“Liquid Acrobat As Regards The Air” by The Incredible String Band - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1971Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

Arriving in October was the second LP of the year from the Incredible String Band. Having split with Mike, Rose Simpson had left the group in the last few months and was replaced by Malcolm Le Maistre, who had been living communally with the band and their friends on the Tennant estate near Innerleithen in Scotland. Not that these personnel changes make a huge difference; Mike Heron and Robin Williamson rule the roost as always in terms of songwriting and artistic direction, but it has to be said the range of instrumentation tackled by all four members is quite staggering.

They line up for this one: Robin Williamson (lead vocals, oud, banjo, flute, violin, fiddle, cello, whistle, cymbal, rhythm guitar, bass recorder, mandolin); Mike Heron (lead vocals, sitar, guitar, harmonium, electric piano, flute); Likky McKechnie (lead and backing vocals, harmonium, pipe organ, bass, kazoo, hand drums, clashers, tambourine, spoons, bironne, autoharp) and Malcolm Le Maistre (harpsichord, mandolin, hand drums, bass, kazoo, swanee whistle, percussion, tenor recorder, bouzouki, glockenspiel, harmonica, clarinet, church organ). Other friends of the group making contributions were: Jack Ingram (drums); Stan ‘Lee’ Schnier (co-production, pedal steel, bass) and Gerry Conway (drums).

The album is consistently decent throughout, although there is little which gets me overly excited. However, the addition of a reggae beat on “Adam And Eve” reminds me that this group can serve up surprises at any given moment. My favourite track is “Darling Belle”, the epic album-closer written by Robin. Speaking of the piece he said it “came to me in a dream”. It’s typically ambitious – very theatrical with sung and spoken word portraying the story in amongst the various musical sub plots. Brilliantly, all 4 group members contribute vocals to this one. Mike Heron takes most of the lead, with Likky making memorable contributions with her high-pitch style. It tells the story of a woman, Belle, and the childhood sweetheart love of her life, James, a First World War soldier-boy who doesn’t make it with her through to old age. It’s quite the statement from a most special group.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [05:30] 6.5.png The Incredible String Band - Talking Of The End (Robin Williamson) Folk
A2 [03:05] 5.5.png The Incredible String Band - Dear Old Battlefield (Robin Williamson) Folk Rock / Americana
A3 [03:49] 5.8.png The Incredible String Band - Cosmic Boy (Mike Heron, Christina McKechnie) Crooner / Cabaret
A4 [03:23] 5.9.png The Incredible String Band - Worlds They Rise And Fall (Mike Heron) Songwriter
A5 [04:42] 6.2.png The Incredible String Band - Evolution Rag (Robin Williamson) Crooner / Cabaret
A6 [03:42] 5.7.png The Incredible String Band - Painted Chariot (Mike Heron) Prog
B1 [02:31] 6.1.png The Incredible String Band - Adam And Eve (Robin Williamson) Reggae
B2 [02:05] 5.1.png The Incredible String Band - Red Hair (Mike Heron) Alternative Folk
B3 [03:04] 6.4.png The Incredible String Band - Here Till Here Is There (Robin Williamson) Folk
B4 [02:58] 5.6.png The Incredible String Band - Tree [1971 album version] (Mike Heron) Folk
B5 [02:41] 6.2.png The Incredible String Band - Jigs: Eyes Like Leaves / Sunday Is My Wedding Day / Drops Of … (Traditional, Robin Williamson) Folk
B6 [10:59] 7.2.png The Incredible String Band - Darling Belle (Robin Williamson) Prog

© The Jukebox Rebel 2005-2020 All Rights Reserved