more recognizable as a song from Iron Butterlfy. Until now I still have not yet listened to the "Metamorphoisis" album as a whole, but it seems to me that Erik Brann`s departure and replacement by two guitarists (Pinera and Rhino) made the band change their sound a lot. But the change in sound was even more drastic when Ingle left the band.

Anyway, two good songs for my taste, and maybe this single is now very hard to find. For Iron Butterfly`s more dedicated fans and collectors.

The band was going to reform many times since 1974, and with a lot of different line-ups until 2102, when Lee Dorman died. He was one of the most present members of this band in their line-ups in all their more than 40 years of existence as a band, But they released their last album (without Dorman and Ingle but with Bushy and Brann) in 1975, becoming later more a touring band than anything else.

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 In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by IRON BUTTERFLY album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.38 | 177 ratings

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In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Iron Butterfly Proto-Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Flowers and Beads

1968 was a pretty tasty year on the coast and an early peak for Iron Butterfly, an acid-rock band with a pleasantly cheesy streak. This was an album I truly did discover by rifling through my older siblings LPs and deciding I needed to "borrow" this strange titled disc. Even back in the 70s I recognized that the band felt dated and as I got older it seemed everyone liked to ridicule this album despite professing some level of affinity for it. I join with a minority of my fellow reviewers in preferring the short tracks on side one to the legendary behemoth of side two.

While the music within was nothing new by '68 and the writing less exciting than something like "Piper at the Gates", In-A-Gadda is a fine album and one that I enjoy as much today as anything by the Doors for whom they are so often compared. And while Butterfly never had the luxury of an explosive Jim Morrison at center stage, in my opinion their musicians are just as interesting. Ingle's organ sound and playing have a sinister vibe and depth to them, very cool, his playing holds my attention far more than Manzarek's endless repetitions. Erik Brann is a cool guitarist with a penchant for melodic lines and crisp, biting chord strums. Side one's short tracks are an interesting slice of psych-pop with a great period organ sound that should please any fan of the genre. Side two has some glorious moments as well, but suffers somewhat from the fact that about 10 minutes of cool music are stretched a bit much at 17 minutes. Yet its dramatic forays play out like music for an exploration, with big riffs and over-the-top organ, strange Syd-inspired screeches, effective near-silence, and even a drum solo. If you got the time, why not? Turn out the lights, kick back, and time travel back to the good days.

An easy recommendation to fans of 60s psych rock and organ rock. There is plenty of fun here if you don't take things too seriously.

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 In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by IRON BUTTERFLY album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.38 | 177 ratings

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In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Iron Butterfly Proto-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Call me a philistine, but I actually think the first side of Iron Butterfly's In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida is better than the side-long title track. The brace of heavy psych numbers (reminiscent of Love and, occasionally, the wilder moments of the Doors) the album opens with benefit from tight songwriting and an absence of filler (and tedious drum solos) that the second side can't boast. Although side-long songs would end up becoming a tradition for prog and the proggier end of heavy psych, this early example of the form fails to satisfy because the fact is that it's a three- minute psych number padded out with 14 minutes of filler and redundant repetition. Still, at least side A cooks.

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 Rare Flight by IRON BUTTERFLY album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1984
3.00 | 4 ratings

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Rare Flight
Iron Butterfly Proto-Prog

Review by The Mystical

3 stars "Rare Flight" is a retro reissue of two of Iron Butterfly's albums, "Heavy" and "Ball". The reissue has a certain retro charm to it, and it is quite a rarity.

"HEAVY" - 3.5 stars "Heavy" is a nice little album - short (clocking less than 30 mins), catchy, and an easy listen. The band is rather tight in this release 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.

"BALL" - 4 stars It is a shame that "Ball" so underrated - not only on this site, but in general too. This album screams prog to me. It is drenched in melodic psychedelia and contains many of the greatest Iron Butterfly tracks, for example "In the Time of our Lives", "Soul Experience", "Filled With Fear", and the incredibly beautiful "Belda Beast".

I believe that this album was mainly dismissed because of "Inna Gadda Da Vida". But how does a band follow up such an immortal classic as "Inna Gadda Da Vida" without disappointing their fans? It has rarely been achieved. Though this album doesn't instantly strike the listener as a classic, it contains some of the greatest psychedelic tracks that I know, and the album is a pleasant and nostalgic listen. The music contains the pop-ish aspects of "Inna Gadda Da Vida", but the music is much more subtle and is not as punchy.

