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


Iron Butterfly



3.43 | 238 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Iron Butterfly's 1968 chestnut is a regular feature on all those lists of the 1000 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. I've been avoiding it for decades, hoping I might live forever.

No such luck, regrettably. I finally caught up to it after 40-plus years, and while I'm not prepared to kick the bucket just yet, my life expectancy was certainly shortened by at least the 36-minutes it took to play the album start to finish.

Let's address the obvious first. Side One is worthless: six songs of lightweight flotsam from the Summer of Love. And as someone who came of age not too far from the corner of Haight and Ashbury (albeit too late for the 1960s), I'd say the groovy pop fodder of "Flowers and Beads" and "My Mirage" was probably considered lame even by the kaleidoscopic standards of the time.

The side-long title track is, however, a different trip altogether, in a quasi-historical but now wildly dated way. On a personal note it's impossible for me to hear it without being reminded of THE RESIDENTS and their tongue-in-cheek demolition of the song on their "Third Reich and Roll" album (alongside many other easily targeted musical icons of the era). A 17-minute rock song was probably considered daring for its day, although to be frank a lot of that total length was padding: the drum solo, for starters.

But it remains emblematic of a time when popular culture was testing its boundaries, providing a valuable clue to where psychedelic music was heading before Progressive Rock restored some much needed structure to a very attractive but often undisciplined chaos. And of course the song introduced what would soon become one of the most familiar riffs in modern music history: played, replayed, and parodied for almost half a century now.

In retrospect there's a goofy innocence to the album extending beyond it obvious nostalgia value. You can hear it throughout the shorter songs in particular, but also in the charming notion that at one time this music was in any way considered 'heavy'. Maybe you just had to be there.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |


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