In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida


Band: Iron Butterfly
Album: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Best song: Come on.
Worst song: Really? The whole album kind of stinks, save for the title track.

I’m a pretty big sports fan. The Blackhawk Stanley Cup victory was one of the highlights of 2010 for me, as the Hawks are the first team for which I’ve ever rooted.

Which would say that, like most of the world, I’ve spent the last month or so watching the World Cup. Soccer isn’t my favorite sport; I prefer baseball and hockey over any other sports. Nevertheless, I’ve attended a soccer game in Italy and played in a soccer rec league off and on my whole life. I follow my family’s ancestral home’s team in Italy.

So, like so many sporting fans, I’ve watched as many of these games as possible.

Not necessarily that early a memory, but the 1994 World Cup was played in the U.S., including a bunch of games in Chicago’s Soldier Field. I was an adolescent at the time and a rabid baseball fan. Nevertheless, my sister was a soccer player at the time and my family is of Italian heritage, so the World Cup is always a big deal.

So, we got into the Italian team at the time, especially considering the U.S. team wasn’t much of anything that year. So, I followed the Italan team, as the Azzurri barely got out of the group stage. But, the classic Italian way prevailed, with the team riding its superlative defense to the final game. My grandmother and a bunch of the rest of my family watched the final game with serious anticipation, only to see them lose to the Brazilians. However, it made me fall in love with the Italian team, for all its blemishes.

This year, I’ve watched every Italy game and every U.S. game. I don’t feel great about rooting for two teams, but so it goes. The U.S. team reinforces something I’ve never understood about international football: How is population not a bigger factor in international sport?

The U.S. has the largest population of all the nations in the tournament. Forget that the U.S. is the richest country in the world with the largest sporting history and such. There are over 300 million people in the U.S. You’re telling me that we couldn’t beat a nation like Slovenia? There are two and a half million Slovenians. That’s the size of the Milwaukee Metro area.

I’ll never understand that.

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is both a joke and a milestone. As an album, it’s pretty silly, as the title track takes up the entire second side with seventeen minutes of one-riff goofiness. On the other hand, it’s a record that, along with Steppenwolf, Jimi Hendrix and others, seemed to turn rock and roll into American metal. While Led Zeppelin, Cream and Black Sabbath were blending blues into psychedelic rock, the Americans were doing the same.

Indeed, the title track is a powerful riff backed by a mirroring organ. With Doug Ingle’s growling vocals, the song became a completely indecipherable mess, but a rock classic.

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