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Iron Butterfly - 1975 Scorching Beauty

ARTIST: Iron Butterfly
ALBUM: Scorching Beauty
YEAR: 1975
CD REISSUE: 1995, Repertoire (REP 4558-WY)


LINEUP: Eric Brann - vocals, guitars * Howard Reitzes - keyboards * Phil Taylor Kramer - bass * Ron Bushy - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 1975 Overture * 02 Hard Miseree * 03 High On A Mountain Top * 04 Am I Down * 05 People Of The World * 06 Searchin' Circles * 07 Pearly Gates * 08 Lonely Hearts * 09 Before You Go


From the tranquil and temperate climes of suburban San Diego, California came one of the 1960's most memorable heavy rock bands- Iron Butterfly. Yes, the same band that brought you the proto-progressive classic 'In-A Gadda-Da-Vida' and in turn opening the flood gates for overly long and unnecessary drum solos for decades to come, Iron Butterfly can never be accused of taking a minimalist approach to their music. Still, despite selling millions of records, a few of them quite good, that distortion drenched 17 minute epic would be something of an albatross around their creative necks. Over the years, several line-up changes would plague the band, finally splitting in 1971 only to reform lead by two original members Ron Bushy and Eric Brann in 1974 and signing to MCA releasing two albums, the best of which is 'Scorching Beauty'.

The Songs
Now when I said 'the best', I chose the lesser of two evils. This album is something of a disaster in my opinion. Let's face it, Iron Butterfly always had art rock and all things 'prog' in their blood, yet in the mid-70's progressive rock was on the down swing and the opening track '1975 Overture' is a good example why. Here the keyboards sound like Scottish bag-pipes with a driving beat that really goes nowhere fast. Kind of like Slade on downers after listening to way too much ELP, but 'High On A Mountain Top' does have some redeeming qualities. It's a nice slow bluesy number with guitar work straight out of the Nazareth songbook. 'Pearly Gates' co-written by Jon Anderson of Yes fame does have something of a Yes vibration, but the vocals as with most Iron Butterfly product just do not do the song justice. I wonder what it would have sounded like if Yes had decided to do something with it? The closing two tracks 'Lonely Hearts' and 'Before You Go' are nothing to write home about although the later does feature some nice guitar work, but not enough to make me want to play it, or the album again unfortunately.

In Summary
Still relatively popular at the time, Iron Butterfly hit the road in support of 'Scorching Beauty' with a triumphant 'homecoming' concert at the San Diego Sports Arena supported by none other than Journey. The second MCA album 'Sun And Steel' produced by John Ryan (Styx) was more of a hard rock affair and did little to bolster the bands image or career. Oh well. These days Iron Butterfly are hitting the oldies circuit where I am sure 'In-A Gadda-Da-Vida' still goes down a storm at county fairs and ballrooms everywhere.

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#1 | Eric on March 13 2012 02:52:14
Been listening to this one a few times this past weekend along with 'Sun and Steel'. Warming to the record a bit more since I wrote the above. Still inconsistent, but worthwhile.
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