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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A call to arms.
I'm going to start with a confession. My knowledge of the incredible string band is rather limited so you'll excuse me if I can't demonstrate the type of extensive background knowledge of the band displayed by other reviewers of this album. As a daughter of an original sixties child I have been influenced enormously by my father to whom my music taste is entirely...
Published on 13 May 2004 by misty may

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Hippy type
Is okay but a bit dated I wouldn't but it if I had heard it in advance I find it s bit contrived
Published 14 months ago by Terry


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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A call to arms., 13 May 2004
By 
This review is from: The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (Audio CD)
I'm going to start with a confession. My knowledge of the incredible string band is rather limited so you'll excuse me if I can't demonstrate the type of extensive background knowledge of the band displayed by other reviewers of this album. As a daughter of an original sixties child I have been influenced enormously by my father to whom my music taste is entirely indebted. Perhaps for this reason I feel completely let down by the majority of modern music and tend to raid my father's collection for stimulation. The wonderful man made a little compilation C.D. for his pretentious teenaged daughter and this is where I first encountered The Incredible String Band. Painting Box completely overwhelmed me with that complex confusion of vocals and strings vying for attention. So beautiful and natural...how could I not seek out the source of such a masterpiece?
And so I find myself surrounded by these incredible psychedelic string sounds even as I write this crit.. I challenge anyone to listen to the 5000 Spirits and not feel as I do; we, the youth of the nineties/noughties, are a musically deprived generation. Let us hope modern musicians seek inspiration in truly musical albums like this and perhaps the future of music will be a little brighter :-)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joy from Way Back in the 1960's, 8 Sep 2007
By 
KMorris (Nottingham, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (Audio CD)
1967. Bob Dylan temporally out of action, but a whole load of exciting new music for the young mind to take in. The Beatles, The Byrds, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe and The Fish, Love, The Mothers Of Invention, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band - they all entertained, amazed, warmed the spirit and carried us through those days.

Own up time. I unfortunately overlooked this gem when is came out. Maybe it was dismissed as being too fey and folky. After all, how could two chaps from Scotland compete with the psychedelic big guns and San Franciscan darlings? A variety of routes, most significantly an article in Mojo Magazine's recent excellent "Hendrix and The Summer Of Love" edition, now lead me to investigate this forty years on!

A happy surprise. What we have here is a marvellous collection of songs by this talented duo here reaching their peak form. Their special interaction with, and support for each other bursts forth and this along with their next release was certainly a golden interlude for Heron and Williamson. Folky this obviously is, but such a whole lot more besides. The use of Eastern instrumentation is truly trail blazing, being fully integrated and in no way merely incorporated as a facile fashionable gimmick.

It now appears to me to be an important, unique offering. Muchly of it's time, it may be said, but like all great albums, also beyond it. Often quoted as being Paul McCartney's favourite record of that year, at this distance it still stands as a mighty achievement, not to be underestimated.