I will not review every song on this album, but I do wish to point out the two greatest tracks on the album. First of all is "Soul Experience". Each time I hear the opening guitar echoing, I get cold shivers. One of my all time favourites. And second is "Belda Beast". This song is probably the most beautiful song I can think of.

This rerelease gains a total of 3 stars from me. Unfortunately the original album sleeves are not included, but the sleeve here has a retro appeal. This album is a great buy for someone who is after great value listening experience. Peace!

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 Ball by IRON BUTTERFLY album cover Studio Album, 1969
2.95 | 33 ratings

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Ball
Iron Butterfly Proto-Prog

Review by The Mystical

4 stars "Your hopes are bouncing in front of your eyes, As you jump to catch them floating so high, Bye, bye..."

What a shame that "Ball" so underrated - not only on this site, but in general too. This album screams prog to me. It is drenched in melodic psychedelia and contains many of the greatest Iron Butterfly tracks, for example "In the Time of our Lives", "Soul Experience", "Filled With Fear", and the incredibly beautiful "Belda Beast". This album holds a very special place for me, so it is very difficult to review it without being biased...but I will give it my best shot.

I believe that this album was mainly dismissed by fans and critics due to the vast popularity of "Inna Gadda Da Vida". But how does a band follow up such an immortal classic as "Inna Gadda Da Vida" without disappointing their fans? It has rarely been achieved. Though this album doesn't instantly strike the listener as a classic, it contains some of the greatest psychedelic tracks that I know, and the album is a pleasant and nostalgic listen. The music contains many of the pop-ish aspects of "Inna Gadda Da Vida", but the music is much more subtle and is not as punchy.

I won't review every song, but I do wish to point out the two greatest tracks on the album. First of all is "Soul Experience". This less that three minute long song is a journey through my deepest emotions. Each time I hear the opening guitar echoing, I get cold shivers. One of my all time favourites. Secondly, "Belda Beast". This song is probably the most beautiful song I can think of.

An excellent addition to a progressive rock collection, and an essential addition to a psychedelic music collection. 4 stars.

☮ Peace ☮

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 Heavy by IRON BUTTERFLY album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.24 | 53 ratings

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Heavy
Iron Butterfly Proto-Prog

Review by The Mystical

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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 Live by IRON BUTTERFLY album cover Live, 1970
3.08 | 18 ratings

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Live
Iron Butterfly Proto-Prog

Review by the philosopher

3 stars A remake of the In-a-gadda-da-vida?

I came across this record in a time I was deeply into the psychedelic music scene. I found a second hand vinyl copy and was attracted by it's colourfull album cover which is some kind of collage of hippies and hippy attributes. Since In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida was without doubt Iron Butterfly's biggest succes this long side-filling track is included in this liveshow. With the first halve consisting of shorter tracks this show follows the same approach of the In-A-Gadda-Da- Vida record. The question arises if this record is better or worse then the original one?

The shorter tracks on the first side of the record do please me. The tracks are -although live recorded- better produced then the IAGDV record and also of better quality if we look from the effective songwriting point of view. Iron Butterfly became never one of my favourite psychedelic bands, but their hard rocking psychedelia with a sound between The Doors and Vanilla Fudge does succeed on some moments here. The keyboard-guitar-drum and sang have all there great moments. The vocalist sings at best at "Filled with Fear" where he has some spooky vocal sessions. However, some of the outcry's of him (especcially during the song of the IAGDV record) are terrible and sounds like granny yawning into the microphone. Besides this point the band is playing quiet good and sounds professional. I don't have a preference for the live or the original version of the IAGDV titletrack and because of the better first side of the record this record as a whole is somewhat better.

3,5 stars for this legendary band.

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 In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by IRON BUTTERFLY album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.38 | 177 ratings

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In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Iron Butterfly Proto-Prog

Review by the philosopher

3 stars Acidic hard-rock lovesongs!

The sound of the Iron Butterfly is some mixture of The Doors and Vannilla Fudge. The sound is acidic and sharp. The guitar is heavy distorted, but still playes lot of melodic solo's. The keyboard sounds a bit to sharp for me and the vocals are nice, but the lyrics are all too romantic. The lovetheme in all of the songs sound a bit weird in this hardrockin' mix. It was not unusual in 60's rock to sing romantic lyrics, but for an acidic hardrock band this seems to be a bit out of place.

