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The Incredible String Band

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This 1966 debut album from one of the folk music world’s most ambitious players is also the band’s most straightforward. Their name is not an empty boast, but the obvious truth. With Robin Williamson on guitar, mandolin and violin, Mike Heron on mandolin and guitar and Clive Palmer, who would leave after this release, on banjo and guitar, the trio work the strings on tracks like “Schaeffer’s Jig” and  “Everything’s Fine Right Now” with a grace that settles nicely near tracks such as the forlorn “October Song” and “Womankind.” “Dandelion Blues” features their off-handed harmonies. “How Happy I Am” is not quite a celebration; in a little over two minutes it conveys an old-world weariness. “Empty Pocket Blues” is sheer elegance with a flute that ties together the Celtic ends of the group. “Whistle Tune” is a sweet minute-long interlude. Each ISB album is a distinct entity; they consistently broke new ground. Their absurdist sensibilities would become more pronounced over the years (it’s apparent on “Smoke Shovelling Song”), but this is a seminal album of the ‘60s folk boom.


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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The Incredible String Band, The Incredible String Band
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