The best album of 1967? Well, there's fierce competition - "Are You Experienced", The Doors' eponymous debut, Arthur Lee's masterwork "Forever Changes", "Safe As Milk" - but here's an unexpected candidate. A magical listening pleasure four decades down the line!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a stone groove, baby!, 15 Aug 2001
By 
Drengskap (Leicester, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (Audio CD)
An absolute classic of late 60s high psychedelia. The Incredible String Band's second album, released in 1967 (the year I was born!), more or less defines hippyness (at least from the British perspective), with the cosmic symbolism of its cover art, and the eclectic blend of musical influences it displays - whilst the sound is rooted in a Celtic folk tradition, it incorporates Indian and straightforward rock sounds, and the influence of Bob Dylan is felt everywhere. My favourite tracks are the bittersweet First Girl I Loved, Painting Box and Gently Tender. The charming whimsy of Little Cloud and The Hedgehog's Song is quite appealing, though beware - if singing hedgehogs and lovelorn clouds sound stupid to you, you won't dig this album at all, man!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best collection of songs every released, 9 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (Audio CD)
If you haven't heard 5,000 Spirits then you risk going through life without ever knowing just how wonderful music can be. 5,000 Spirits surpasses all other music that I have heard. Heron and Williamson playing a wide variety of instruments and working together to make magical tunes.
The Mad Hatter's song has so many changes and yet hangs together. Hedgehog Song tells the story of a man who is followed by Hedgehog that is never satisfied. Way back in the 1960s. Buy this - you'll not regret it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 years on, 5 Mar 2008
By 
Chris "Chris B" (Derbyshire, U.K.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (Audio CD)
I only just got this on CD.
When I first heard it (C1968) I loved it dearly, but only ever had access to a loaned and worn copy of the LP to play on a crappy BSR radiogram that partially achieved some stereo effect when you put your head in the cupboard provided for storing discs. The beautiful production by Joe Boyd was, therfore, a revelation when I played the CD.
The songs are a perfect pivot between the simple folky style of the Stringbands first album and the complex masterpiece that is "Hangman's". The numbers, particularly the more pop stylee ones, like "First Girl" and "Paintingbox" are just so evocative and beautifully crafted. Robin's virtuoso guitar and Mike's quirky songs are breathtaking. It is a wonderful snapshot of the hip dream, but with a terrific sense of humour.
I listen again and I'm wearing loon pants and a kaftan and believe that music, love and peace will prevail!
This album is both influential and influenced. Love it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Please enter a title for your review:, 6 Jan 2008
This review is from: The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (Audio CD)
I have nothing to add to the plethora of excellent reviews already here other than it reminded me a little of a mix between Jefferson Airplane and The Velvet Underground, yet was at the same time completely unique. I know almost nothing about ISB, but I once had them recommended to me by a hippie engineer (that is someone who worked as an engineer but subscribed to the point of note to a hippy lifestyle, not someone who engineers hippies), and I'm glad he did. Buy this album, then listen to it with your ears.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 5000 Influences, 27 Jun 2006
By 
Mr T "meltcity" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (Audio CD)
This is a very strange album. Essentially it's folk, a genre I'm not over familiar with. As it's played here, though, I kind of get it. That's probably because 5000 Spirits is as far from traditional folk music as you can get. The influences are very far and wide. There's a strong eastern flavour with lots of sitars and strange song arrangements. Psychedelic is also an important ingredient but don't be confused by the weird and wonderful cover, this is not a psych album along the lines of Piper at the Gates of Dawn or After Bathing at Baxters. 5000 Spirits goes far beyond it's own influences. It's one of those rare items: an original piece. Well worth checking out, but only if you're open-minded.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Live 'til you die, you poor little man..., 18 Jan 2001
This review is from: The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (Audio CD)
The second ISB record is a beautiful affair: stark, bluesy, and infused with that unmistakable semi-mystic childlike wonder that the Incredibles made their own. Mike Heron and Robin Willamson, the String Band's two members, are joined by Licorice on a few numbers, and by legendary folk bassist Danny Thompson on others. Apart from the piano on "The Mad Hatter's Song," and the sitar of Soma, there are no other guest appearances. The songs which stand out are Williamson's "The Mad Hatter's Song" and "First Girl I Loved," and Heron's "Gently Tender," although all the tracks are notable. Minor numbers such as "My Name Is Death" and "The Eyes Of Fate" add up to a well-rounded (if the ISB can ever be referred to as such!) collection. Well worth buying if you like esoteric folk music.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epochal, 30 Nov 2000
By 
nick g black (London, England United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (Audio CD)
For some reason I took against the album at the original time of its release, only to make up for this sin of omission a little while later.
The spine of this collection is excellent song writing, songs so good, concise and clear that you wonder how on earth Nick Drake could have posthumously stolen the thunder from all UK singer songwriters- these guys were just as inspired.
Robin Williamson is in particularly fine form, but Mike heron and he make a distinctive blend - rooted in traditional folk singing but with an impish grasp of other levels and layers. My Name is Death is simply superb, as is First Girl I loved and the Hedgehog Song.
They had one or two more good albums ahead of them, and in retrospect the additional "colourations" the band chose to adorn their songs have not aged well - particularly the intrusive sitar,which dates the album to its era. But here you can listen to something quiet, something remarkable, something gentle.
Don't be put off by the "psychedelic" tag; in fact in the narrow definitions of the time, the Band were considered folk rather than rock, and thus they were filed in record shops.
Lovely, gorgeous, celtic.. and some songs still make me laugh.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind blowing, 15 Mar 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (Audio CD)
If you've never been subjected to Mike Heron or Robin Williams strange music, then you cannot have said to have lived . Extreme in all manners of the word, this must rate as one of the defining records of it's era, despite a very limited circulation .Well worth the cash to own a small piece of British folk history, although not for the faint hearted .
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The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion
The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion by Incredible String Band (Audio CD - 1992)
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