The Incredible String Band

Wee Tam

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This album was originally issued in the Incredible String Band's native Britain as the first in a two-LP collection with a companion disc entitled The Big Huge. However, stateside distributor Elektra Records decided to present them as two separate works. This version of the ISB includes founding members Robin Williamson (organ, bass, flute, guitar, percussion, piano, violin, drums, harpsichord, kazoo, whistle, sarangui, gimbri, and Irish harp) and Mike Heron (organ, bass, guitar, harmonica, harpsichord, sitar, and washboard) as well as their significant others, Christina "Liquorice" McKechnie (vocals, percussion, and Irish harp) and Rose Simpson (violin, bass, and vocals). At this point -- mid-1968 -- the quartet was continuing to experiment with a blend of folk music(s) from both sides of the Atlantic. They were also adding elements of psychedelia throughout. However, rather than the typical electric guitars and oftentimes nonsensical lyrics, the ISB were decidedly more insular. The double lead vocals on "Job's Tears" as well as the delicate minor-chord cacophonies and random woodwinds during "Beyond the Sea" are infinitely more subtle yet no less trippy than most anything the band had tried previously. "The Half-Remarkable Question" is a musical enigma, replete with a bouncy sitar-driven melody. This inevitably reminds the listener of the genuine breadth and scope of both Heron and Williamson's multi-instrumental talents and seeming mastery of all things stringed. There are also a few ISB classics included on Wee Tam -- such as the acoustic Appalachian sound of Heron's "Log Cabin in the Sky" as well as the innocuous love song "You Get Brighter," both of which remained at the heart of the ISB canon for decades to come. Unlike the excessive and scattered material that would accompany the quartet's interests [read: obsession] in Scientology during the ensuing years, Wee Tam and The Big Huge are charming and among the most representative discs from this incarnation of the ISB.

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