Rock's Backpages Library Rock's Backpages
Rock's Backpages

The Incredible String Band/The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion

Barney Hoskyns, Uncut, September 2004

THE FIRST ISB albums in a two-fer-one release. The ISB (1966) is a more-or-less conventional Scots-trad folk effort by the original trio of Robin Williamson, Mike Heron and Clive Palmer. Dancing over banjos, mandolins and fiddles, Williamson’s high, nimble tenor contrasts nicely with Heron’s more sardonic, Dylan-meets-Richard-Thompson tone. The 5000 Spirits (1967) saw the duo of Heron and Williamson boldly going where folk had ne'er trod, adding exotic global-village instruments (sitar, oud, tamboura et al) to the Highland foundations and treating tradition with irreverent psychedelic whimsy.

Total word count of piece: 87