Around this time people must have been despairing of ISB ever recapturing their past glories, the truth is that (after "Changing Horses", "I Looked Up" and "U") this was the 4th ISB LP on the trot to be very far from perfect. However we can maybe make allowances given the nature of the LP - half outtakes (from 1968-69), half film soundtrack. Not quite half and half, two of the "songs" on the outtake side: "See All the People" and "All Writ Down", are from the documentary part of the "Be Glad" film. The former is an insignificant squib of a song, recorded live and with some very odd (and barely in tune) guitar playing from Robin Williamson. The latter is also a Mike Heron song and not a bad one, this version sounds different to me than the one in the film, possibly recorded later?
That leaves three Robin Williamson songs. The first of these, "Come With Me" is a lovely, almost mediaeval piece, which features all four of the band's singers. This was certainly a strong enough song to have been included on the contemporary ISB LP's, "Changing Horses" and "I Looked Up", but Williamson at the time seems to have been obsessed with turgid "meaningful" epics like "Creation" from "Changing Horses" and his two tracks on "I Looked Up". Also very strong is "Vishangro", a song which both lyrically and musically seems to belong the earlier pre-Scientology mysticism of "Wee Tam and the Big Huge" era Williamson. It's a pity that it's a solo voice-and-guitar performance, a song like this with it's odd changes and structure is crying out for a more considered arrangement. Williamson himself obviously thought so as he re-recorded it in a vaguely psychedelic style for his "Ring Dance" project - and, to digress, what a pity that an ISB version of the brilliant "Fine Fingered Hand" from the same album hasn't surfaced. The final Williamson track is the knockabout 20's style romp of "Waiting For You". Robin seems very fond of this style - "The Juggler's Song" from "U" and "Evolution Rag" are similar (particularly the latter) but "Waiting For You" is better than either, even if markedly more ramshackle, it has amusing lyrics and (presumably scripted) asides.
Which brings us to the soundtrack itself - which is extremely variable in quality. Some parts are good and work but the longer pieces are plain boring. Hearing Mike Heron trying to be Ravi Shankar for 6 minutes is no more interesting on this album than it was when he did it on "El Wool Suite" on "U". The extended piano and acoustic guitar duet is equally dull - a sort of cross between Heron's "White Bird" guitar solo from "Changing Horses" and something Captain Beefheart would have rejected as being too aimless. The best of "The Song Has No Ending" is the ending - and no I'm not joking - the mock Gregorian chant that gives way to the uplifting guitar/sitar coda, curiously reminiscent of Popol Vuh.
Thankfully, ISB pulled the iron out of the fire with their next album "Liquid Acrobat" which is a nelgected classic in my opinion. As for this LP, for fanatics only.