Pink Floyd and The Incredible String Band.
The Incredible String Band.
This was one of the first full price albums I ever bought, the third I think after “Liege & Lief” by Fairport Convention and “Alchemy” by the Third Ear Band, and I bought it almost exactly 49 years ago, after Christmas 1970 but before New Year’s Day 1971.
I had heard the track “Puppet Song” on the radio, the first Incredible String Band music I had ever heard, and was immediately entranced by it.
The double album carries a subtitle or description: ” A surreal parable in song and dance concept by Incredible String Band and Stone Monkey”. It remains one of my favourite albums of all time, and is a very close second favourite ISB album after “Wee Tam and The Big Huge” [see above!!!].
Side 1 opens with a brilliant acoustic instrumental called “El Wool Suite” lasting an astonishing 9.02 minutes. Mike plays sitar, Robin gimbri, flute and clay drums, and Rose table and guitar. Every second of this is pure bliss.
There follow a couple of short typically comic/dark stuff short Robin songs. Track 2 is “The Juggler’s Song” (3.05 minutes) and 3 is “Time” (3.57 minutes). He is solo on the latter, providing vocal, 12 string guitar and mandolin. On the former he is joined by Licorice on vocal and plays guitar, bass and mandolin.
Track 4 is an extraordinary mock country and western song sung by a lady called Janet Shankman titled “Bad Sadie Lee”, lasting 3.52 minutes. Mike plays piano and adds backing vocals, Robin plays fiddle, Jew’s harp and washboard, both the girls provide backing vocals, and a chap named Peter Grant plays banjo. It is the most “wall of sound” track ever produced under the ISB banner.
Side 1 ends with a beautiful, soft, romantic, and very slightly pornographic epic called “Queen of Love”, coming in at 8.37 minutes. It is another Robin song where he sings the solo vocal and plays guitar and bass, and Janet Shankman plays harpsichord. Uniquely, I think, for an ISB track, this one also has a credit for the arrangement, going to one Tom Constanten.
It can now be observed that side 1 lasts an amazing 29 minutes, which is typical of all the 4 sides of the album. This was great value for money!
This is the back cover: