The Incredible String Band

The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion/The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter

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This Collectors' Choice reissue pairs the second and third albums released by the Incredible String Band, the first material they recorded after being officially reduced to the duo of Mike Heron and Robin Williamson. Though they were lumped in with the psychedelic movement, the first is more like a slightly cosmic version of traditional British folk; some listeners may find it to be the more accessible effort, and it featured what is probably Williamson's best-known song, "First Girl I Loved" (also familiar via Judy Collins' cover version, "First Boy I Loved"). The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter is the ISB's most ambitious album, with Williamson and Heron employing an arsenal of unusual instruments (sitar, gimbri, pan pipe, oud, chahanai, and more), and Dolly Collins adding a couple of the more dignified arrangements. It's usually considered their most important effort by critics, but there were also traces of the sprawling, occasionally grating lack of focus that would increasingly come to characterize their work.

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