The first side of the record contains short songs with nice key and/or guitar melodies not so different from The Doors, except the vocals which are not as good and the amplification is far more acidic. The second side contains the titletrack which was a hit and takes the whole side with over 17 minutes playtime. Each member get a good change to show their jam and there is some nice theme on this track.

This record is a nice example of early hard-rock and therefor has some historical value. In Holland it is quiet easy to find a second hand vinyl copy for 2 or 3 euro and for this money this is a nice record. My greatest complains about this record are the romantic lyrics and the small amount of subtleties, but it ain't bad to give this some try: 3,5 stars. This music should also fit in the heavy prog category.

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 In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by IRON BUTTERFLY album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.38 | 177 ratings

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In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Iron Butterfly Proto-Prog

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Any progger under the age of 35 is bound to be muttering to themselves about now, "Oh, great! Another old fart's about to tell me how good some antiquated, dated album is just because it heralds from his 'good ol' days.'" I hear you. I promise I won't talk down or be at all patronizing. My aim is to put this historic album in perspective, not glorify it as some masterpiece of progressive rock. It ain't a Rembrandt but it is highly significant. Especially in light of what American bands were putting out there in the 60s, trying to compete with the unending stream of invigorating rock music flowing in from the UK. Our brand of prog rock seemed to be mired in manufacturing psychedelic-laden pop songs via groups sporting weird names like Strawberry Alarm Clock and Electric Prunes. When it came to extended album cuts with something new to present, The Doors pretty much stood alone on this side of the pond. Then, right at the start of the famous "summer of love" in June of '68, Iron Butterfly released "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" and we hungry teens swarmed all over it like gnats on sugar. Everything about it was cool from the colorful on-stage cover shot to the lengthy title cut that was custom-made for the exciting, anti-pop FM radio stations that were blossoming like spring wildflowers. No one else (state-side, at least) was doing what these guys were doing and it was exhilarating to hear something so radical and blatantly un-commercial emanating from the home of the brave.

Their debut had appeared in the bins earlier that same year (it stood out because of its eye-catching cover art) but the music was pedestrian and average at best. The band that recorded that disc had a different lineup but, as was the case with many groups, internal strife intervened so when it came time to go back to the studio only two of the original members were left; organist/singer Doug Ingle and drummer Ron Bushy. They recruited a reliable bass player, Lee Dorman, and a baby-faced, talented 17-year-old guitarist, Erik Braunn, and the quartet clicked right away. There's no doubt they knew they could make a decent album together but no one could've predicted what a phenomenon their sophomore effort would turn out to be. Sometimes the planets align in your favor and you find yourself in exactly the right place at precisely the right time with material that fits the social climate perfectly and that's what happened to Iron Butterfly when "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" hit the airwaves. It exploded.

Now, having said all that, if side 1 of the disc was anywhere near as good as the namesake track that took up all of side 2 today it might be hovering around in the upper reaches of the ProgArchives album chart. But side 1 is very uneven. They open with the psychedelic pop of "Most Anything You Want," a song with an inescapable Haight-Ashbury aroma. One thing that does stick out is Braunn's guitar solo for its melodic structure when a lot of his west coast contemporaries sounded like they'd never played a ride in their lives. It's the tinny Farfisa or Vox organ that's the main culprit in making the track come off as horribly passť and corny. "Flowers and Beads" is every bit as cheesy as its title implies. It's one of those trendy contemporary rock ditties formed in the same mold as the ones from the trite bands I mentioned earlier. I'm sure some clueless A&R dude at Atlantic Records deemed it to be a surefire hit single because it was "what those crazy hippies are into" but it's held up about as well as that nerd's paisley Nehru jacket. "My Mirage" is a step up. It's a trippy but subtle acid rock tune that sounded as complex as Aaron Copland if one was under the influence of an illicit substance yet it still retains a certain prog charm due to its unorthodox arrangement of creative ideas. Newcomers Dorman and Braunn co-wrote "Termination," a straightforward rocker that owns an inviting rhythm but the song is so stereotypical that it's impossible to sit through it without picturing in your head half-naked flower children cavorting in a field of pink poppies. Erik's guitar work is admirably restrained, though. The much heavier motif of Ingle's "Are You Happy" was very attractive to we frustrated rebels who cranked it up and were happily nailed to the wall by its aggressive nature. It's one of those songs that, if your garage combo could master it, proved your moxie. In some ways those of us who'd discovered the magic of Pink Floyd's "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" LP felt that Iron Butterfly's adventurous mien had the potential to be their western hemisphere equivalent and this track was one of the ones that encouraged that faint hope.

