“The 5000 Spirits Or The Layer Of The Onion” by The Incredible String Band - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1967Album Chart of the Decade: 1960s

TJR says

It had generally been thought that The Incredible String Band’s album of 1966 was a one-off but when Robin Williamson returned from his North African sojourn after running out of money, laden with Moroccan instruments, he and Mike Heron reformed the band as a duo, with original member Clive Palmer still on his Far Eastern adventure. At Elektra, the door was always open and they wasted little time on getting to work on a second LP. Accompanying the duo are Robin's girlfriend Licorice McKechnie (vocals, percussion); Pentangle's Danny Thompson (double bass); John Hopkins (piano) and Nazir Jairazbhoy (sitar). Ever competitive, the two once more composed alone, with 7 tracks created here by Robin and 6 by Mike. The group’s manager, Joe Boyd, later revealed: “Fortunately, the quality and quantity of their song-writing was roughly equal. Neither would agree to the inclusion of a new song by the other unless he could impose himself on it by arranging the instruments and working out all the harmonies.” This competitive spirit seems to work well for the group – the quality is, indeed, extremely high. For the second album in a row, however, it’s Mike’s compositions which do it best for me, his winning daft irreverence once more coming to the fore on “The Hedgehog’s Song”, “Chinese White”, “Little Cloud” and “Painting Box”. The fantasy of his lyric is fantastic – where else would you get an album full of talking clouds and hedgehogs? Somewhat more earnest is Robin, who provides “No Sleep Blues” and “First Girl I Loved”, both of which are thoroughly excellent. Both men, in fact, prove themselves to me, and to each other, as great players, captivating lyricists, and first-class arrangers. There’s no doubting the brilliance of this work – absolutely their finest hour in my eyes. It’s classic psychedelic folk – with just a hint of India – and those exotic trips, real or imagined, have served them well.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:40] 9.1.png The Incredible String Band - Chinese White (Mike Heron) Folk
A2 [03:53] 8.6.png The Incredible String Band - No Sleep Blues (Robin Williamson) Folk
A3 [04:04] 8.8.png The Incredible String Band - Painting Box (Mike Heron) Folk
A4 [05:40] 7.2.png The Incredible String Band - The Mad Hatter’s Song (Robin Williamson) Folk
A5 [04:05] 8.9.png The Incredible String Band - Little Cloud (Mike Heron) Folk
A6 [04:02] 7.6.png The Incredible String Band - The Eyes Of Fate (Robin Williamson) Folk
B1 [02:49] 6.9.png The Incredible String Band - Blues For The Muse (Robin Williamson) Folk
B2 [03:30] 9.4.png The Incredible String Band - The Hedgehog’s Song (Mike Heron) Folk
B3 [04:55] 8.3.png The Incredible String Band - First Girl I Loved (Robin Williamson) Folk
B4 [02:46] 7.7.png The Incredible String Band - You Know What You Could Be (Mike Heron) Folk
B5 [02:46] 6.6.png The Incredible String Band - My Name Is Death (Robin Williamson) Folk
B6 [04:49] 7.0.png The Incredible String Band - Gently Tender (Mike Heron) Folk
B7 [03:11] 6.7.png The Incredible String Band - Way Back In The 1960s (Robin Williamson) Folk

© The Jukebox Rebel 2005-2020 All Rights Reserved