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Iron Butterfly: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

Iron Butterfly: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

Mobile Fidelity  UDSACD 2118

Stereo Hybrid

Pop/Rock


Iron Butterfly


Mastered from the Original Master Tapes, Limited to 2,000 Numbered Copies: Hybrid SACD Places the Organ-Drenched Music on a Grand-Scale Soundstage

Few songs are more instantly recognized – or more influential, infamous, and, yes, notorious – than Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." The anchor of the mind-trip of an album of the same name, it occupies an entire side of an LP and runs for 17 minutes and five seconds, both bold moves in 1968 that changed how artists approached music in the studio and how listeners experienced it at home. The California-based group's sophomore record also blew open the possibilities associated with psychedelia, heavy arrangements, and suggested meanings. And with apologies to those who might've heard it in a chemical haze in the late 1960s, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida has never sounded more transformative than it does now.

Mastered from the original master tapes and strictly limited to 2,000 numbered copies, Mobile Fidelity's hybrid SACD places the work's organ-drenched melodies, acid-rock scope, mind-warping effects, and cauldron-bubbling rhythms on a soundstage as massive as the concert stage depicted on the album cover. Sonically, this collectible audiophile reissue offers elite levels of separation, balance, and imaging that put the quartet's accomplishments into greater perspective. From start to finish, the set exudes the flavor, feel, and textures of the late 1960s' most celebrated recordings, traits that reveal themselves as immediately obvious the moment the SACD starts to spin.

Often overlooked, the first side of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida features a wealth of period-era garage rock and stoner pop teeming with hummable hooks, fuzz-guitar riffs, and a decidedly mystical aura. Songs such as the strolling "Are You Happy" and cryptically spiritual "My Mirage" beg for inclusion on any of Lenny Kaye's renowned Nuggets compilations not to mention placement alongside the finest Doors material of the era. Led by Doug Ingle's distinctive and patient baritone, the tunes seemingly dangle in space and prepare the senses for the unexpected.

And that moment arrives as soon as Ingle's fingers dance across his organ keys and a come-hither groove – at once adventurous and alluring, deranged and sinister, hallucinatory and chromatic – kicks in and doesn't again let up until you've been dragged through a vibrant cosmic universe. Long rumored to have been a substitute for the phrase "in the garden of Eden," and misinterpreted due to Ingle's inebriated state as well as because of communication problems between headphones in the recording studio, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" juggles tension and excess to high-wire-thrilling degrees. Yes, it contains what many consider an unnecessary drum solo, but akin to the extended duration of the song, the percussive break belongs and remains part of the charm. Not to mention a lasting piece of pop-culture phenomena.

In a year that also saw the release of Electric Ladyland, Beggars Banquet, The Beatles, Astral Weeks, Cheap Thrills, Music from Big Pink, and The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida became Atlantic Records' biggest-ever-selling album (at that point) and spent 140 weeks on the album chart – 81 of them in the Top 10. A severely edited version of the title track rose as far as #30 on the singles chart. It has been subsequently referenced in everything from "The Simpsons" to "Seinfeld" to "Home Improvement."

Alas, too bad everyone then didn't have the pleasure or opportunity to take it all in via a truly immersive, surreal-sounding SACD reissue. Fortunately, you do.

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4 of 6 recommend this, would you recommend it?  yes | no

All
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Recording
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Analogue recording
Tracks
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1. Most Anything You Want
2. Flowers and Beads
3. My Mirage
4. Termination
5. Are You Happy
6. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Comments (6)
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Comment by diw - February 11, 2020 (1 of 6)

Immersive?

Comment by Downunderman - February 11, 2020 (2 of 6)

A baffling choice for the SACD treatment on MoFi's part.

Whilst the album does have historical relevance culturally, I'm not so sure about its musical credentials. Seems to be more a curio than top shelf art.

As a spotty 14 year old, I remember listening to this on AM radio back in 1969 in all it's wonderous congealed glory. Ironically MoFi's much more detailed and spatial presentation does the album few favours. More clearly revealing, as it does, the shortcomings in composition and performance that underpin the album.

Sound wise though, MoFi have done a good job with what, at best (in todays terms), could be described as a midfi recording.

Interestingly the left/right stereo orientation on a number of the tracks has been changed. Here is a quote from Mr LoVerde as to why this is so.

"For unknown reasons, the left/right stereo orientation of the original 1968 LP release of IN-A-GADDA-DA-VIDA does not match the original master tape on songs 1 and 5 on Side 1 and the title track which constitutes Side 2.

To replicate the original LP's stereo orientation of those songs for our all-analog LP release, we would have had to make a copy of those songs, reversing the channels in the process. Since this would have degraded the sound quality, we opted to present the songs as they appear on the original master tape. To my knowledge, this has never been done on any previous issue of the album.

Of course, we want our LP and SACD releases to match, so we replicated the left/right stereo orientation of the master tape on the SACD, as well."

So, if you are a fan of the album, it might sound a bit 'not quite right' on your initial listen to the SACD.

Comment by breydon_music - February 19, 2020 (3 of 6)

Their next one is even more baffling both artistically and sonically - a mono transfer of the debut Vanilla Fudge album?!!

Comment by Downunderman - May 4, 2020 (4 of 6)

Yes, the fudge is a disk too far for me too.

Though there seems to have been a lot of love for Iron Butterfly - This SACD seems to have gone OOP very quickly (it has been well over a month since I have last saw it 'in stock' at the usual suspects). If purchasing it was on your to do list, you may be too late now.

Comment by breydon_music - May 5, 2020 (5 of 6)

I did buy this but confess I haven't got around to playing it yet! I suppose the good thing about what you say is that MoFi seem to be doing well with their SACD reissue programme, which is only to be applauded whatever their choices! By the way, are you aware that Intervention have now scheduled a SACD of Joe Jackson's "Body and Soul" album for early June release?

Comment by Downunderman - May 6, 2020 (6 of 6)

Yes I saw that JJ's B&S is a chance - 'Digitally Recorded and Mastered' though, so Intervention might have their work cut out for them.