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The Incredible String Band

Prog Folk

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The Incredible String Band Liquid Acrobat As Regards The Air album cover
3.08 | 18 ratings | 3 reviews | 11% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Talking Of The End (5:31)
2. Dear Old Battlefield (3:08)
3. Cosmic Boy (3:51)
4. Worlds They Rise And Fall (3:28)
5. Evolution Rag (4:44)
6. Painted Chariot (3:45)
7. Adam And Eve (2:33)
8. Red Hair (2:10)
9. Here Till Here Is There (3:07)
10. Tree (3:00)
11. Jigs & Reels (2:44) :
- Eyes Like Leaves
- Sunday Is My Wedding Day
- Drops Of Whiskey
- Grumbling Old Men
12. Darling Belle (10:54)

Total time 48:55

Line-up / Musicians

- Robin Williamson / violin, oud, whistle, cymbal, guitar (2,7,12), violin, (4,11), cello (4,8), mandolin (5,10), oboe (4,6,12), kazoo (5), bass (6), percussion (7), bass recorder (9), flute & banjo & string arrangements (12), lead vocals (1,7)
- Mike Heron / sitar (1), guitar (2,4,6,8), organ (1,5,11), piano (3,4,8,10,12), harmonium (4,8), electric piano (7), flute (9), bass (4,11,12), lead vocals (6)
- Christina "Licorice" McKechnie / organ (1,2,6), harmonium (1), hand drum (1), bass (5), kazoo (5), percussion (7), pipe organ (8), tambourine (10), spoons (11), autoharp (11), vocals
- Malcolm Le Maistre / harpsichord (1), hand drum (1), bass (2), whistle (5,7,11), kazoo (5), percussion (5), mandolin (6,11), tenor recorder (9), bouzouki (10), glockenspiel & harmonica & clarinet & church organ (12), vocals

- Stan Lee / pedal steel guitar (1), bass (7)
- Gerry Conway / drums (2,6,7)

Releases information

Artwork: Janet Shankman-Williamson

LP Island Records ‎- ILPS 9172 (1971, UK)

CD Sepia Tone ‎- STONE 09 (2002, US) Remastered (?)

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND Liquid Acrobat As Regards The Air Music

THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND Liquid Acrobat As Regards The Air ratings distribution

(18 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(28%)
Good, but non-essential (50%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND Liquid Acrobat As Regards The Air reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars After 68's double album WT&TBH, the lone 69's Changing Horses, ISB put out three albums in 70, including a double, and put out another two albums in 71. Such furious publishing pace could only affect the quality of the output, and in some case, the albums are fairly week. While I chose to skip a few albums, I went straight for Liquid Acrobat, which sits as their tenth album altogether and their second tor their new label Island, and if I chose this particular album, it's the last one I heard, but also the last to have hit the charts. The least we can say is that ISB is a different group that a few years before, With third singer and multi-instrumentalist Malcolm Le Maistre now fully installed in the group, the group invited on drums Gerry Conway for half the tracks and Stan Lee to twiddle strings on two tracks, but what strikes on this album is the amount and diversity of the instrument played.

Opening on the Arabian-sounding Talking Off The End, ISB strikes very hard in mixing ouds and sitars with Gregorian chants into mid-eastern ambiances. With that and the ensuing Dear Old Battlefield, ISB is writing better-than-ever song, which are becoming quite interesting for progheads (perhaps more so than the epics of the heydays) and to further the point, Le Maistre's vocals can sound dangerously close to Peter Gabriel, especially so in the excellent Painted Chariot, which as close to a full-blown prog track as they will write. We get the same feel with Red Hair, but there it's more than just the vocals that has us dreaming, while the closing Darling Belle you get again closer to rock mainstream, but with plenty of folk flavours.

Other songs like Cosmic Boy or Evolution Rag go back to the early days of the group, but by now, the formula has worn thin and most of the attention is for the more intricate songwriting like the ones mentioned previously With a good smile, the reggae-ish Adam & Eve (after all they are in Island records) and the Jig & Reels suite, you'll also get a small enjoyment.

