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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

(the) Incredible String Band - Changing Horses

Name: The Incredible String Band
Album: Changing Horses
Year: 1969
Style: Folk, Renaissance, Psychedelic
Similar Bands: Donovan, Nick Drake, Strawberry Alarm Clock
"One-Word" Review: Spaced Out ,Tired Minsterals
Based Out Of: Scotland
Label: Elektra
Changing Horses: Cover, Back & Record
Changing Horses: Liner Notes & Record

Changing Horses (1969):
  1. Big Ted 4:21
  2. White Bird 14:46
  3. Dust Be Diamonds 6:14/
  4. Sleepers, Awake 3:44
  5. Mr. and Mrs. 4:54
  6. Creation 16:04
Album Rating (1-10): 4.5

Members & Other Bands:
Joe Boyd - Producer
Walter Gundy - Harmonica
William S. Harvey - Sleeve Design
Mike Heron - Bass, Guitar, Guitar (Electric), Horn, Keyboards, Mandolin, Percussion, Piano, Sitar, Vibraphone, Vocals, Artwork (Heron)
Licorice McKechnie - Guitar, Kazoo, Keyboards, Organ, Percussion, Violin, Vocals
Ivan Pawle - Keyboards, Organ, Piano (Dr. Strangely Strange)
Janet Shankman - Photography
Rose Simpson - Bass, Percussion, Vocals
Robin Williamson - Flute, Gimbri, Guitar, Guitar (Electric), Keyboards, Organ, Percussion, Piano, Violin, Vocals, Washboard, Artwork
John Wood - Engineer

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of this band. From the cover art to the interior art work, I’m guessing it will be light and folky. Music from the hippie culture can be a vast array of music, though, but I’m thinking it is going to be more renaissance themes and medieval instrumentation.

Album Review: “Big Ted” sounds like a swampy southern jug & washboard band song. It is also a bit like Dr Dog. It’s about selling an old pig named Ted to market. It is kind of a silly song. In fact, it has nonsense words skatting over a fun bouncy bridge including a sound that I think is “Squirrelly.” It is this fun bouncy section that really brings the song together, and finishes out the song to the end. Very enjoyable.
“White Bird” is a slower, quiet, recorder played song. It is a long light, flittering ballad. The harmonized chorus sounds downright religious, especially with the organ playing long, drawn out single notes. It feels like it is going to tire out and stop at any time, as it slowly crawls along, but there is still 12 minutes to go. So rather than stop, a psychedelic bass and backing instrumental section lifts the song up as the vocals slowly change and wake up. But that stops and the recorder takes over, bringing back the renaissance style folk ballad and choir-like chorus. After this offering, the music stops completely and picks up with a painful moaning style of singing with only the faintest hint of musical accompaniment...strings perhaps? Then for a little there is a strings-only instrumental: a little plucked and flamenco style guitar play. This is eventually followed by more painful chanting and echoing, wind blown effects. The chorus chant of “white bird” is revisited in the end with bongo percussion, but it still sounds churchey.
“Dust Be Diamonds” feels connected to the previous song as it is slow and soft, but the melody of the verse sounds a little progressive, as it is broken and disjointed. The chorus is quite annoying, as it sounds like a folksy cover of something that would come from Ren & Stimpy. It has a sort of royal welcoming announcement as played on the piano feel to it too. But the song consists of these two uninteresting parts, making this song a long, drawn out chore.

“Sleepers, Awake” is an all acapella song that has a folksy church choir feel. It is harmonized with a strong separation of the male and high pitch female vocals.
“Mr. and Mrs.” Takes the mood back to folksy psychedelic genre. The song just has a feeling that it was played in a cloud of smoke and black light. It rambles along a path not quite cemented down, so bits of the melody do wander off track. It borrows a little in the melody from the Beatles odd creations, as this song reaches a point halfway through where the time signature and tempo constantly changes.
“Creation” starts with a quiet moaning chant and slow acoustic guitar playing with liquid percussion in the background. It has a spacey higher plane feel to it, with the spoken lyric dialogue over laying the sitar and chants. If it weren’t so serious sounding and plodding, droning on, I’d think it was a joke from something like The Monkee’s “Head.” The dialogue turns into a very calculated singing with minimal elevated emotion. Around 4:50, the style changes, bridged by an Eastern European sounding section. The spoken psychedelic poetry continues over a much more upbeat musical section, with la-la-la’s replacing the painful moaning. The eastern bridge comes back and continues longer, in a very klezmer dance section. That quickly turned back into the initial moaning and dark section from the beginning. Then a whirling piano sends the vocalists spinning around in a tripped out dream, as they exclaim “aaahhh” closer and further away from the mic. The style makes a complete turn about, as slow ragtime piano begins, and the vocals are sung through an olde tyme microphone, accompanied by a trumpet playing the vocal melody. This jazzy radio era section is followed by an instrumental section that finishes off completely. But there is still a minute left for the old tyme mic sound and vocals that sound drunken and swaying, accompanied by kazoos.

Stand Out Track: Big Ted

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