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The Incredible String Band - The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion CD (album) cover


The Incredible String Band


Prog Folk

3.84 | 45 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars And what a difference one album makes: still the Heron/Williamson (but Palmer-less) team, the Boyd/Elektra connection, but 5000 Sprits is definitely the birth of acid folk with all the possible ramifications possible, including a completely freaked out artwork (done by a Dutch couple in vogue in London's Swinging Sixties), going even a bit pagan with the leafy (druid) duo's back cover pictures, this is a pure hippy product instead of a pure traditionalist album, which of course will enrage the purist corner still not forgiving Dylan's treachery of going electric. The duo is now coming out with a couple of guests, including Pentangle's bassist Danny Thompson and a girl called Licorice (who would move into their beds before securing a permanent spot in the band. The duo is also now multi-instrumentalists including percussion, flute and a bunch of Eastern string instruments (already present on the previous album), but were not exactly on friendly terms and apparently only agreed to a song from the other if they could arrange it. In some ways this cooperation seemed to work fine, although producer Joe Boyd remembers walking on hot coals and having lengthy negotiations.

Starting on the medieval-sounding Chinese White (where they approach Third Ear Band's soundscapes a few years later), and following with the phantasmagorical No Sleep Blues (my fave on the album) and its deep flutes and multi-layered guitars, we are light years away from their debut album, an album sprinkled with eastern spiritualism and Indian influence as the sitar and tale drums indicates. Yes a Mary Jane and LSD-induced trip, a nice mellow one. But one of the reason this is called acid-folk is partly due to the high- perched, almost squeaky voices .While there are groundbreaking songs (in its genre, the semi-lengthy First Girl I Loved), there are also a few of them where it just smells the hick's barn wrestling with his animals and the straw picking and string plucking gets mixed-up very easily (Hedgehog's Song).

An album that musically speaking was at least as important as the Beatles Sgt Pepper or The Nice's Thoughts, ISB's sophomore album is a good step forward but more and better is to come in further albums. An interesting album for progheads, but I wouldn't call this essential and I will refrain from adding a bit to the rating for an historically important album, but I can find 6 Pentangle albums I prefer to any ISB. .

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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