The Incredible String Band

Wee Tam & The Big Huge

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Wee Tam & The Big Huge Review

by Thom Jurek

Originally issued as a double LP set in 1968 in the U.K, Wee Tam & the Big Huge was split into two LPs for the U.S. market in 1969 to no avail; they still didn't sell. The music on these two albums is ultimately kinder than the Incredible String Band's earlier albums, their self-titled debut, and The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion and The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter. While the bandmembers didn't give up their use of many Eastern string and reed instruments, they did employ more conventional Western folk song structures (somewhat), making the ease-of-listening factor much higher. Robin Williamson and Mike Heron, with Rose Simpson and Licorice McKechie, began to move toward the forefront of the collective here, asserting their often complementary but sometimes clashing styles over the gorgeous voices of the two women. The songs on the the Wee Tam half are somewhat stronger, but those on the latter one possess a certain spaciness and childishness that is charmingly anarchic in spirit. What sets these records apart from the previous albums is that here the Incredible String Band accepted their mantle as a band, letting the excess fall by the wayside and actually writing "conventional" songs without giving up either their love for arcane music and quirky humor or the influence of LSD culture that informed their artistic venture from the jump. Wee Tam & the Big Huge is not the innocent journey of a host of lost hippies in love with making weird, wonderful music from the wreckage of the distant past. Instead, the mysticism of the then-present era of the 1960s is fused together with progressive and ancient British Isles folk styles to produce a startlingly focused work. Ultimately, Wee Tam & the Big Huge is the sound of a band coming into its own.

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