Essential Atlantic: Iron Butterfly, IN-A-GADDA-DA-VIDA

Thursday, July 23, 2020
Iron Butterfly IN A GADDA DA VIDA Cover

For the next several weeks (or maybe just until we decide that we want to stop doing it, since normalcy seems likely to remain on hiatus for the foreseeable future), will be spotlighting an album from the Atlantic Records discography that qualifies as “Essential.” And what rigorous standards and/or mathematical algorithm did we use to come up with the criteria to define “Essential,” you ask? None at all. You’ll just have to trust our instincts. But they’re really good, we swear...

Some have described this album’s title track as proto-metal, while others have referred to it as heavy psychedelic excess, but no matter what you call it, Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” is one of the defining songs of the late ‘60s, an epic-length track that spanned the entire second side of the album that shares its name. Written – like four of the album’s other five songs – by the band’s lead singer, Doug Ingle, the tune was edited down from its original 17:05 length to a more radio-friendly 2:53 single version and climbed all the way to #30 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album, however, made it to #4 on the Billboard Top 200, and it’s gone platinum four times over at this point.

Here are two things that may surprise you about this album:

1.    It wasn’t the band’s first LP. That honor went to HEAVY, which was released earlier in the year, and topped out at #78, with neither of its singles (“Don’t Look Down on Me” and “Unconscious Power” cracking the charts.
2.    BALL, the band’s follow-up to IN-A-GADDA-DA-VIDA, actually charted higher than its predecessor, hitting #3, but it soon began a descent that led to the LP only going gold.

But getting back to IN-A-GADDA-DA-VIDA, it’s definitely not an album for all tastes, but it’s one that’s a sonic time capsule of just how wild popular music could be in the late ‘60s, and it’s a must-hear for any music fan, just so you can know what the kids were listening to at the time. It’s wild, man!


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