Iron Butterfly live, heavy at Fillmore East

rhino handmade album cover Iron Butterfly Fillmore East 1968They’ve been going in and out of style since “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” first scorched earth in 1968. Looks like Iron Butterfly is in for another round of retro-appreciation.

On Oct. 17, the psychedelic heavies get the Rhino Handmade treatment with a live double-CD set recorded at the Fillmore East.

The CDs (and MP3s) capture the “classic” version of Iron Butterfly in April 1968, just after the band was rebuilt in the wake of their debut album. The album “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” would surface several months after these performances.

There are 22 songs recorded during a quartet of sets at the Bill Graham concert hall.

The line-up is singer/organist Doug Ingle, bassist Lee Dorman, teen guitarist Erik Brann and drummer Ron Bushy.

(Update: The Iron Butterfly live set appears to be available only as an import as of early 2012.)

Here’s Rhino’s word on the audio for “Fillmore East 1968”:

The well-defined sound heard on these previously unreleased recordings is the result of the quality of the original tapes and the meticulous restoration used to prepare them for this project. Original recording engineer Lee Osborne recorded all the shows using a four-track recorder running at 15 ips. Unfortunately, audio signal issues made the first two songs from the second set on April 26 unusable.

If those two songs were usable, they’d be repeats anyway. Like many collector’s sets, “Fillmore East 1968” offers multiple versions of its tracks. (Alas, there is no repeat-free single CD.) “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” for instance, appears twice — in a 17:11 version and a slightly restrained 15:20 take.

The band’s monster closing number, “Iron Butterfly Theme,” shows up four times, running between 4 and 5 minutes. “Iron Butterfly Theme” is No. 30 on this site’s list of the top 100 psychedelic songs.

The Butterfly gave the New York audience a preview of two other “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” album songs, “Are You Happy” and “My Mirage.”

Other likely highlights are “Unconscious Power,” “So-Lo” and “Possession,” all from the debut album, “Heavy.”

The collector’s label also went psychedelic with “Box of Fudge” from Vanilla Fudge. We hold out much greater hopes for “Fillmore East 1968” as Iron Butterfly is a vastly underrated band (with the Fudge vastly overrated).


  1. Russell D. Brown says:

    I Love Iron Butterfly, but the reviewer’s contention that they were anywhere near as talented or inventive as Vanilla Fudge is tantamount to saying that Peter Noone was more skilled than Jimi Hendrix!

    • Russell — Not sure which reviewer you’re referring to, as I agree with your sentiments. Iron Butterfly > Vanilla Fudge. Thanks for the comment, though …

      • Russell D. Brown says:

        Not to belabor the point, Abel, but my contention is that IB were rank amateurs compared to the Fudge.

        • Ahhh — sorry Russell I misread your comment. We certainly disagree in that case. And while I value your input, you do Peter Noone a disservice by comparing him to Vanilla Fudge. Which Vanilla Fudge songs are good, in your opinion? I can’t think of one, certainly not those syrupy covers of great Motown songs … (BTW, I do not consider “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida” a great or very good Iron Butterfly song. The band did record its share of dogs.)

          • Russell D. Brown says:

            Some of my favorites: “Faceless People”, “Some Velvet Morning”, “Ain’t That Peculiar”, “Thoughts”. I could go on, but you get the point. The Fudge were amazing at drawing the latent power out of pop songs. I’m pretty sure they could play the IB catalog, but I’m pretty sure the IB wouldn’t have the chops to play Fudge tunes.

            Which isn’t to diminish the IB. I like most of their stuff, especially the “Scorching Beauty” LP, which everyone else seems to hate.

            This Fillmore set does make me curious as to how the Ingle-Weis-Bushy-Penrod-DeLoach lineup sounded live, since so much of the material is from “Heavy”.

            Always nice to meet a fellow psych-head.

            P.S. I will admit that the Fudge offshoot Cactus is spectacularly over-rated. Nothing Blue Cheer didn’t do earlier and better!

          • Thanks, Russell. Listened to them all. Of the bunch, I liked “Faceless People” best. Have posted it on the home page with a hat tip to you.

            From Iron Butterfly: Iron Butterfly Theme, Unconscious Power, Butterfly Bleu, Soul Experience, Soldier in Our Town …

            Yeah, I’d wager Bogert and Appice could outplay just about anyone. I saw Cactus back in the day, live, and they were sensational. I liked the first album at the time, but went back and listened to Cactus recently and (shrug) …

            Pleasure to meet you as well, hope you’ll be commenting some more, the site needs all knowledgeable music lovers it can get.

  2. Ronnie Acerra says:

    Butterfly = Magic ! Fudge = Good cover band. End.

  3. I never liked V. Fudge, overdone and silly at least to me, I did however like Iron Butterfly, not all but they did some good stuff though. To me none of these comes even close to my all time favorite band — the one and only Steppenwolf!

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