Record Revisit: Iron Butterfly’s “Heavy”

Here at Psychosparkle, we are all about sharing our toys. Whether it’s a deep cut, experimental album, or commercial success, we say if it makes you feel good, spread the love! This led me to create a new featured series on the blog, Record Revisit, highlighting the music we turn back to enjoy again and again. In this installment, I bring to you Heavy by Iron Butterfly. I discovered the band when I was 16 and first venturing into the world of 60’s and 70’s classic rock/psychedelia. This genre had a huge impact on my music taste, and I would certainly include Iron Butterfly on the list of stuff I just couldn’t get enough of. As the temperature drops, memories of the album began to flood my mind. I think it would be the perfect soundtrack to a picnic under a tree with amber leaves drifting past. And wine. Don’t forget the red wine.

iron butterfly

Iron Butterfly was formed in San Diego, CA in 1966 (via Fuzz, Acid, Flowers). Doug Ingle took on the role of composer and vocalist, with Ron Bushy on drums, Lee Dorman on bass, guitarist Danny Weiss, and fellow vocalist and tambourine player Darryl Deloach completing the lineup.Their debut, Heavy, was released on 60’s label Atco in 1968. Touring spots with Jefferson Airplane and The Doors gained the group fans all over the country. A few tracks on the album are raw production wise, and based around a single guitar lick. I think this represents the cultural movements of the time: People were flooding the world with new ideas and with such passion, often there was no time or desire to work out the details. Iron Butterfly would go on to have a major influence of hard rock and psychedelic music. (via Allmusic)

Track by Track

Possession – The album’s opener asks listeners, “When a man has a woman/ And he doesn’t really love her/ Why does he burn inside/ When she starts to love another?”, before Ingle decides, “It’s possession!” I have always wondered if this is supposed to mean that said man wants to have ownership of the woman, or if he is being involuntarily taken over by some outside force. Maybe it’s both. The organs offer a haunting accompaniment.

Unconscious Power – Perhaps the possible force of the previous song was actually coming from the inside: from the unconscious mind. The lyrics explain that by becoming more aware of their inner experience, humans can access power in the form of knowledge. It comes off as an upbeat, gospel-like celebration of the spiritual revolution the hippies helped to start.

Get Out My Life, Woman – This jam was first written by New Orleans R & B musician Allen Toussaint. While Iron Butterfly’s version lacks the horn of the original, it maintains the blues vibe.

Gentle As It May Seem – This short poppy number features Darryl Deloach, on vocals and tambourine beckoning, “Come here woman”.

You Can’t Win – A psych rock slugger telling the tale of steel doors that prevent one from winning.

So-Lo – This song was ahead of it’s time, and stylistically could be compared to The Beach Boys. I love the way the fun organ bits and guitar licks go back and forth and dance with one another.

Look For the Sun – A comforting tune that had a three part vocal effort by Penrod, Deloach and Ingle.”Oh, when you are blue, / there’s that sunshine especially for you”, the three croon.

Fields of Sun – Arguably one of the best works on the album. This ode to the beauties of nature defines the bands sound on their debut. It’s the type of song that makes you thankful to be alive, and the spooky riffs between singing offer an interesting juxtaposition.

Stamped Ideas – “You stay away from people made from plastic in a mold/ And keep your stamped ideas inside your head untold”, Deloach notes in this toe-tapper.

Iron Butterfly Theme – The release finishes with an instrumental track that is a fan favorite. It’s sexy, a little creepy, and beckons you to follow the band into their world. The breakdown in the middle could make you freeze in your tracks. With the distorted guitars building off of the repetitive organ, this was so much different that what was popular at the time and really innovative.

Ingle and Bushy would be the only remaining members after the release of Heavy. The act’s lineup seemed ever-changing over the years as they toured and released 5 more studio albums, the last being Sun and Steel in 1975 (via Allmusic). On Black Friday 2014, a limited edition vinyl of Heavy (mono) was re-released on Rhino Entertainment. The newest lineup of the band will be touring this fall in the north-east US. (via Allmusic)

What do you think of this album? What records do you find yourself re-visiting? Comment below!

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