Pink Floyd and The Incredible String Band.
The Incredible String Band.
It is perhaps worth mentioning at this point that the “Wee Tam” LP is Sides 1 and 2 of the original, and “The Big Huge” one is Sides 3 and 4 thereof. However, in all the discussions and writings about the album, the single LPs are never referred to as such. Moreover, in my view this is without doubt the best album the ISB ever released. It is significant that the lyrics adorn the front and back cover, as they are all very fitting indeed to the music, more so than in almost every song ever recorded. This is not because any of the songs has any meaning as such, but rather because of the way the words and phrases are put together to go with the tunes. Every piece in the suite is a masterpiece in its own way, though certainly some are easier on the ear than others.
Track 1 on Side one is a brilliant Robin Williamson song called “Job’s Tears”, lasting a full 6.40 minutes. As a Christian, the song’s title has always seemed anomalous to me, as Job is a book in the Old Testament, whereas all the Biblical references in the song are from the New Testament. The Book of Job concerns a godly man whom God permits the Devil to torture; it is one of the Bible’s most helpful guides to the tricky problem of suffering.
The song has a number of distinct sections, all of which elide together in the most wonderful way. The first words you hear are: “We’re all still here; no one has gone away”. A bit later there is a short burst that goes: “Hello I must be going I only came to say I hear my mother calling and I must be on my way.” Midway there comes a couplet that could have come from any of the Christian songs I love to sing: “And the grave was empty where they had laid him.”
It seems clear to me that Robin and Mike had been brought up in typical Edinburgh protestant families, and like many such children had been made to go to Sunday School every week. Typically at that time this unfortunately religious [Jesus was dead against religion] upbringing caused a resentful rejection of the Gospel, but left the chaps with a working knowledge of many bits of the Bible.
Anyway, “Job’s Tears” is a marvelous introduction to this wonderful album. On of the unique features of the original is the photo of the band which fills the whole of the inside of the cover. This was the last album so to limit the formal members of the group: