Records That Made History

Iron Butterfly – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

todayOctober 21, 2023 163 1 5

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In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is the second studio album by American rock band Iron Butterfly, released in 1968. It is notable for its title track, which takes up the entire second side.

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Albums Chart and was certified 4 times platinum in the United States on January 26, 1993, achieving worldwide sales of over 30 million copies. It was the biggest selling album of 1969 in the US. It was also Atlantic Records’ biggest-selling album until Led Zeppelin’s IV surpassed it.

The album opens with the garage-rock track “Most Any You Want”, which really sounds like Music Machine playing in full bloom. With a ferocious guitar solo pushing the song along and Dough Ingle’s instrumental tying in perfectly. “Flowers And Beads” quickly follows with a full pop-style beat, in contrast to the Doors’ lighter moments. “My Mirage” is a frantic psychedelic track, with the ominous instrumental setting the tone. Guitarist Erik Brann playing some hard hitting harmonies elevates the track nicely. “Termination” is a raucous rock track with hard guitar riffs, from Brann, who also does lead vocals. The first side ends with the instrumental-dominated track “Are You Happy?”. Its swing rhythm flows beautifully until it evolves into hard rock, through a duel of bass and guitar.

On the first side, all the songs are mostly pure rock compositions, ranging between three and five minutes each. The second side however, is a piece of its own. The title song, which was and still is today the legend of the album, occupies the entire second side of the record.

For just over 17 minutes, the listener is treated to a relentless riff that builds and builds as the organ, bass and drums weave in and around the track. An unbreakable mood is created as the song travels. There is no virtuosic playing here, but all the members of the group have a distinct feel for what each other is doing so that in the end everything comes together perfectly.

According to the group’s drummer Ron Bushy, the group’s organist and singer Doug Ingle, whose father played church organ, wrote the track In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida one night when he had drunk a gallon of red mountain wine. So when the drunken Ingle sang the track for Bushy, who had also written the lyrics, what he was singing sounded to Bushy’s ears like “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” instead of “In The Garden Of Eden” which was the actual lyric and so was written on the demo copy given to the record company, whose manager decided to use it as the title of the album as well, as it sounded quite mystical, a sign of the times, as at that time oriental spirituality was high, with the Beatles going to India and the Rolling Stones experimenting with Indian instruments.

The band’s original guitar player quit before this was recorded. He was replaced by Eric Braun, who had only played the guitar for 3 months.

This was the first hit song that could be classified as “Heavy Metal.” The phrase was introduced that year in the Steppenwolf song “Born To Be Wild.”

Iron Butterfly would have performed this at Woodstock, but they didn’t make it because they were stuck at the airport.

From this legendary album we choose, what else, the eponymous In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

Tracklist

Side one

1. Most Anything You Want 3:44
2. Flowers and Beads 3:09
3. My Mirage 4:55
4. Termination 2:53
5. Are You Happy 4:31

Side two

1. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida 17:05

Written by: Dimitris Sigalos

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