Pink Floyd and The Incredible String Band.
The Incredible String Band.
Track 6 on Side 2, the penultimate track on the LP, is a truly magnificent Mike Heron composition called “Gently Tender”. For two or three years at the beginning of this century I was a keen and active member of the ISB fanzine site on the Web, and this was one of the most discussed songs thereon, largely because of the last word of the chorus. This is a most haunting refrain, one of the most beautiful and delicate bits of music I have ever heard, and the lyrics thereof go like this:
“And now, all my wine is water; to her, all my wine is water; and my pearls are …”
That final word on the record sounds like “clear”, but this is a function of the remains of Mike’s Scottish brogue. The actual word is “clay”.
This really is a great song, arguably the best on the album; it is extremely pleasant to listen to. Mike takes the lead vocal and plays guitar, Robin supplies backing vocals (as does Licorice on this one), and plays no fewer than FOUR instruments: drums, bass, gimbri and flute; or three if it is a bass gimbri!
The LP ends with Track 7 on Side 2, a Robin Williamson song titled “Way Back In The 1960s”; remember, this album was released in 1967; in 1968 the Jimi Hendrix Experience recorded “1983, A Mermaid I Would Be”, and a few short years later Wings did “1985”. “Love Potion Number 9” tells of how the singer has been since 1956. These references do sound a bit odd as the months and years roll on, but on the whole they don’t really matter very much. This is indeed the case with this closing track, which is a wry and amusing thing where Robin sings lead vocal and plays guitar, Mike plays lead guitar and sings supporting vocals, and Danny Thompson plays bass.
“We still used the wheel…”
All things considered, a fine cadence to this extraordinary album, which of course I now also have on CD.