Side two is the main event. I can only speak from the experience of being there when it happened but the first time I heard "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" I was galvanized by its hip strangeness from its mysterious organ intro to the fuzzy guitar tone and the infectious beat. No matter what you may think of it, the quality of the musicianship involved is of the highest order and shouldn't be downplayed. So much has been written about this epic that I'll forgo my usual blow-by-blow description and put it into terms that most can relate to no matter their age. Timing-wise this song was ideal because it was circa '68 that marijuana was gaining wider acceptance in the heartland so many teens were trying it for the first time with this LP as the soundtrack. If the joint was lit at the start of this song one would start to get a buzz about the time that Ron's drum solo commenced. Everyone in the room would turn into an "air drummer" at the same moment and the wow factor associated with the tune would skyrocket. (Amateur drummers up to then were judged by their ability to play "Wipe Out." From now on it was Bushy's solo that separated the real stickmen from the pretenders.) After that flurry of activity passed Doug's airy decompression movement on the organ provided the requisite "mellowing out" sequence before the iconic riff was revived. Erik's guitar scratches and yelps freaked out the inexperienced toker but for most they were a cause for grins. The bass & drum tribal interlude upped the intensity for a while, then the band's seamless transition back to the indelible verse was smooth and reassuring. What I'm trying to point out is that "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" was an experience, a rite of passage if you will, that ranked up there with the offerings of Jimi Hendrix, Cream and Pink Floyd. It packaged all the sensory overloading changes that were going on in every corner of North American culture in a 17-minute aural excursion and that's why it's so special.

If you think I'm exaggerating the impact this album had then consider these facts: It raced up to #4 on the LP charts, it sold over 4 million copies in the first 6 months, it remained on the charts for 140 weeks and for 81 of those weeks it was perched in the top 10! As of 2012 total sales of individual units of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" are in the area of 25 million worldwide so its appeal is not only well-documented but universal in scope. Am I calling it a prog masterpiece? No way. It served its purpose with class and style and then we all moved on to bigger and better things in Progland. But, like some sacred relic of a bygone era, it deserves to be treated with respect. 3.8 stars.

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 Metamorphosis by IRON BUTTERFLY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.28 | 47 ratings

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Metamorphosis
Iron Butterfly Proto-Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Whilst history shows that Iron Butterfly were an extraordinarily success in their own time, for many they will always be known as the group that produced the mammoth, twenty-five minute long heavy-psych epic 'In-A- Gadda-Da-Vida',a track that defined the album of the same name. This epoch-defining piece would prove to be both a blessing and a curse, providing Iron Butterfly with a worldwide reputation that lasts to this day, yet also overshadowing almost everything else they did, including this fourth release from 1970. Seen by many as the group's last truly decent effort, 'Metamorphosis' would fare slightly better than it's underwhelming predecessor 'Ball' simply because it wasn't the follow-up to 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida'. Whilst 'Ball' pointedly eschewed the grandstanding that had been such a feature of the group's success - shorter, simpler tracks were the order of the day - 'Metamorphosis' did at least see Iron Butterfly re-embrace their psychedelic roots, the album topped off with an impressive fourteen-minute epic entitled 'Butterfly Bleu' which provided glimmers of the group's old creative fire. An otherwise rather uneven affair, 'Metamorphosis' blends up-tempo rockers, bluesy-numbers, Beatles-esque psych-pop and occasional organ-and-guitar-laced heavy rock that almost comes across as a kind of potted sonic trawl through the previous three studio releases. Some tracks grate - 'Stone Believer' is trite and light - others impress without breaking any new ground, though an added instrumental depth which sees sitars, extra percussion and steel guitars added to the mix does enliven otherwise run-of-the-mill tracks such as the poppy 'New Day' and 'Best Years Of Our life'. Hardly inspired stuff then, but at least 'Metamorphosis' avoids the pitfalls of 'Ball', though if this album proves anything it is that this a group with a rare talent for writing long, complex numbers, the best track on this album the final, lengthy, atmospheric epic. Pity then - a real pity - that they only wrote two extended pieces during their initial burst of activity. They could have been so much better.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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