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The Incredible String Band

Prog Folk

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The Incredible String Band Hard Rope And Silken Twine album cover
2.24 | 13 ratings | 2 reviews | 25% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Maker Of Islands (6:05)
2. Cold February (5:50)
3. Glancing Love (4:04)
4. Dreams Of No Return (5:24)
5. Dumb Kate (3:25)
6. Ithkos (19:22)

Total time 44:10

Line-up / Musicians

- Malcolm Le Maistre / vocals
- Robin Williamson / acoustic guitar, oud, mandolin, electric violin, flutes, whistle, congas, vocals
- Mike Heron / acoustic & electric guitars, sitar, organ, piano, vocals, producer
- Graham Forbes / electric guitar
- Stan Lee / bass, pedal steel guitar, Moog programming, vocals
- Jack Ingram / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Wayne Anderson

LP Island Records ‎- ILPS 9270 (1974, UK)

CD Edsel Records ‎- EDCD368 (1994, UK)
CD BGO Records ‎- BGOCD1093 (2013, UK) Remastered

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND Hard Rope And Silken Twine ratings distribution

(13 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(8%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (50%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND Hard Rope And Silken Twine reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars An album of varying contrasts from the sublime finisher of Ithkos with it's endearing progressive style and conceptual feel to unfortunately the well under par ' Dumb Kate'. If you are an ISB afficianado then this will rank as not one of their greater albums but the intention to make good is all there but I somehow feel the creative spark was beginning to wane by the time they released this 1974 album. Mike Heron's for me the key influencer on ' Hard Rope And Silken Twine'. Two and a half stars would be a fair assessment for this album but I would recommend listeners look out for earlier works like ' The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter' for a more solid investment in the ISB sound. Other song highlights would be ' Cold February' and ' Glancing Love'
Review by ClemofNazareth
2 stars Listening to this album reinforces for me the fact that this band was decidedly un-incredible by the time they finally petered out in the mid seventies. Not only had their style of Celtic-leaning acid folk become rather passť by this time, but the band themselves had become something of an anachronism; they managed to hang on to many of the devoted few faithful fans, but certainly weren’t attracting any new ones by this time. Rose Simpson and Licorice McKechnie had long since moved on, and both Heron and Williamson appear to have lost any real enthusiasm for the kind of primitive experimentation that made many of their earlier albums so intriguing.

Instead, the two offer up the glossy, orchestral “Maker of Islands” and the lethargic “Glancing Love”, along with the throwaway jig “Dumb Kate” that wouldn’t have made it past the studio cutting room floor just a few years earlier.

There are three songs worthy of any mention on this album, although none of them belongs on any ‘Best of’ compilation. First, a live version of “Cold February” retains some of the earthy and timeless spirit of the band’s early works with plaintive organ, flute and Williamson’s distinctive vocals making for a passable, though not exceptional, tune in the true vein of what attracted fans to the band in the first place. “Dreams of No Return” combines sitar, pedal steel and mandolin for an appealing acid folk number, but unfortunately the song misses its market by about three or four years at least.

Finally, the opus on the album comes with the closing track, a Heron-penned number titled simply “Ithkos”. This twenty-minute dirge travels an awful lot of ground from Celtic folk to hard rock to blues to delicate acid folk. But it rambles on far too long really, and focus seems lacking for much of the composition. I can imagine this would have gone over well in a live setting with an audience perched on blankets and suitably stimulated, but in the cold light of day and thirty years hence it fails to capture my imagination, and comes across as more of a requiem of a once-great musical force.

I’m glad to have this in my collection simply because it allows me to listen to the entire spectrum of the band’s evolution, from the early self-titled and highly inspired 1966 debut with Clive Palmer, to the whimper of an exit in the face of a changing world and changing tastes. The band did the right thing to call it quits after its release.

I can’t recommend this to anyone except possibly fans of the band, and those who remained faithful to the end probably already have a tattered vinyl copy. Two stars is the right call, and if I were to recommend anything it would be to check out the band in their prime, circa the period leading up to their poor showing at Woodstock but probably not so much after that. Check out any of those if you want to hear what the Incredible String Band was capable of, but this one won’t give you that.


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