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4.6 out of 5 stars22
4.6 out of 5 stars
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on 1 March 2013
It brought a big smile to my face when I saw the release announcement and I immediately took the pre-order route to ensure getting this treasure as soon as possible. For a treasure it is, almost a Holy Grail for the true ISB fan. Just Robin and Mike, still on the upward curve and basking in their artistic and commercial success of both 'The 5000 spirits' and 'Hangman's'. Liner notes are provided by Robin, Adrian Whittaker and latter day ISB member Stan Schnier, then working as house manager for Bill Graham's Fillmore East venue.

From the first it is clear that Robin and Mike had a very appreciative audience, and they succeed in bringing across their rather delicate and ethereal songs, both of them pulling off their songs in impressive style - quite a feat! There's an audience participation track ('Bell ringing') that apparently worked very well, and although it really is a throwaway track it still fits nicely in the context of this concert.

I just love this concert registration. It eclipses all other ISB live recordings that I know of, and it will have a prominent place in my collection of String Band delights. And really, if you're anywhere near being an ISB fan, this is an obligatory purchase.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2013
This really is a classic example of the dog's doodahs. Wonderful and inventive songs, superbly played and now presented in crystal clear sound. I saw Robin and Mike on the British leg of this tour at Birmingham Town Hall and they really were on top of their game, performance wise, at that time. The next time they came round they were a foursome and had lost some of their momentum while the two girls found their feet (which they did within nine months). Most of these songs were played on the night although I can't say which of the Wee Tam songs were included - that album hadn't been released then so I was totally unfamiliar with those songs. What I can say is that all the songs performed that night were played and sung beautifully. Just as they are on this cd. If you saw them on this tour, in Britain, America or wherever, buy this cd and wallow in sweet nostalgia for that time. If you didn't, buy it anyway and enjoy now what you missed then.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2013
Followers and fans of the Incredible String Band will surely already know of the legendary concert that took place in the Fillmore West, New York on 5th June 1968. The duo was riding a high wave of creativity and popularity at the time, and many still speak in reverend whispers of the concert that appears on this CD as being one of their very finest. I first came across a heavily-circulated cassette of the recorded concert at a Fan Convention in Hebden Bridge may years ago. A copied copy of a copied copy. Murky primeval sound wallowing in a swamp of hiss and crackle. Music that stopped abruptly as if the players had fallen off a cliff. Songs listed that didn't appear on the tape or appeared only in truncated form. Gradually, as technology progressed, these swap-meet cassettes became CDs, but the quality did not improve much. Like watching an old movie in Hi-Def, the enhanced tech only made the limitations of the original more obvious.

So, some of us have been walking a long, long road to get to this release. Was it worth it? It was very worth it! Here we have ten tracks comprising thirteen songs - all of pure and vintage stock, extra extra virgin, fresh from The 5000 Spirits, The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter and Wee Tam & The Big Huge. Oh, and Bell Ringing, of course. What more could mortal being require?

The sound is crystal clear now, coming from a 24-bit remaster approved by Mike and Robin and taken from the original mono concert tape. It is also played back on calibrated Studer decks, using a SADIE mastering platform. I'm sure this is all admirable stuff, although I cordially admit I have no inkling of what it means - except that the music sounds glorious and pristine throughout, which, I think, is the point.

And if by some chance you have never heard the music on this CD, and you think you know the songs so intimately that you do not need live versions, then think again. This is the sound of two young men at play - twisting and tweaking and mercurially shapeshifting their way through some of their finest and most timeless offerings. Hopefully, some dear soul will post a review that will talk you through the concert track by track. I'm poaching a breakfast egg right now, so I don't really have the time for that.

