The INCREDIBLE STRING BAND – ” The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter ” Classic Albums

Posted: January 2, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Scotland’s Incredible String Band combined traditional music of several cultures and brought that mixture into the hippie era, giving birth to freak folk. Among the ISB’s many fans is Robert Plant, who once cited the group’s “The Hangmans Beautiful Daughter” as a major influence on Led Zeppelin. The 1968 Elektra collection is ambitious and eclectic, applying a wide array of acoustic instruments (including sitar, oud, hammered dulcimer,  pan pipe and harpsichord) to the frequently surreal lyrics of Robin Williamson and Mike Heron. These songs of minotaurs and amoebas are psychedelic in the broadest sense of the term, and make excellent use of multi-tracking and overdubbing, guided by the capable hand of producer Joe Boyd. A commercial success in its native U.K. as well as a Grammy nominee, THE HANGMAN’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER is considered the Incredible String Band’s finest album, and it still works a strange magic on listeners.

For an album with lyrics like “If I were a witch’s hat, sitting on her head like a paraffin stove” and “I hear that the Emperor of China used to wear iron shoes with ease;We are the tablecloth, and also the table;also the fable of the dancing leaves”?
Just goes to show we baby-boomers had a damn sight more musical appreciation sense than we’ve been given credit for! This is, granted, the most mysterious, wordy, other-wordly of the Incredibles albums, but it Never loses its’ way musically, even in the key and tempo changes abounding in Williamson’s opening Keoaddii There or Heron’s 12 minute A very Cellular song, which, over 15 years on, Talking Heads adopted as a concert closer-now you know David Byrne was no fool either.

The best bit about this is you don’t need to be any of these things to enjoy this-stoned/hippy/old/living dead. It probably goes without saying that the duo’s instumentational abilities are great on any of their first 4 albums-this being the 3rd-but here the sheer variety of what they play and what they get out of those instruments defies belief. You could almost listen to the album for that alone, or for the poetry of the lyrics.

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