Monday, January 16, 2006

Guilty Pleasures (Music)

I own thousands of CD's, and still have a couple of thousand albums on vinyl that I suspect will never see CD release. Still, there are some albums that captivate me just as much now as they did the first time I heard them. One of those albums is Iron Butterfly's Ball. Yeah, I know--most people don't even realize that Iron Butterfly did anything other than In-a-Gadda-da-Vida. But for me, Ball is the pinnacle of their musical career. The album is bold, experimental, and semi-psychedelic, with some tonal experiments interspersed. At the time, the album was considered pretty heavy in its sound--but unlike today's pretentious angry heavy-metal sound, the lyrics were for the most part introspective and sensitive. "This Boy" remains a personal favorite, along with "It Must Be Love." The most haunting songs on the album, though, are "In the Times of Our Lives" and the manic, almost nightmarish "Filled With Fear." Every time I hear this album, it makes me wish that this Iron Butterfly line-up had stayed together far longer; alas, the only two albums they did were this one and the aforementioned In-a-Gadda-da-Vida. There are other Iron Butterfly albums, to be sure, but the roster is different on those. Heavy comes close to the sound at times, but the absence of Erik Braunn really hurts. Metamorphosis never quite clicks; the organ is different, the guitar is more traditional, and the ethereal quality of the soaring sound is gone. But oh, what a treat this one album is!...

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