Iron Butterfly

Atco Records, 1968


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I've often said that as I wander the vast halls of the Pierce Archives (where we're only seven-and-one-half games behind Houston for the division lead), I often find titles that I honestly don't remember buying. I also find titles that I bought and have never gotten around to listening to - some of them approaching four years old. (This is kind of why I started "The Daily Vault" in the first place - to force me off my keister and to listen to these. So far, it hasn't worked; I wouldn't be surprised if I added over 500 titles to the Archives yearly.)

A third category in my searches is the "why did I even bother to buy this?" description. This fits today's review victim, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Heavy, the 1968 debut release from Iron Butterfly.

Actually, I do know why I bought it. I had owned In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida for some time, and got some type of kitsch-y joy out of it. So, why not pick up other titles from the band and enjoy that same retro excitement?

Problem is, there's not a lot of that same feeling on the debut release. In a sense, it's a whole different band than In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Keyboardist Doug Ingle and drummer Ron Bushy are two members that made, shall we say, the first cut; but the Iron Butterfly that recorded Heavy included bassist Jerry Penrod, vocalist Darryl DeLoach and guitarist Danny Weis. And while there are some touches of psychedelia on this one, Heavy is more a pop album than a "stoner" work.

If only Iron Butterfly were a good pop band. The first side of this one is absolutely atrocious. Cuts like "Unconscious Power," "You Can't Win" and a cover of Allen Toussaint's "Get Out Of My Life, Woman" are barely listenable. The playing is blah, the songwriting is even more blah, and had Iron Butterfly's career been based on these five songs, they'd all have been slinging hash at the local Big Boy in no time flat.

The second side of Heavy holds a little promise. Cuts like "So-Lo" and "Fields Of Sun" have some promise, but it is still underdeveloped. The album's instrumental closer, "Iron Butterfly Theme," provides the brightest ray of hope for this band, and serves as a small tease for what was to come.

The funny thing is, if you listen to Heavy and this is your first exposure to Iron Butterfly, you'd never guess that this was the same band (more or less) that would later that year release an album that would, for some time, be the best selling album in Atlantic Records's history. Yes, Heavy charted well when it came out, but after 30 years, it really is time someone called a spade a spade.

Heavy is a rather low-key, uninspired introduction to a band that could do more than the disc proves. Fortunately for them, their fifteen minutes of fame clock was about to start ticking.

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atco Records, and is used for informational purposes only.