The craziest thing we learned in our shootout is that something close to half of all the yellow label, authentic, non-record-club Atco copies we played had clearly been mastered from a dub tape on side two, the side with In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.
We’re guessing that at some point after 1968, when it came time to recut the record, the cutting master for side two was either damaged or couldn’t be found. Not a problem the label says to itself, we have a safety tape we can copy and use for side two.
Problem solved, except for the fact that on those copies In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida sounds like a cassette playing on a machine with worn out heads. The sound is smeary, veiled, small and recessed — all but unlistenable.
That was a shock, but the other shock we experienced was much more to our liking: hearing that the sound of the best copies is actually surprisingly good.
Most Anything You Want
Flowers and Beads
Are You Happy
With its endless, droning minor-key riff and mumbled vocals, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” is arguably the most notorious song of the acid rock era. According to legend, the group was so stoned when they recorded the track that they could neither pronounce the title “In the Garden of Eden” or end the track, so it rambles on for a full 17 minutes, which to some listeners sounds like eternity.
But that’s the essence of its appeal — it’s the epitome of heavy psychedelic excess, encapsulating the most indulgent tendencies of the era.