Here are some facts for you:

  1. Iron Butterfly In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida was the first album ever to be awarded platinum status.
  2. Offstage the bassist Lee Dorman was the deepest thinker of the group.
  3. To date In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida has sold just under 900 million units in the USA – every adult in Arizona owns at least one copy, apparently.
  4. President Clinton once jammed along to the title track with Tony Blair late one night at Camp David.
  5. The title comes from Doug Ingle allegedly being so stoned off his tits that he couldn’t say ‘In the Garden on Eden’.
  6. This LP is inadvertently responsible for my favourite ever Simpsons moment.

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I bought an original copy of this back in 1997 for not very much money* and, well, had pretty mixed views on the sucka.  I found In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida like a 1968 mirror twin to Rush 2112, one full side of ass-gripping brilliance and just some other stuff.   Side One, apart from the last track on it ‘Are You Happy’ is even if listened to in a good mood, awful – all portentous nonsense and crap about flowers and beads.  Yuk!

BUT flip this beauty to Side Two and the 17-minute title track and we emerge fully into a brave new world of ass-gripping brilliance.  I.Ron Butterfly bring the heaviness!  The skittering organ intro aside, that riff is just wonderful, its not so much played as hewn from the living rock.  I picture ancient pagan standing stones at night, shrouded in a fug of suspiciously sweet-smelling smoke … naked dancing chicks** gyrating wildly and those lava lamp-style projections sliding in and out of focus everywhere.

The tone and playing are just great here, Mr Ingle’s organ*^ and Erik Brann’s guitar are so heavy (in the 60’s sense of the word) it’s wonderful.  Then we’re off into drum and organ solo territory for the next 50 minutes or so, you know what though? it works a treat, especially Ron Bushy’s slightly tribal drumming.  I’m a big fan of songs that you can listen to and leave on whilst you go for a, umm, comfort stop half way through, then make a coffee, call your parents, maybe pop out and buy some more milk and then return to without missing anything essential.

‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ is so immense it must have its own gravitational pull, normal rules just don’t apply – you simply have to accept it for what it is, on its own terms, without any reference to anything else that there ever was/has been/will be.  I know the daft, overly serious sleevenotes and the drippy first side of the LP are just products of their time too.

Heavy / Light - get it? It's all so heavy, man.
Heavy / Light – get it? It’s all so heavy, man.
I have a bit of a confession for you all though.  I am genuinely a bit scared that following it you will all unfollow me and reject my company for ever more, airbrushing me out of your photos and pretending you have never heard of me.  Well … I was having a listen on Spotify last night at live versions of ‘..Gadda..’ when I … no, I can’t go on. Sorry.  (Overnight pause) No I owe it to future generations to tell this tale, so that they may learn from my mistakes and that there be some merit in my downfall.

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I discovered that Boney M had covered it, albeit shortening the title to ‘Gadda-Da-Vida’ and the song to 5:05.  So, God help me, I thought I’d have a little listen – maybe I’d mention it in the blog post and poke fun at them.  I have to report it’s a work of pure unalloyed genius – throw me off the Mighty Bus Of Rock, cancel my subscription to Viking Hedonist: Monthly, remove all my Iron Maiden tattoos via laser treatment and shave off my long, flowing mane by all means, but Boney M’s version is better than the original, the original that I love.  Yes, I just said that; no, I haven’t been drinking and yes, I mean it.  Just listen to the vocoder, people!  It brings out all the previously hidden inherent robo-camp undertones in the song.  I love this unreservedly and it is much easier to dance to than the original, funnier too^.

I dance rather like the chap on the right.  Time for bed, maybe I’ll feel better in the morning.

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554 Down.



*well let’s face it there ain’t any shortage of them knocking about!
**to be entirely fair I should confess that I can picture those no matter what the piece of music I’m listening to is.
*^Definitely not a good title for a children’s book!
^Just wondering, was this move the inspiration behind Scissor Sisters ‘Comfortably Numb’?

35 thoughts on “In-A Gadda-Da-Disco

  1. CB will chime in with a film related bit. Michael Mann’s ‘Manhunter’ uses the title song perfectly. Near the ending when everything goes cowshit. A fave flick that rekindled this tune.

  2. I know nothing of this band or album. However, I very much like the write-up of the song and the fact that it came from the dude being too stoned to say ‘In the Garden on Eden’. That’s ace. Kinda band I would dig. Also, I like the album cover … though I don’t think I’m digging the sounds.

  3. I know the tune, never owned the record.

    I am more entranced by that Boney M video. That is hilarity on a scale designed to blow minds and peel paint. Holy crap that is a huge piece of hilarious shite! Hahahaha!

  4. Apparently that handed out a copy of this record to everyone that passed the state line into Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Puerto Rico. True story, possibly.

    My parents had In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida and I never knew there was more than just one side to this album. Neither did the band.

    Two of my favorite Iron Butterfly moments? Of course The Simpsons episode ‘Bart Sells His Soul’ and the end scene in Michael Mann’s ‘Manhunter’. That’s all I got.

  5. The oxymoron ice name really fits this album because it really rocks on one side and totally sucks on the other. They could have called the band Iron Turd.

  6. Taste = personal and relative. Up with People!!!

    I share your pro-Gadda leanings and your joy at that perfect Simpsons moment you cite.

    While I respect you and your liberty to choose to be wrong anytime you wish (smile), I cannot abide in my own mind space disrespect of either the psychedelic wonderful and of-its-time goofiness of this Side One or the glory of 2112 Side Two (Passage to Bangkok and Something for Nothing being two of my most shower-sung Rush tunes ever). As a some-time fan of Boney M — Rasputin being one of my personal most-chronic earworm songs of all time, which I will now have in my head for days for having simply thought of it — I rejoice not in their Gadda cover.

    1. Et tu Victim?!

      More thought crime here in 1537?! Okay, so I’ll give you ‘Something For Nothing’ and I am seriously impressed if you can hit those notes in a shower, but the rest? nah.

      There lived a certain man in Russia long ago
      He was big and strong, in his eyes a flaming glow
      Most people looked at him with terror and with fear
      But to Moscow chicks he was such a lovely dear ….

  7. Slayers version of In A Gadda….was the first time I actually listened to Slayer as they were on the Less Than Zero soundtrack! Man what a heavy track followed by Roy Orbison on the soundtrack…Haha…
    Great Review of 2112 In under a sentence …that’s classic …

  8. OK.
    Nope to ‘In-a-gadda-da-vida’. Tedious, uninventive, reptetative, over-rated.
    Yep to side one. Of-its-time, sure, but at least offering actual songs in the American version of psychedelia.
    Yep Yep Yep to Boney M. Bottom-clentchingly awful in every way and utterly mesmerising. That clip! Must’ve lavished at least $3.79 on that one.
    Now go to bed.

    1. You big heathen!

      In-A-Gadda is a wonderful, lumbering brontosaurus of a track!

      Consider yourself banned from 1537 for 20 minutes, for thought crimes.

    1. Harsh I know – But I just wanted 2112 – Part.2 on Side 2.

      I may have made #4 up a little bit, it is borderline feasible though isn’t it?

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