I got this off Ebay for around £42. Like the Small Faces and the Nice, I always wanted more than the releases that came out. Now this from Iron Butterfly. Whats it like? Much,much rawer than the official Live album, the sound is a bit harsh, distorted and compressed sounding, despite the extensive care apparently taken to prepare this for release( on re listening to IB Live, I reckon it was excessively overdubbed). Maybe it was the IB sound system, werent they supposed to be very loud? There are duplications of several tracks, obviously, as it was taken from consecutive nights at the Fillmore. It is in no way comparable to the sound quality of 1968 Zeppelin stuff. I love it, but the sound quality and price will put off all but the most obsessive fan. Worth £40ish....hmmmm, not really, but I dont regret buying it. Most of the tracks are from Heavy and......In a Gada Da Vida. 4 complete shows, except for 2 songs missing from the second concert. Don't pay silly money for it.
I've given this 5 stars as much for the sheer audio quality of the source tapes as for my enjoyment of the material. I have a lot 'official' live recordings from the 60s onwards that are a lot worse, including 'Iron Butterfly Live' from 1970, which is pretty dire and full of overdubs. My main credential for reviewing, apart from already having all the early vinyl by Iron Butterfly, is that I saw the band play in January 1971, touring 'Metamorphosis', with Erik Brann replaced by Pinera and Rhino on guitars. In response to a previous post, that concert was very loud by the standards of the time. I have read somewhere on the web that Iron Butterfly used Blue Cheer's stacks of Marshall amps for the Fillmore gigs, which would have made them very loud in these recordings. [As an aside, I wonder if anyone taped Traffic and Blue Cheer from the same series of concerts]. So to this: The four concerts were recorded at 15 i.p.s on half-inch tape so the basic quality is good. I don't know how much the modern mastering changed the original audio but it doesn't sound too compressed to me - I haven't run it through an analyser yet, so I could be wrong. Most of the tracks are from 'Heavy' which was recorded the summmer before with three different band members and the rest are from the not-yet-finished 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida'. I called the review 'History in the making' because the two live versions of 'Vida' on this CD are before the track was recorded one month later and the album released, going on to sell 25 million copies. Both versions are definitely 'work in progress' compared with the recorded version, and Erik Brann's bowing on the guitar solo after the drum solo doesn't have the electronic screeching effect of the studio version. I'm assuming that Brann's solos on the three versions of 'Are You Happy' are on his usual Mosrite Ventures guitar: pure 60s psychedelic fuzz and distortion, sounding like neither the rock-staple Fenders or Gibsons of the time. Apart from the quality of the original audio, the band is impressively tight even though Lee Dorman and Erik Brann had joined only a few months before. The whole thing is well-packaged with good liner notes, but I suppose this is one for completists of Iron Butterfly as there are up to four versions of some tracks. It may also appeal to students of the transition from psychedelic rock to heavy metal in the early 70s - even down to the continuity announcement about a forthcoming Jimi Hendrix gig at the Fillmore. I'm just enjoying the nostalgia, but it is an expensive indulgence unless you really, really want it.
I am addicted to Iron Butterfly since the very first time I've heard them in the end of the 60s, the irony is that it happened behind the Iron Curtain. Therefore, this is strictly my personal opinion, and I do not try to be objective. First of all, this album is an excellent introduction of real values for any fan "stoner" rock, because the music was born long before some smart *** coined the term (the word was invented, OK, but what about music? To get stoned is the easiest part of the trade), and back then it was known as psychedelia or acid*. There was only one Iron Butterfly, a mesmerizing, powerful and innovative act from Los Angeles, an epitome of psychedelia brushing with hard`n'heavy. The inimitable combination of monumental voice (like the symbols of totalitarian regime) with church organ and the rhythm of walking dinosaur (Robert Shelton, a reputable NY critic, called it "death-march pace") turned Iron Butterfly into "a lasting definition of heavy rock" (quote from excellent notes of David Fricke for this album). A useful (or helpful?) hint - the band is still alive, at least its spirit and music. It has an official website, from where until recently one could obtain the same CD autographed by Ron Bushy and Lee Dorman, plus piles of other merchandise, - which I advise you to do. I agree that this CD doesn't come cheap, but it's really worth it, I would have readily paid more (look, one easily spends that much and even more on going out, and nothing is left after but hangover). Perhaps, this is the most important artifact of the decade - a historical debut of Iron Butterfly in New York City at the Fillmore East (there is no reference in otherwise excellent Bill Graham book - Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out), in 1968, featuring recordings from two live shows (26 and 27 April), when the original line-up was on stage: Doug Ingle (vocals/organ), Lee Dorman (bass), Erik Brann (guitar) - he was only 17 at the time - and Ron Bushy (drums). Iron Butterfly was opening for Traffic and Blue Cheer, and outshone both - I guess... The band just released their debut album "Heavy" (Heavy) and apart from these tracks, they were performing, FOR THE FIRST TIME, the organ-led funeral mass for tormented soul "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" (plus "Are You Happy" and "My Mirage"). Both shows are on the CD (except few damaged tracks), 22 songs, all painstakingly restored from original tapes. Maybe not an audiophile quality, but it is real - do you remember the equipment used at the concerts and in the studios in the 60s-70s? You want to tell me that we had digital sound? The sound is not neutered, it is alive. No complaints, better than previously available live album - Live. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ *On many occasions I was surprised by stoner generation sheer and blatant ignorance - in the best case they know the names from the past, but not the music (Iron Butterfly, sadly, is one of the "unknowns"). "Here And Now" always runs the market, but why to stick to pale and lifeless imitators and deprive yourself of the real quality?