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Carl Bookstein examines psyschedelic Californian group Iron Butterfly's recently reissued 1968 second album, 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida'
Iron Butterfly came to prominence in the summer of 1968 with the release of their second album, 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida'. The album soon became a platinum mega seller with historic record breaking sales numbers.
Originally hailing from San Diego, California, Iron Butterfly soon moved to Los Angeles, where following a line-up change they arose from the L.A. underground. An engagement at the famed Whisky a Go Go club in L.A. led to opening slots for the Byrds, the Doors and Buffalo Springfield.
The band’s line-up on 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' was Doug Ingle, Ron Bushy, Lee Dorman and Erik Brann. The title track could be described as an over-the-top gothic rock like monolith, coming in at the epic length of over seventeen minutes.
The newly expanded edition of the album aims to be the definitive version.
'Most Anything You Want' chimes brightly from the start - basic upbeat psychedelic rock, with lyrics from Ingle about making his girl happy, and a Ray Manzarek Doors-like organ riff.
'Flowers and Beads' follows suit - another love song that conjures other candy sweet gems of this era, harkening to sounds from the Strawberry Alarm Clock and even Tommy James and The Shondells.
'My Mirage' offers a taste of stoner rock, drug tripping imagery.
'Termination' features stinging electric guitar and nimble drum fills - clearly the music of a band of four that join together in a symbiotic groove. While these first songs don’t equal the songwriting creativity of California contemporaries from the Doors to Jefferson Airplane, this is nevertheless pleasing, solid psychedelic rock fare.
The album’s material becomes even more enjoyable as it turns up a few notches with the famed epic title track. 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' is a flowing organic beast of a sonic electric stoner rock song - an ode to extended instrumental jamming, drum solos, cascading organ and surging guitar and bass. The guttural vocal with lyrics that speak to the Garden of Eden is also forever memorable.
The bonus tracks include both the single version and a live version of the title song (plus the pleasing “'Soul Experience'), but the organic extended album version of 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' remains the hallmark of this album.