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The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter

The Incredible String Band

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Album Review

The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter stands as the Incredible String Band's undisputed classic among critics and musicians alike — ask Robert Plant, who touted its influence on Led Zeppelin's first album and general direction. Recorded and released in 1968, the album hit number five on the U.K. album charts, and was nominated for a Grammy in the U.S. It was produced by Joe Boyd, and engineered by John Wood using 24-track technology. Robin Williamson, Mike Heron, and Licorice McKechnie also utilized the talents of Dolly Collins (vocals, flute, organ, and piano), and David Snell (harp). Williamson and Heron employed a vast array of instruments on these songs including sitar, gimbri, pan pipe, oud, chahanai, mandolin, guitars, Hammond B-3, dulcimer, harpsichord, pan pipes, oud, water harp, and harmonica. The songs were much more freeform and experimental. Check Heron’s 13-minute “A Very Cellular Song,” which incorporates elements from a Sikh hymn and a Bahamian spiritual. Using the Hammond, a gimbri, pan pipes, handclaps, and other instruments, it begins on a two-chord vamp that employs a vocal round in five-part harmony, with secular and spiritual lyrics. It’s simply infectious. Other notables include the stellar “The Minotaur’s Song,” with its call and response chorus played on guitars, upright piano, and six-part harmonies. It melds a children's song with a drinking song to humorous and utterly memorable effect. Elsewhere, “Waltz of the New Moon,” employs two-chord drones on acoustic guitar with a meld of Middle Eastern vocal styles and Scottish field songs. “Three Is a Green Crown” is a psychedelic folk song in all its hypnotic droning glory with Williamson’s primitive sitar playing featured prominently. The tender, exotic, "Nightfall,” the album’s closer, is a lullaby, with guitar and sitar accompanying the vocal in whole tone intervals. The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter is the most ambitious, focused, and brilliantly executed record in ISB’s catalog.

Biography

Formed: 1965 in Scotland

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '90s, '00s

One of the most engaging groups to emerge from the esoteric '60s was the Incredible String Band. Basically the duo of Mike Heron and Robin Williamson, its sound was comprised of haunting Celtic folk melodies augmented by a variety of Middle Eastern and Asian instruments. Heron was a member of several rock bands in England in the early '60s, while Williamson and Clive Palmer played as a bluegrass...
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The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, The Incredible String Band
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