I wrote not too long back (perhaps somewhat misguidedly) about how AM radio play lists were dictated by guidelines set by the record company moguls, but I’ll stick by my comment that the length of a pop song in the 60s was limited to what was perceived as commercially viable: anything over 3 minutes was pushing the limits. And then, towards the end of the 60s, there came various musical innovations that pushed these limits.
One of the first that comes to mind is the extended drum solo perpetrated by Ginger Baker on “Fresh Cream” – “Toad”. It didn’t achieve commercial success. At about the same time, however, Iron Butterfly managed commercial success with a similarly lengthy song entitled “In a Gadda Da Vida”, pushing the limits of endurance at 17 minutes: way over the AM playlist time slots. However, this song was a commercial success, and so some formula had to be found to accommodate public clamor. The result was a short alternative version that could fit the AM radio format: my alternative version post.
The song is legacy enough that various other bands have revisited it with success, and I am including some of their alternative versions below in addition to the originals.
short play version
long play version
Blind Guardian version