Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Incredible String Band - Wee Tam (1968)

I think this blog is haunted.

I don’t know why I haven’t posted about the Incredible String Band yet. I think I maybe thought they weren’t “obscure enough” or some bullshit. For those of our readers - if we still have readers and not just robot ghost posters - who aren’t familiar with the group, check here. Not to be lazy, I just think this is a better history than I could give without shark biting the entire entry.

Wee Tam was originally released in a two LP set as a companion piece to The Big Huge in the U.K. but, in true fashion, the U.S. record industry saw fit to release them both separately. Which is just as well I guess, because Wee Tam is the more solid of the two in my opinion. It’s hard to fuck with the one-two punch of The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion and The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter in the ISB catalogue, but I think Wee Tam comes closest. This album hits that sweet spot just before Mike Heron and Robin Williamson became complete and utter space cases.

The album starts with “Job’s Tears” which, in rather typical ISB fashion, contains more amazing melodies in one song than many of their contemporaries in the British folk scene would have across an entire album. As in past albums, they don’t just stick to folk of the British Isles. “Log Cabin Home in the Sky” is a pretty straightforward slice of Appalachian folk with just a touch of lyrical trippiness (trippyness?). Mike Heron is on top of his sitar game throughout the album, nowhere more evident than on “The Half-Remarkable Question,” arguably the album’s best track. The album closes on “Ducks on a Pond” which again borrows from American folk traditions, complete with Woody Guthrie quote.

While it may not be as strong as the two albums that came before it, Wee Tam is definitely worth the time. The more you listen to it, the more you’ll like it.

Also, check this video out. The sound is out of sync a little, but peep the tunics.

Listen to "Job's Tears"