The Incredible String Band: Very hip. Very counterculture.

The Incredible String Band: Very hip. Very counterculture.
Authored By John Nicholson
If there is an example of the late 60's quirky, off the wall spirit it is the hippy duo the Incredible String Band. They were unlike any other band at the time. Folky, kind of, they were also very psychedelic in the truest eclectic sense. Formed in the mid sixties they made one album with Clive Palmer, now very rare. It got to #34 in the UK charts but it was the third album, The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, which was their major contribution to the scene.
incredible string band The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter

The psychedelic, felt-tips on-acid cover of the second album was designed by The Fool, the hippy collective who worked with the Beatles at this time. Very hip. Very counterculture.
The album got to #5 and this hippy duo, who were antipathetic to each other, at the best of times, were unlikely stars. They played the Fillmore and were vaunted as the coming of the Age of Aquarius. Their albums sold less than numbers in America compared to the UK, peaking at 161. Even so, they were feted on the hippy scene. They attracted the interest of Scientologists, this was at a time when truth-seekers often ended up in communes and cults. The music took a turn for the worse as they embraced the sci fi religious bollix.

Wee Tam and the Big Huge in 1968 failed to chart and they never cracked the top thirty album charts again.

They made eight more albums before breaking up. The Scientology didn’t really last and the scene moved on. Mike Herons Bad Reputation had some popularity in the folk rock community as a band. incredible string bandRobin Williamson released loads of uncommercial records. There were a couple of unsuccessful reunions and live records. But the magic had gone. It wasn’t 1968 anymore.
There’s no doubt that many people who got stoned to The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter formed bands and the group were influential on the sound of the music a thousand bands made. Led Zeppelin were one such group whose acoustic side was very influenced by that record. They even played at Woodstock, so great was their reputation at time. But their influence and popularity evaporated like summer mist. Even so, few records expressed 1968 better than Hangman. If you want to feel the zeitgeist of those times, that’s the record to hear. In these more cynical days of money and marketing, it is remarkably fresh, naïve and optimistic and we can always do with a dose of those...


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