The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion review by The Incredible String Band

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  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.5 (6 votes)
The Incredible String Band: The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion

Sound — 8
There are two men in the band (at least when at this point in their career). Mike Heron's songs tend to be happy while Robin Williamson's either sarcastic or dark and brooding. Like all their early albums, there's not a single electric instrument. Unlike their previous record, their self-titled debut, this album is more rooted in traditional British-Irish-Scottish music rather than folky Americana. There's a strong Celtic vibe. A few nods here and there go to their folk music roots, but it's otherwise a big change. Remarkbable acoustic guitar work by both men, especially "Mad Hatter's Song" and "First Girl I Loved." The use of exotic instruments such as the bowed gimbri (sounds like a demented violin) and the sitar spice it up and give it a psychdelic edge. Heron's voice is a bit deep, and Willaimson's very thin and nasally. Licorice McKechnie, who later joined, provides some backing vocals. The sound quality isn't great. Elektra wasn't a very monied company in 1967. But you'll survive, it kinda adds an overall rawness.

Lyrics — 8
Two of Mike Heron's songs are silly little tales about talking clouds and wise hedgehogs, inspired by old tales of the British Isles. "Chinese White," on the other hand, is very well written, with great dreamy atmosphere. Robin Williamson relies also on old legends, but his are more sinister. "Mad Hatter's Song" is full of magical imagery and poetic musing. "First Girl I Loved," one of their best known songs, is more tender song of his work, recalling the lass that first ticked his fancy with nostalgia for an unknown time. On the whole the album has amazing lyrics.

Overall Impression — 8
Psychedelic folk ain't so bad. With bongo freakouts and an endless weaving of acoustic sawing (especially on "The Mad Hatter's Song"), the album is a trip. Standouts would be the rowdy "Blues For The Muse," the tender "First Girl I Loved," the very well arranged "You Know What You Could Be" and the futuristic spoof "Way Back In The 1960s." Great piece of out there sixties music overall. Looking for some magic and fantasy, with some fine acoustic guitar playing and wild instruments thrown in? Look no further. Check it out, it ain't so bad.

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