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For hardcore fans who are into the music of Iron Butterfly...

DVD Review: Iron Butterfly: Concert & Documentary – Europe 1997

Iron Butterfly is an American psychedelic/heavy metal band that was formed in 1966 by keyboardist Doug Ingle and drummer Ron Bushy in San Diego, California. In 1967 they recorded their first album, Heavy, which stayed on the Billboard charts for almost a year as they toured with the likes of The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Traffic, The Who, and Cream.

But it was in 1968 that the band released the album that they are most associated with, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. The album not only broke the rules of song length with its 17:05 minute title track, but it broke records by selling more albums in the history of recorded music within the first year of its release (over eight million copies sold), and became the very first platinum album ever. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida stayed on the charts for 140 weeks, spent 81 weeks in the top 10, to date has sold over 30 million copies, and has been certified platinum.

While the original run of the band ended in 1971, they re-formed in 1974 to tour. They released additional albums in 1975, 1976, 1988, 1993, 1995, and they are intending to release another one with new material in 2009.

Iron Butterfly: Concert & Documentary features the band during their European tour in 1997. This lineup contains Doug Ingle on lead vocals and keyboards, Lee Dorman on bass, Ron Bushy on drums, Eric Barnett on guitar, and Derek Hilland on second keyboards. The first three made up three-quarters of the original In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida lineup with only Eric Brann missing.

The quality of the recording is, in general, pretty good. Some of the film is a bit grainy but overall very acceptable. The picture format is NTSC 4:3 with Dolby Digital AC3. The total time is around 102 minutes with about 65 minutes of music and the rest of the DVD contains a documentary featuring members of the band and others reminiscing.

The performances from the band are very high quality and well done. They obviously have worked together for a long time and have their timing down. Vocals sound good from both a performance and technical standpoint. The original band members themselves look a little road-worn and it was a little hard to take drummer Ron Bushy in a tank top. Some of the psychedelic effects that were included during the songs seemed a little too much, except when hiding Bushy's attire.

While the interviews are choppily edited, cutting in and out to different people, they were overall very interesting. I had often heard about how the name of the song "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" was originally "In the Garden of Eden," but it was interesting to hear how it really came about from the source himself, Ron Ingle. In the documentary, he also does a real nice job on an acoustic piece. Also included is Yes guitarist Steve Howe, who talks about Iron Butterfly and the times that Yes worked with them, especially at London's Royal Albert Hall.

Overall, I think that Iron Butterfly: Concert & Documentary is good. It has some moments, and I found that the interviews were interesting. While for many this DVD may be disappointing, it is really for hardcore fans who are into the music of Iron Butterfly, or for those want to learn more about an important piece of American rock history and meet some of the cast members. For the fans of Iron Butterfly I will give it three stars.

Song List:

  • Iron Butterfly Theme
  • Unconscious Power
  • In the Time of Our Lives
  • Flowers and Beads
  • Silent Screaming
  • Butterfly Bleu
  • Whispers in the Wind
  • In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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One comment

  1. Hi Thomas, here is Rita! Do you remember? (Schreinerstr.