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Released in July 1967 at the height of the summer of love, The Incredible String Band's The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion is an album that became emblematic of the time both musically and visually. Its use of sitars and tabla combined with folk music was a perfect soundtrack for those trippy dope smoking days.
The cover of the record is very July 1967 in that it’s one of those sleeves which you could stare at endlessly as the various narcotics flowed into your bloodstream and it’d never quite look the same twice.
It was designed by Dutch artists Simon Postuma and Marijke Koger who were better known as The Fool. The Fool has a couple of years where they were an important part of the way the musical scene looked.
They designed the clothes worn by the Hollies on the cover of their 1967 album Evolution. They also created the stage costumes and the front cover design for the self-titled 1967 debut LP Move by the Move and made clothes for Procol Harum.
They did the art for Boudewijn de Groot's 1968 Psych-folk LP Picknick. Cream had stage clothes designed by them, they painted Ginger Baker’s bass drum, Eric Clapton's famed "The Fool" psychedelic Gibson SG guitar and Jack Bruce's Fender Bass VI bass for the group's 1967 tour of the US. That SG guitar is worth a blog all of its own having later been owned by Todd Rundgren and recently being sold to a collector for half a million dollars!
The Fool also made the clothes for the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour film and most famously painted the mural on the side of the Apple store in Baker Street, London, though the uncool squares took out a court order to have it painted over.
They also released an album as The Fool produced by Graham Nash. I have a copy, it’s quite collectable but it’s not very good, rather insubstantial psyche-folky sort of music. But even so, the sentiment behind it was right on. A great hippie cover too
They moved to Los Angeles and created the largest mural in the world at the time (1968) on the exterior of the Aquarius Theatre for a production of the Broadway musical Hair, by invitation of producer Michael Butler. Simon and Marijke went on to paint other theatres where Hair was playing, in San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago. When you think about it, to be at the centre of the Beatles world and Hair too was to be at the psychedelic epicentre of the universe in 1967/68
By 1968 their days in the glare of the psychedelic sun were over. Simon and Marijke made another couple of albums under their own name and even had a hit single in the Netherlands. Simon died on 298th February this year aged 81, bless him.
For a few months they brought so much colour and joy into the world. And that’s never a bad thing now, is it?