Pink Floyd and The Incredible String Band.
The Incredible String Band.
Returning now to the music on this album, which is my favourite of all of those that the group released, we come now to Track 3 on Side 3 aka Side 1 of “The Big Huge”. I think it is the shortest track I have in my entire record collection, lasting a mere 16 seconds. It is called “The Son of Noah’s Brother” [someone who could never have existed according to the Bible], and is a Williamson composition. Robin plays guitar and sings the whole thing solo, and Mike plays organ. The lyrics are sung on a descending note progression:
“Many were the lifetimes of the Son of Noah’s brother
See his coat the ragged riches of the soul.”
Track 4 is another Williamson song called “Lordly Nightshade”, coming in at amore normal timing of 5.54 minutes. Robin plays guitar, piano drums and whistle, and sings the verses solo, Mike plays percussion, and the whole band joins in for the single middle 8 one line refrain: “Tell me more, what then”. It is a typical surreal Williamson meander starting with “Captured by Hitler with Oliver Twist in the tower” and ending with “The green wolf with his bunch of red roses is slinking away/ All on a summer’s day”. Great stuff.
Side 3 ends with another short song, but this one lasts a whole 1.51 minutes. It is a Williamson composition called “The Mountain of God”, and the only instrument played is an organ played by him. The whole band sings the whole song in harmony, so the effect is very much that of a church choir as it was in 1968. The song is in the unique form of a sung Psalm. Psalms have not been sung in my church since 1980 with the advent of the Alternative Service Book (“ASB”), but until then they had formed a regular part of the ancient Prayer Book liturgy. The book of Psalms is in the Old Testament, one of the 39 books therein, and contains exactly 150 Psalms, most of which were written by “Great” King David (indeed Israel’s Greatest King of the Old Testament, and an accepted forebear of Jesus, but one who committed murder and adultery during his reign). The style in which they were sung was very distinctive, derived from the chanting patterns of medieval plainsong. Again, this one clearly indicates the strict Edinburgh Presbyterian upbringing the chaps had had, the lyrics containing a most pleasing mix of King James version Old Testament, a Christmas carol, the pre-ASB Prayer Book, and folk literature, ending with the traditional doxological King James cadence. This makes a truly brilliant end to the Side, and it is well worth setting them out in full:
“Behold the mountain of the Lord in latter days shall rise.”
“Hark, the herald angels sing.”
“Hush, hush, whisper who dares, Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.”
“Do ye not fly as clouds and doves to your windows/ Who serve as the shadow and the example of heavenly things.”
“As Moses was admonished of God as he was making the Tabernacle/ See that ye do all things according to the pattern shown you on the high mountain.”
“Glory be to the Father and to The Son and to the Holy Ghost/ As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be/ World without end/ Amen.”