The Incredible String Band – The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion (1967)

Although The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter album by The Incredible String Band gets more credit than this album, by far this a better one. Delivered in 1967, this album is a great psychedelic trip. In fact, it’s brilliant all the way through and is one of the most underrated albums ever.

Here we go, track by track.

The beautiful song Chinese White begins. It sounds so natural and beautiful with all the instrumentation here. The singing here is reassuring as well. It has a beautiful and surreal edge to the song. A very nice start to the album.

After that, we have a flute and acoustic guitar-driven No Sleep Blues. It has a country and Nick Drake-like folk approach to the song. This is art – set to the music of course. A wonderful and joyful listen. You can hear all the variety throughout, it’s very musical indeed.

Painting Box is a trippy and lyrical number that points to a great sense of psychedelia by the group. There is a sitar-like sound and some beautiful lyrics here. A nice song, and sounds not at all dated, even today.

The Mad Hatter’s Song is a trip, Alice In Wonderland-style. It’s a trippy experience featuring a vast imagination of different characters. It’s a true trip musically, of course. Some nice piano is here as well. What a nice tune. It’s an extended piece for the album but sounds really nice.

The next song is Little Cloud. This piece begins with some wonderful vocal harmonies, then leading into an acoustic and bongo piece. It has a nice chant after the chorus, which is an interesting twist. It’s a perfect portrait of an era long gone.

Following up is The Eyes Of Fate. It’s a great almost Spanish guitar sounding piece. The singing here is really fantastic too. It is simple and wonderfully beautiful. There is some awesome chanting here too. A nice touch, very Hippie like.

Blues For The Muse is a short and sweet piece, very uptempo. It sounds very inspired and has some great references to guitars. Oh yeah, there is a harmonica here too. Good job to these guys, it is a great listen.

The Hedgehog’s Song sounds wacky, with slide guitar and bongos. Surreal lyrics abound here too. Obviously, an album like this is designed for some serious tripping. But listening to this album sober is fine on its own.

What’s next is The First Girl I Loved. It’s a retrospective journey about one’s first woman to have. It’s highly romantic lyrically, and there are some proto Led Zeppelin acoustic guitar playing here. It’s a great listen.

The next song is You Know What I Could Be. It’s a very Syd Barrett sort of song lyrically. The chorus has a good lyrical message here. Very psychedelic in approach as well musically. The part at the end is really cool stuff.

My Name Is Death is a tale about Mr. Grim Reaper himself. It’s a subdued tale talking about him. It’s a nice, subtle change from the music on the radio today. Good stuff by The Incredible String Band.

Gently Tender is a nice nature-based piece lyrically. It’s image evoking and powerful in intention. This is real psychedelia everybody, and it sounds really very good indeed. The song has an intelligent approach to its timing of the instruments in the song.

The last track Way Back In The 1960s is a nice song to finish the album. If you are like these guys, you will listen with nostalgia-based feelings. The 1960s was indeed a great era for music and culture, the likes which will not be done again. Very good indeed.

This album is really underrated. In fact so much so that it makes some of the albums of the time, let alone today, look like a joke. Fortunately, this is not a joke of any sort this album. It is one of the greatest psychedelic records ever made.

9/10

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