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The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion

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iTunes Review

A trip to Morocco helped Robin Williamson tilt the group’s sound towards more exotic instrumentation. Clive Palmer had departed the group and Williamson and Mike Heron went to work with now legendary producer Joe Boyd to meet the Summer of Love with a diverse collection of songs that perfectly capture ISB’s unusual wit and wisdom. This is loose, raw folk music played by virtuoso musicians. Heron’s “Chinese White” begins with a few Middle-Eastern touches and even a wild, rambling tune like Williamson’s “The Mad Hatter’s Song” adds a spinning sitar to its backwoods flow. Heron’s “Little Cloud” adds additional percussion to the quirky vocal interplay. Williamson’s “The First Girl I Loved” went on to be covered by Judy Collins on her stellar Who Knows Where The Time Goes collection and is performed here closer to a traditional folk song. “The Hedgehog’s Song” is a playful and skillful piece. Each ISB album has its own distinctive flavor.

Customer Reviews

Give it a chance

an awesome mix of instruments make this album sound incredibly fresh some 30+ years after it was originally released.


Love TISB. Listened to them in my teens and still connects. Not for everyone. Definitely for me.


incredible unique harmonies, instrumentation, chord progressions, and themes. must have for lovers of literary psychedelic folk music. lovely.


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 and Scottish folk duo. Heron was asked to join as rhythm guitarist, and the trio named itself the Incredible...
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