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, pressed at RTI, and strictly limited to 3,000 numbered copies, Mobile Fidelity’s 180g vinyl LP 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. Speaking of the latter, Mobile Fidelity’s faithful-to-the-original graphics and first-rate reproductions of the lava-lamp-ready colors are as close as you’re going to get to seeing the famous artwork in pristine form lest you come across a copy untouched by five decades of aging. (Good luck.)

Sonically, this collectible audiophile reissue offers elite levels of separation, balance, and imaging that put the quartet’s accomplishments into greater perspective. 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.

 

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