The heavy, psychedelic acid rock of Iron Butterfly may seem dated to some today, but the group was one of the first hard rock bands to receive extensive radio airplay, and their best-known song, the 17-minute epic “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” established that more extended compositions were viable entries in the radio marketplace, paving the way for progressive AOR. The track was written by vocalist, organist, and bandleader Doug Ingle, who formed the first incarnation of Iron Butterfly in 1966 in San Diego with drummer Ron Bushy. After the group moved to Los Angeles and played the club scene, it secured a recording contract and got national exposure through tours with the Doors and Jefferson Airplane. Following the release of their 1968 debut album, Heavy, original members Jerry Penrod (bass), Darryl DeLoach (vocals), and Danny Weis (guitar) left the band and were replaced by guitarist Erik Braunn and bassist Lee Dorman. Weis went on to join Rhinoceros. The new lineup recorded In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida later that year, which sold four million copies and spent over a year in the Top Ten. (The title has been translated as “in the garden of Eden” or “in the garden of life.”) A shortened version of the title track, which contained extended instrumental passages with loud guitars and classical/Eastern-influenced organ, plus a two-and-a-half-minute drum solo, reached number 30 on the singles charts. The follow-up, Ball, showed greater musical variety and went gold, but it also marked the beginning of the band’s decline. Braunn left the group and was replaced by guitarists Mike Pinera and Larry “Rhino” Reinhardt, but the group’s success was largely over. Iron Butterfly broke up in 1971; Braunn and Bushy re-formed the group in the mid-’70s without success.
It’s always a thrill going through hundreds of songs for a new album. Listening to material from Johnny Burnett to Delbert McClinton and Doris Day to Johnny Ray, I hope you like the final choice as much as I had choosing and recording them. Many thanks to my Band, Norman, John, Paul, Lenni, Dave and Damian and special thanks to Miller Anderson, The Chanter Sisters and my friend Leigh Blonde from Holland for their contributions. Also very special thanks to Van Morrison for writing and singing with me on ‘Sitting on Top of the World’. Not forgetting Adrian and Pam for all things web, Trevor for looking after the shop, Kris my manager and Kenny for the production, Ziggy for non-stop coffee, Renate Wagner for Ziggy, Fritz Lang for the beers, Judith Lanzendorf for the cheesecake, Mike Durschimdt for the tours, my fans and of course my Mum who without her, all this would not be possible.Can’t wait to do the next album.
Chris Farlowe February 2003
Melting Pot could be the most well-realized of all the albums by Booker T. & the M.G.’s, a smooth and soulful, yet expansive 35 minutes of all originals, the latter in sharp contrast to their exploration of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album material on their preceding album. And the irony was that it was their swan song. Booker T. Jones, in particular, was increasingly unhappy working at Stax/Volt Records, owing his feelings to management and structural changes at the company, and also felt the need to change the group’s formula somewhat. Steve Cropper was playing lots of session work that was keeping him from recording in Memphis as well, and the result was an album recorded mostly in New York City, far away from Stax/Volt and largely built on the group’s (especially Jones’) best impulses. That said, Melting Pot managed to be a sort of back-to-the-roots effort in the sense that they were back to doing originals, but was also a strikingly more expansive record, with Jones in particular playing with an almost demonic intensity and range, backed ably by Donald “Duck” Dunn’s rocksteady bass in particular. There were a few other touches, such as the wordless chorus on “Kinda Easy Like” and extended running times, showing the group stretching out on much larger musical canvases.
Meshugga Beach Party brings together many favorite Jewish melodies with the fun, retro-cool sounds of surf music. The band puts on an exciting, high energy live show – dressed like rabbis, synchronized dance moves, the “dead joke scrolls” – it’s surfin’ shtick at its finest. The band features guitars, piano, organ, bass and drums, and the occasional holler for good measure.
Meshugga Beach Party has been playing around the Bay Area since 2003, appearing in places as varied as Jewish heritage festivals, local traditions like Bay to Breakers, and hipster havens like Lebowski Fest, Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge and the Hubba Hubba Burlesque Revue. Live performances of the band have also been a hit on the web, with their “Hava Nagila /Misirlou” clip garnering over 500,000 viewings on sites like YouTube and Yahoo video.
In 2010, the band were competitors in the Portland semi-finals of America’s Got Talent, and in 2011, the group recorded an original song with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Duane Eddy. You never know where you’ll be seeing these meshuggeners next!