I've just noticed this review is getting a little lengthy; after three paragraphs of online Amazonic waffle, I usually feel like head-butting the computer or slitting my wrists, so I shall now be brief. If you have a dodgy copy of this already from some strange and uncanny source, jettison it and buy this one immediately. The boys will get royalties, you see. That's a good thing. The people at HUX Records, for it is they who have issued it, are an excellent resource and if you don't know them already, you should check them out. The package has been lovingly put together by ISB-guru Adrian Whittaker (editor of the book Be Glad: An Incredible String Band Compendium, of which you really ought already to have a copy). The 8-page booklet includes fresh-minted musing from Robin Williamson, a piece written by Adrian W with thanks to Mike Heron and Joe Boyd, the thoughts of Malcolm leMaistre and Stan Schnier, and a two-page essay putting both the band and the concert in context.

A final note: apparently 20 minutes of tuning up have been removed from the concert. Anyone who actually attended an ISB concert in the `60s/'70s will appreciate this thoughtful piece of editing. Oh, and it includes what may well be the first ever live performance of Maya, plus high-jinks with the audience, as well as what sounds like Williamson speaking in tongues in the middle of Swift As The Wind. Unmissable. Essential. What exactly are you waiting for?
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2013
This has been available as a bootleg for years, most recently as part of the excellent Gods Holliday series, but this remaster of the original tapes is frankly amazing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 14 April 2013
I was only 14 when this was recorded but , thanks to my dear old Dad (whose musical tastes were eclectic to say the least) I was already a Stringhead.
Notwithstanding the howling and wailing of Heron and Williamson on "Swift As The Wind" this is a live album of rare quality. Well recorded and, though "of its time", well performed. If you're remotely interested in the String Band I would certainly consider adding this gem to your collection as it's not just for completists.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2013
As the other reviewer also say - makes you smile and makes you nostalgic. This performance was a couple of years after I started my complete ISB collection by hearing "First Girl I Loved" on "Select Elektra" sampler, and a few months before I first saw them live at The Albert Hall pop proms. In between I caught some crackly broadcasts on John Peel. But this is crystal clear.
I don't think I've ever had a truly spiritual experience, but hearing/seeing "Maya" as their opener at Liverpool Philharmonic, soon after this was recorded, came as close as anything to one. Indispensable and influential. No-one combined originality with Celtic roots and world music so well, so early. And always to me the big unanswered (and more than half-remarkable) question: how did Mike learn the sitar so quickly, so well, and then just stop using it? Ok, I'm sure Ravi Shankar would not have been impressed but for the ISB it was superb and fitted perfectly.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 19 June 2013
At last....Robin Williamson and Mike Heron, just the two brilliantly gifted young musicians who comprised the Incredible String Band way back in 1968, and who remained the beating heart of that most unique band throughout its various line-up changes...caught during possibly their finest of many fine live performances. Having grown out of the Scottish folk scene, through Swinging London to become the darlings of the hippy underground,to America they went and carried (almost) all before them...nobody had EVER heard anything like this incredible music before! The fearless duo weave their way with magical ease through some astonishing pieces here, proving that such mysterious concoctions as "A Very Cellular Song" were not simply studio creations but could be brought literally to life in concert. Superbly played versions of highlights from "5,000 Spirits", "The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter" and even "Wee Tam & The Big Huge" spring out from the speakers in pristine clarity thanks to this superb re-master....such a joy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 April 2013
Excellent, have been waiting for a long time to listen to this recording.
Well done to the people who masterminded this project.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 April 2013
This was the first year I saw the ISB and brings back fond memories. Recording is very good considering 45 years old
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on 29 June 2015
If you want to know why some people regard the Incredible String Band as unusual, innovative and a glorious assault on the senses then buy this cd. The songs are well known to String Band fans but the versions on this concert recording are vibrant and some, like October Song, are radically different from the studio recordings. Mike Heron's sitar playing is wonderful throughout and Robin Williamson's vocal performances are just stunning. Live at the Fillmore is the best live recording I've ever heard and I've never heard these songs played so well - the musicianship is staggering. Nowhere is this better heard than on A Very Cellular Song where Robin picks up and plays a succession of instruments. It's hard to believe that all the sounds are being made by just two guys This cd is the youthful String Band- experimental, folk/psychedelic avante garde, magical, beautiful and slightly dark. In 1968 they really were the Incredible String Band
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