The INCREDIBLE STRING BAND – ” Wee Tam And The Big Huge ” Released November 1968

Posted: November 26, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Wee Tam and the Big Huge was the fourth album by this Scottish psychedelic folk group, the Incredible String Band, It was released in Europe as both a double LP and separate single LPs in November 1968 by Elektra Records. In the US, however, the two discs were released separately as Wee Tam and The Big Huge

The album title imagined a friend of the band (Wee Tam) contemplating the vastness of the universe (the Big Huge) and the work was hallmarked by a vast array of stringed and other instruments from around the globe. The songs were written by Williamson or Heron, always individually. Both men had quite disparate styles. Heron largely embraced a warm, simplistic celebration of the natural world, while Williamson’s lyrics were full of mythical wonder, with imagery raided from paganism.

Heron’s tunes had immediacy. Williamson’s took more getting to know. Yet, their voices work so well together. Their instrumental playing is at times inspired, and the way they blend vocals and instrumentation allows two different souls to become one. As much as the playing shimmered with virtuosity, there was also a coy, amateurish side to the band,

originally released as two separate albums in 1968, Wee Tam& the Big Huge were audacious then and still monumental now. these were, in effect, the Incredible String Band’s fourth and fifth albums; their debut had appeared just two years prior. the band expanded their base with more stringed instruments from around the world, and increased the song length. more than half the songs are over five minutes in length to accommodate the band’s exploration of folkish moods and mysticism. Mike Heron’s “Log Cabin in the Sky” is a classic by any measure, and Robin Williamson’s “The Half-Remarkable Question” shows him in full command of a deeply anchored musical sensibility. the whole set feels like a continuous piece, with the songs rolling into one another with graceful ease.

Wee Tam is arguably the more accessible disc with notable highlights, The colorful and optimistic “You Get Brighter”, and the atmospheric “Air”. It’s a precursor for the brilliance of the Big Huge where Williamson’s creative touch dominates. The second disc starts with the wondrous epic “Maya”, which is sheer poetry and imagination set to vibrant music. The song ends with the sentiment that humanity creates a “troubled voyage in calm weather.” The overriding sense is that there is little wrong with the natural world and it is man who must find his place and learn to live in peace with the earth and his fellow occupiers.

Another peak is the mystic-poetic “The Iron Stone”, a slow-burn exploration, which suddenly morphs into the hippy equivalent of rap as “love paints the cart with suns for wheels” and ends in a wonderful instrumental melange with Heron’s sitar dueling with Williamson’s guitar. It’s sheer brilliance, and you feel exhausted and exhilarated afterward. Mind you, Heron manages to outdo his band mate with weirdness on this side of the album, with the impermeable “Douglas Traherne Harding”.

The real joy of Wee Tam and the Big Huge is that it takes you to places few albums have or will. It is nature’s roller coaster ride. It’s green before its time, haunting and plaintiff, spiritual and uplifting, funny and sad, baffling and informed, and it should be in everyone’s record collection, preferably on vinyl.

Originally a trio, the ISB were signed by legendary producer Jo Boyd. After seeing them at Clive’s Incredible Folk Club, a small venue in Glasgow’s famous Saucihall Street Boyd placed them on the Elektra label. The band released their seminal fourth album, Wee Tam and the Big Hugein 1968. A double album, no less, which was far out, as was the way the lyrics appeared unconventionally on the album covers, rather than inside. The typography and how initial letters of each song lyric were illustrated in a Book of Hours style. The inside spread was occupied by two pure flower-power portraits of Williamson and Heron together.

Willamson and Heron were the epitome of experimentation, free spirit, weirdness, beauty, and truth.

Image result for The INCREDIBLE STRING BAND - " Wee Tam And The Big Huge

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