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The Incredible String Band - The Incredible String Band CD (album) cover


The Incredible String Band


Prog Folk

3.23 | 32 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars One of the true pioneers in the British psychedelic folk scene was THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND that developed from a mutual interest of folk music between the two founding members Robin Williamson and Clive Palmer in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1963. After a couple of years playing as a duo they met Mike Heron in 65 and quickly gelled into their new group and got snatched up by Transatlantic Records. Right from the start the trio were catching the attention of even big stars like Bob Dylan with their unique take on the mix of English folk, Woodie Guthrie styled narrations and local Scottish influences. While the band would expand on the second slicker album "The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion" and beyond, this eponymous debut is the only album to feature the original founding trio as Clive Palmer would soon take a sojourn to India and opt not to reunite with the others as they were becoming more and more successful.

As only a trio, the music is much more roots oriented on album number one and not nearly as psychedelic and experimental as what would soon blossom as the band got more comfortable expanding beyond their influences. Despite a mere threesome, this album has a wealth of instrumentation as the musicians were all very skilled and comfortable on many a noise making devices. It's a fairly diverse sounding album as there are many styles, tempos, dynamics and all three members shared lead vocal duties. Mike Heron played guitar only but Clive Palmer contributes not only guitar but banjo and kazoo. After leaving the group he would record a banjo based album ("Banjoland" in 67) that wouldn't be released until 2005. Robin Williamson also plays guitar but also fiddle, violin mandolin and tin whistle. The instruments appear on different songs and create an interesting contrast between styles.

While the psych crowds may find this one a tad ho hum, as a straight forward folk album with a diverse palette of influences, album number one is actually a very pleasant listen with catchy acoustic folk songs jumping all around the folk spectrum with an authentic roots music feel with nice narrative lyrics about everyday life but the flirtations with the psychedelic scene were taking root at this stage with the inclusion of a surreal tale of a magic blackbird and accompanying unconventional vocal styles and mixings of sounds. The album found two different album covers for the UK and US and wasn't particularly successful. While a few tunes were traditionals, the majority of tunes were written by the three members. After this debut album the band would officially split up but Williamson and Heron would reform the band add a few more members and seriously up the sophistication of the style and progressiveness. While this debut can't really compete with the albums that follow, THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND is a fine debut release that shows the band's transition from pure roots to create mixings of those styles.

3.5 rounded up

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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