Wednesday, 5 August 2015

"Ball/Metamorphosis" by IRON BUTTERFLY (2015 Beat Goes On CD – Andrew Thompson Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

Contains the album "Metamorphosis" released in 1970

"...Stone Believer..." 

Always hard to categorize – IRON BUTTERFLY divide lovers of both the 60s and 70s – some saying they were a one-hit-album wonder (1968's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" which sold 4 millions copies on release and has amassed a further 16 million since) that never fully capitalised on that 2nd album lightning-in-a-bottle magic. But this clever and amazing-sounding 2015 Beat Goes On CD Reissue seems determined to reassess that – and in the case of the criminally forgotten "Metamorphosis" LP from 1970 – BGO wins the argument hands down. Let's get to the heavy but brightly coloured wings...

UK released July 2015 – "Ball/Metamorphosis" by IRON BUTTERFLY reissues their 3rd and 5th albums onto 1CD on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1193 (Barcode 5017261211934) and breaks down as follows (75:53 minutes):

1. In The Time Of Our Lives
2. Soul Experience
3. Lonely Boy
4. Real Fright
5. In The Crowds
6. It Must Be Love [Side 2]
7. Her Favorite Style
8. Filled With Fear
9. Belda-Beast
Tracks 1 to 9 are their 3rd album "Ball" – released February 1969 in the USA on Atco SD 33-280 and in the UK on Atlantic 228 011 (Stereo)

10. Free Flight
11. New Day
12. Shady Lady
13. Best Years Of Our Life
14. Slower Than Guns
15. Stone Believer
16. Soldier In Our Town
17. Easy Rider (Let The Wind Pay The Way)
18. Butterfly Bleu
Tracks 10 to 18 are their 5th album "Metamorphosis" credited to IRON BUTTERFLY with Pinera & Rhino. It was released August 1970 in the USA on Atco SD 33-339 and April 1971 in the UK on Atco 2401 003. The British LP reversed the playing order for both Sides – "Soldier In Our Town" to "Butterfly Bleu" made up the 3 tracks of Side 1 (16, 17 and 18 on this CD) - while "Free Flight" to "Stone Believer" made up the 5 tracks of Side 2 (10 to 15 on this CD).

The outer card slipcase lends the whole thing a classy feel while the 16-page booklet features liner notes by noted writer NEIL DANIELS including a history of the group and interviews with Panera about new plans for 2014 (a tour, a new album after 40 years). There are album credits, some publicity photos and black and white shots of the boys on "Born To Be Wild" motorbikes (no lyrics unfortunately). Licensed from WEA - the remasters have been handled in 2015 by ANDREW THOMPSON and are amazing – stunning clarity and power on both records – especially the mightier of the two "Metamorphosis".

The "Ball" LP hit the Stateside Top 5 in February of 1969 – going one notch higher than its sensational predecessor "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" which reached No. 4 in July 1968. Although primarily an album's band - Atco launched the catchy "Soul Experience" b/w "In The Crowds" as an American 45 in February 1969 on Atco 6647 but it managed only a 75 chart placing. It was followed in May 1969 with the album opener "In The Time Of Our Lives" b/w "It Must Be Love" on Atco 6676 and it faired worse – climbing to only 96. In fact when you listen to the decidedly un-commercial doom-laden riffage of "In The Time Of Our Lives" – it's amazing anyone thought it would make a viable single when the more chipper and frankly groovy "Real Fright" with its Funky Bass intro (like The Doors on Speed) would have been a wiser choice. "In The Crowds" has a King Crimson Prog opening before it quickly morphs into an upbeat Rock song (the audio remaster on this is superlative). The Side 2 opener "It Must be Love" has Ingles' voice similar to Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull - and combined with Erik Brann’s heavy guitar playing and Ingle’s ever-present keyboards – at times it sounds like Jethro Tull meets The Doors (in a good way). "Her Favorite Style" is probably the most dated tune on here sounding like a highly polished madrigal – better is the slightly out-there freakish rhythms in "Filled With Fear" while the floating keyboards of "Belda-Beast" is almost Pink Floyd. Overall the album is good rather than being great...

If "Ball" was good - "Metamorphosis" was a massive jump forward (even if it only charted at 16 instead of Ball’s higher placing at 3). It showed a real song-writing maturity and is so often overlooked (like much of their catalogue) for 1968’s chart slayer "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida". It opens with the rather pointless 50-seconds of "Free Flight" - an instrumental noodle that promises something but never really delivers. But it segues into the Steppenwolf Boogie Rock of "New Day" where Iron Butterfly achieves a Funkiness that’s still cool to this day (amazing it wasn’t issued as a 45). The equally hooky "Shady Lady" did turn up as the B-side to the non-album 45 of "Silly Sally" (A-side) on Atco 6818 in February 1971 (sadly not included here). The remaster on both cuts is superb – Richard Podolor’s Production values shining through (he worked with Three Dog Night and Steppenwolf). “Best Years Of Our Lives” is probably the best Rock track on the album – great guitars and clever rhythms that defy categorization even now. It's followed by an unexpected moment of prettiness – the acoustic "Slower Than Guns" which features a gorgeous vocal and beautifully arranged 12-string guitars (it’s a properly accomplished track and evocative too). Both "Stone Believer" and especially "Soldier In Our Town" sound like Three Dog Night writing their own songs and winning (and again really great transfers). The single "Easy Rider (Let The Wind Pay The Way)" was a modest chart hit in October 1970 on Atco 6782 by scraping 66 on the American charts (the excellent "Soldier In Our Town" was its B-side) where the band sounded like a slide-guitar Steppenwolf paired up with the son of Grand Funk Railroad. The album ends on the epic guitar and keyboard sleaze of "Butterfly Bleu" which chugs its way into 14 minutes. Sounding a little Zeppelin I and II in places in its chord chops and changes (there's a trippy centrepiece) – the amazing guitar work of Mike Pinera and Larry "El Rhino" Reinhardt hold centre-stage throughout (voice box used to amazing affect) while an impressive vocal by Ingle anchors the whole thing (weird voices and all). It’s genuinely wicked stuff and is superbly clear on the remaster...even when that wild bit in the middle threatens to get out of hand...

I had fully intended to hate this reissue with a vengeance but I've been thoroughly won over (especially by "Metamorphosis" which I'll admit I haven't played in decades). But not so - there's shockingly good stuff on here - a far better listen than I remembered. And with that stunning Audio on 'both' albums - this Beat Goes On CD Reissue for IRON BUTTERFLY is a must have for fans the world over...

This Box Set is featured along with many others in my SOUNDS GOOD Music Books Series available to purchase/lend on all Amazon sites. Go to the following link... 

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