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The Incredible String Band

Prog Folk

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The Incredible String Band No Ruinous Feud album cover
2.27 | 7 ratings | 1 reviews | 17% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Explorer (3:20)
2. Down Before Cathay (4:17)
3. Saturday Maybe (2:43)
4. Jigs (2:49)
5. Old Buccaneer (3:23)
6. At the Lighthouse Dance (3:30)
7. Second Fiddle (2:23)
8. Circus Girl (2:30)
9. Turquoise Blue (3:59)
10. My Blue Tears (2:00)
11. Weather the Storm (3:02)
12. Little Girl (4:21)

Total time: 38:17

Line-up / Musicians

- Robin Williamson /
- Mike Heron /
- Malcolm Le Maistre /
- Gerard Dott /

Note: The actual instrumentation could not be confirmed at this moment

Releases information

Artwork: Eckford/Stimpson

LP Island Records ‎- ILPS 9229 (1973, UK)
LP Reprise MS 2139 (1973) US
LP Island 86684 IT (1973) GER
LP Island 86684-1 (1973) Spain
LP Island ILPS 9229 (1973) DK
LP Island IL-34832 (1973) Australia/NZ
LP Island ILPS 9229 South Africa

CD Edsel Records ‎- EDCD36 (1993, UK)
CD BGO (2004) w/Earthspan

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND No Ruinous Feud ratings distribution

(7 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(0%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (67%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
2 stars The end was very near for the Incredible String Band by this point, as evidenced by the sad, uninspired and weak 'Earthspan' released a year prior. They would crank out one more ('Hard Rope and Silken Twine') a year later, but honestly the demise was all but acknowledged for ISB by 1971, and possibly even before that.

This album is bookended by 'Earthspan' and 'Hard Rope' and while both of those retain some of the band's trademark sound (albeit delivered in a tired-sounding way), this one appears to have been a modest attempt at shifting their focus to something a little more commercially palatable, no doubt thanks to pressure from their label and also no doubt driven to execution by Mike Heron whose brand can be felt all over the record.

There are some curios here, such as the Dolly Parton cover "My Blue Tears" from her 1971 album 'Coat of Many Colors' which to my knowledge was never even released in Great Britain at the time. There was something of a brief interest in American country music by many rock bands in the late sixties and early seventies, most notably the Byrds' 1968 release 'Sweetheart of the Rodeo' and the Rolling Stones 'Exile on Main St.', so its not inconceivable that a British acid folk band might decide to take on a country song. Still, the choice is odd and the timing very strange given that the label of country-rock had already been claimed by the likes of the Eagles and Poco at this point, and frankly the folk/country connection was in steep decline by 1973. "Turquoise Blue" is also credited to Parton but I don't personally know anything about that song so I can't comment other than to say it sounds more jazzy than country.

Elsewhere the band has shifted to a decidedly more commercial rock sound, although Williamson was incapable of changing much so his flute and off-kilter vocals continued to permeate the band's music. The opening "Explorer" sets the tone with a rolling drum roll and conventional rhythm arranged by Heron, while Williamson does his best to work within what he must have seen as unpleasant constraints. The song reminds me of a lot of aging prog rockers later in the decade as they tried similar tactics to meld their trademark sounds with contemporary rock and pop while the music industry passed them by (see the studio releases of the Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Genesis, King Crimson and ELP circa 1979-1984 for several examples). "Old Buccaneer", "At the Lighthouse Dance" and to a certain extent "Second Fiddle" all fall into this category, the latter being particularly weird thanks to a calypso theme that drives the instrumental piece.

Things do get better with "Down Before Cathay" and "Saturday Maybe", both much more in the ISB vein but still not nearly as eccentric as anything they released prior to Woodstock. At least the overall mood is slightly more upbeat than what 'Hard Rope and Silken Twine' would come across as a year later.

The closest thing to a traditional ISB song comes with the Williamson-penned "Circus Girl" thanks to almost nonsensical lyrics, a jaunty and unconventional tempo and a cameo disjointed arrangement; but by this time the magic of the band was long gone and the effort seems more like nostalgia than a creative effort.

This is a rather lackluster album, not in the way 'Earthspan' was with its depressing mood but more in that the band seemed to be struggling to recapture a sense of relevance and not succeeding very well. Perhaps my opinion is tainted by the fact I discovered this record years after its release rather than as a natural progression of evolving with the band back in their heyday. Still, today is where we are and this album didn't age well, assuming it was ever all that good to begin with. I doubt many modern prog folk fans will find much that's appealing here, and so I'm left to dub it a two (out of five) star effort and to move on to something else. Recommended only to hardcore older fans (sorry).


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