Saturday, August 20, 2011

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (1968)

Even though I bought this within a year of its release—one of my first-ever album purchases out of a retail outlet and incidentally contributing to its rank, as Wikipedia informs me, as the #31 best-selling album ever—I somehow never realized until recently that the nonsense syllables are actually a rendering of "in the Garden of Eden." Not sure how I missed that. Next thing, and this is at least as obvious as the Bible reference should have been to me, you can skip the first vinyl side. Move right along. Nothing to see here. In fact, I would hazard to guess that the handful or so of times I have listened recently to these five songs is very likely as much as I ever listened to them way back. No, this is all about the 17-minute title song occupying side 2, in which Iron Butterfly borrows Ray Manzarek's organ, looms as heavy as it can at all points, even offers up a drum solo, which I didn't like much even back then, and back then I thought drum solos were pretty cool. It used to get played late at night on the underground FM stations, but I'm not sure how much anyone over the age of 13—certainly over the age of 21—ever dug it. Has it aged well? No, I don't think so. Nostalgists, even you are likely to be disappointed; I speak with authority as a nostalgist myself. The weird noises that start to set in along about the 11:00 mark are kind of interesting (used to give me the willies in the middle of the night), but for the most part it all just drones and lumbers along and offers up thin gruel. Probably the one lasting legacy Iron Butterfly can claim is the naming strategy for the band, pairing a reasonably dense metallic substance as a qualifier for something that flies (I see that it was also a nickname for '30s musical star Jeanette MacDonald, but I'm sure that is entirely unrelated). Others used the strategy as they could, and one band in particular made an outstanding career for itself that would start with a bang in the year that followed the release of this, and proceed from there to go nuclear.


  1. When we were in high school, we would actually dance to the title track. We didn't stop for the drum solos.

  2. An earliest memory of "heavy" was visiting some cousins for the first time in California, where an older brother, two or three years older than me at the time, very long hair, played the drum solo from the title track here over and over. Very heavy.