Have you ever heard a band that had a sound, but didn't know what they wanted to do with it? That they know how they presented themselves but not what they were going to do with that presentation? That's what listening to In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is like. The whole album is this bizarre mashup of Psychedelic Rock and Contemporary Pop music of the time, like some odd time capsule where someone got The Grateful Dead and Cliff Richard mixed up in a blender and just decided it was worth keeping around as a curiosity.
The songs all follow the same basic Rhythm and Blues structure, but don't go anywhere with it. Many of the tracks on this album feel like they were written by one person, while the lyrics were written in complete isolation from the rest. I should however point out that sometimes, that can work, but these guys weren't on the same wavelength at all.
There's some proficient and technical playing, particularly from the Guitar and Hammond Organ. They do a lot of work to keep the songs from being bogged down in their fixed structures, and it does feel like they wanted to expand on the instrumentation in a few key songs, particularly My Mirage and Termination, but were held back by the physical limitations of Vinyl. So you'd think that when you get to the titular song, a legendary 17 minute freak out of old, that they'd bring their best chops.
Unfortunately what we end up with is more of the same. The refrain, to it's credit, is remarkably dark and intense, however once again there's more of the same repetition, and when we finally dig into the instrumental sections, the Organ brings some great licks to the table, only for the song to become dominated by the Guitarist. By the time there's space for the Drum Solo I was so bored of the song that I'd zoned out a little, and almost forgot what song I was listening to by the time the final part of the song built back up.
I'd love to be able to like this album, my basic idea with this was to listen to music outside of my own comfort zone and I don't want to hate any of it really. The fact of the matter is there's no real substance here, at least for me.
I wish I could recommend picking it up for Record Store Day, but I think if you're going for Psychedelic Music you can certainly do better. Go buy Piper At The Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd instead.
See you again next week when we tackle #19: Appetite for Destruction by Guns and Roses