If this album was indeed superior to most of theur later works, it was also the last one to hit the charts, something they owed Islands after their terrible label debut, Be Glad For The Song Has No Ending,; which was the soundtrack to their lengthy interminable (and awful) film of the same name and had turned off many

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars Considering the number of years and releases between "Hangman's.." and "Liquid Acrobat", not much has changed in the ISB camp. Some more trademark early 1970s keyboards are creeping in, and the songs have some tighter yet more progressive structures. Yet ultimately the improvement is of minimal significance.

It's true that "Dear Old Battlefield" and "Red Hair" both show a more mature songwriting style, and the cello and pipe organ on the latter really notch it up. But sometimes the keys are just deployed to enhance a honky tonk atmosphere as in "Evolution Rag". It might have worked on a quick 1 or 2 minute interlude, but at 4:12 it's an interminable insult. "Painted Chariot", like so many ISB tunes, starts off promisingly, and, like so many ISB tunes, unravels dramatically. Usually they dissolve in silliness but here the undoing is a hard rock outro with punishing stabs on the organ. More pretentious philosophizing mars the pretty Licorice flavoured vocals on "Here till Here is there". "Jigs" shows that ISB was listening to what some of their contemporaries were doing, and works reasonably well for what it is. A couple of minutes of trad instrumental is quite sufficient.

These were the heydays for long prog suites, but "Darling Belle" is just an extended twee ISB song that could have been improved had they listened to STRAWBS ("Antique Suite") or even MAGNA CARTA ("Seasons") first, both of which appeared the year before. In the meantime, by now ISB had been surpassed by at least one imitator that put the music first and the psychedelia second, and that would be FOREST. I would seek out any of the aforementioned first. In the dubious search for the defining ISB album, I find the liquid acrobat to be another unbalanced effort.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars As far as I’m concerned this is the last studio release that qualifies as a true ISB album, and not coincidently the last one that is actually interesting as well. While the captivating Rose Simpson is gone, the rest of the core group remains and vocalist Malcolm Le Maistre (who would remain until the group disbanded) has been added. The upside here is that Le Maistre brought some variety to the group at a time when their collective creativity was starting to wane and his fledgling steps as an instrumental musician can be heard here in addition to his singing. The downside is that the band is left to rely completely on the increasingly odd McKechnie for the female vocal parts, and her often awkward singing doesn’t do much for the album as a whole.

The band seems to have gone electric as well with guitar, organ and even Heron’s piano getting plugged in to augment, and often dominate, the various stringed and woodwind acoustic instruments. This isn’t exactly a watershed though, as the meandering progressive compositions from Williamson and the mildly rocking Heron compositions don’t really emphasize the powered instruments anyway; but it is a noticeable change.

Aside from these differences the album offers mostly more of the same in terms of composition and acid folk lyrics. Heron’s “Words They Rise and Fall” is one of my favorite tracks, although it veers dangerously close to soft rock at times. Williamson is as off-beat as ever with the almost vaudevillian “Evolution Rag” and the meditative “Here Till Here is There” being the most characteristic songs for him. McKechnie earns songwriting credits for the mostly forgettable “Cosmic Boy”, which seems to have been included solely as a vehicle for her singing. And the whole band gets into the act with a wide range of instrumental forays on the expansive closing number “Darling Belle” that, as with so many of the group’s albums, provides not only filler but a lengthy closing to an record consisting otherwise of mostly short tracks.

This was reportedly the band’s most commercially successful album, a tribute more to timing than quality I’m sure. Coming off the stage show-centered ‘U’ and film-inspired ‘This Damn Thing Just Won’t End’ albums, the band was still enough of a draw (and their name in front of the limelight just enough) to garner decent sales despite rapidly changing tastes and an aging hippy fan base. Alas, things were about to change, with McKechnie getting ready to wander off into the California desert and the rest of the band about to begin their slow and tedious descent into oblivion.

For the moment though they could still put together something quite good if not exceptional, and the songs on this album hold up reasonably well after nearly forty years, so some acknowledgement is due them for that. Three stars seems to be what I’ve ended up rating most of their albums, but ‘good’ is a fairly broad range and this one teeters toward the leeward end of that range. Recommended to fans of the genre, but with a caution that any of their 1967-1969 albums would be a better place to start if you aren’t already familiar with their music.


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