Iron Butterfly – Ball (review)

Iron Butterfly – Ball (Expanded Edition) (Real Gone / Atco) review

This lost classic shows off the band’s other sides

Iron Butterfly are remembered mostly for the “Iron” part of their name, thanks to their 17-minute magnum opus “In a Gadda Da Vida,” which became a surprise hit on AM radio, when edited down to 2:54. Yet, if you listen to the rest of that song’s parent album, you’ll find plenty of “Butterfly” moments as well – the band really did know how to write a good melody. Ball, the followup album, is arguably their most consistent release, and it’s just received the remastering treatment from Real Gone Music.

The album kicks off with eerie sound effects and feedback of the ominous “In the Time of Our Lives,” yet immediately switches gears for “Soul Experience,” which has a cool echoed guitar piece in the middle. “Lonely Boy” is a bona fide ballad, which features some decent singing from Doug Ingle.

“Filled With Fear” is fueled by a cascading bass line, while, despite the title, “Belda Beast” is downright buoyant, and could’ve been a hit, if it had been released as a single.

This deluxe edition version of the album also contains both sides of their next single – “I Can’t Help But Deceive You Girl” has a fantastic chorus that predicts “Vehicle” by Ides of March. Too bad the opening verse is so weak – this might’ve been another high point for the band if there was a little more focus. There’s also a decent essay that gives some background on the band’s brief moment in the spotlight.

The most notable aspect of Ball is the absence of any track over six minutes – they could’ve easily tried to repeat the success of “In a Gadda Da Vida,” but smartly chose to concentrate on songwriting instead. The result is a solid album, and a lost classic that deserves to be revisited. —Tony Peters