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

The band that briefly out-did Hendrix, The Doors et al.

Its “strictly chickenshit” organ may have “bored to death” Rolling Stone in 1968, but Iron Butterfly’s second album was a monster US hit (it’s now sold 30 million) and the sound of that summer.

As the band’s name laboured to suggest, their riffs caught the moment flower-power first flirted with heavy metal. They epitomised the burgeoning counter-culture almost unconsciously. The 17-minute title track was a studio soundcheck, fortuitously taped while they waited for the producer to arrive, and its refrain a slurred mondegreen. While its near-gothic meanderings owe a bass-line debt to Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love, it still prowls and growls with stoner certitude.

Often overlooked is the fact that other songs, such as Most Anything You Want and Are You Happy, have a tingle of inspiration too. Bonuses on this edition include the sub-three-minute single edit of their anthem, implausibly covered in 1980 for Boney M’s biggest flop./o:p

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.