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Be Glad for the Song Has No Ending

3.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, 4 May 1998
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Product details

  • Audio CD (4 May 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Edsel
  • ASIN: B000007S31
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 459,026 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Come With Me
  2. All Writ Down
  3. Veshengro
  4. See All The People
  5. Waiting For You
  6. The Song Has No Ending

Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This is a minor work by the ISB, released in 1971 but recorded in 1968 at the very height of their powers. They created music and songs with an imagination and reach way beyond most of their contemporaries and thirty years later they remain unique - many admirers but no followers. Side one of this album is a bunch of great songs, side two is soundtrack music from the eponymous and very loopy film. It has gorgeous moments, but can't be described as essential. But the whole album features THE classic ISB line-up - Mike, Robin, Rose & the now disappeared Licorice. A three star album from a five star group. Get it when you've got 5000 Spirits, Hangman and Wee Tam.
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Format: Audio CD
Simply, ISB had just been dropped by Elektra & Island needed an album fast from them.

They didn't even have enough tracks for one side, until they dredged up See All The People, live gem from 1968. Vishangro is also superb, the rest of side one looks or rather sounds slung together in a great hurry and adds nothing and added nothing then to their fast-diminishing reputation.

Still think as I did then that the women added little to Robin & Mike's chemistry in the studio, though they helped sustain the live act in a new format. Not that I preferred that to their original shows c 1966-68, but credit where it's due.

The problem is side 2. It's the incidental music to the film/home movie they were making at the time(stills on the cover as you'll see). What better way, as an Island record exec than to start your new group off with an album to trailer the film?

Well, two wee problems. The film sort of got held up in editing. Held up thirty years, that is, so no box-office double whammy there. The film was incomprehensible crap, but, hey, this WAS 1971, man, and its' release then could have made a difference to their fortunes.

The big huge of a problem is the music. No vocals, just a few sound effects dubbed on to musical wanderings that don't make a lot of point of progress, and without the sort of instrumental prowess that MIGHT have left Mingus or Clapton get away with it.

I could tell you what I thought of it then & now. But I'd prefer the review to be published by Amazon!!

So, a hugely disappointing start on the new label. Would it get any better?
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Format: Audio CD
Paul Bryant is a ISB's Yahoo! mailing list friend as me, but many of them are very orthodox fans, and too much rigorous and, it seems, "classic". I like not ALL ISB production and some tracks aren't so great and wonderful as someone seem thinking, and other tracks I love they don't like. This "Be glad.." is a very good cd but I don't use the word "essential": not for this CD and not for none of the others. It's funny, fine and some is very great! But the movie isn't a "good" film: it's confused, chaotic, an illogical patchwork of strange ideas and scripts. Enjoy this cd without prejudices and giving a mark! All ISB production is great and poor at the same time: this "Be glad.."is, as others, very delightful
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars 6 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying "Be Glad" deserves a better reputation 21 Aug. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
For some years the record "Be glad ..." has been in my possession, and I've always liked it - though it's seriously flawed in the minds of many others. But I find it strangely satisfying, more satisfying than a lot of the later ISB-records, and it's hard to pinpoint the reason for this.
The long instrumental "The song has no ending" is obviously the hardest to swallow, but it contains beautiful passages. It should be combined with the images of the film, of course, but after several hearings it sticks in the mind, and pleasantly so. "Waiting for you" is quite nice, but rambles on too long, I think. Its lyrics seem too nonsensical - usually Robin's lyrics open a lot of new horizons, but here they fail to do so. Despite its very simple lyrics, or because of them, "See all the people" works quite well, while "All writ down" is a very good Heron song. Easily the best two songs on the record are "Come with me" and "Veshengro". These two I can listen to any time ! Robin's rerecording of the latter is quite good, but the original still sounds better.
True, it is an uneven record. The sleeve notes in the cd version even indicate that apart from "The Song .." it contains the leftovers from earlier sessions. And yet - for me this record receives thumbs up for aging so well and being such a feel-good record with some of the best ISB spirit seeping through. I hope that more ISB-fans will listen to it carefully and find it more rewarding than they had thought possible.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ISB as Film Stars! 18 Feb. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars stringing along 11 Jan. 2016
By Bryan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The title song is 26 minutes long! Actually it's divided into 9 parts but after the first few or so, I get lost and they all blend together.

It opens with a pleasant mandolin passage, female vocals sung in a more enchanted way than usual, and the typical folk tendencies we associate with the creative weirdness that is the Incredible String Band. The vocals are the thing that are most notable in the beginning, but everything's really melodic fortunately so as to confirm my interest in the piece is firmly planted.

3 minutes later flutes and a kazoo-sounding instrument come in and this changes the flow into a more awkward one, but only slightly so. This part lasts a few minutes and is structured with the same sense of melody as the first part. Around the 6-minute point the sitar makes its presence known, and it's played eerily. Then again when is the sitar *not* played eerily? Love this part all the same because once again, the melodic portion of this song is really amazing to me right now. I thought the title song was going to be an incoherent mess based on some of the reviews I've read, but no, just the opposite (at least so far).

Around the 10-minute mark the strings come in with the piano, and they both feed off each other playfully. I enjoy this part, but I wouldn't disagree if someone were to say this stuff lacks focus. I feel like they're going for atmosphere here more than playing anything memorable (during just this part). Then again the piano gets sort of repetitive at the 12-minute mark, but I guess we're supposed to be enjoying the acoustic guitar instead (which is fine because hey, I am!) For the next couple of minutes the guitar and piano sort of ramble but I can see myself liking this more upon further listening.

Around the 15-minute point the violins come in and an unsettling tone comes with it. Wow this violin really reminds me of the stuff from King Crimson's "Providence" (at least when it settles for atmosphere in the beginning- not so much when it turns frantic a moment later). The song feels like it's starting to reach its greatest moment of beauty right after this when the track shifts into flutes and acoustic guitar. Then after the bass guitar comes in and the pace picks up while the flute jams away decently. I feel Asian vibes around the 17-minute mark when the track settles into a peaceful lullaby of sorts. Actually this moment seems to be caught between a jam and lullaby.

Whoa! Now the song takes us in a very different direction with the saxophone shortly before the 19-minute mark (or horns). This is saxophone creating a mood- one that feels chaotic. I sort of like it though. Perhaps the finest moment of the piece arrives 20 minutes in. This is *very* beautifully written material. It takes all the lullaby and instrumental variety played so far and combines it all into a well-written piece. Afterwards the keyboard comes in and it too is magnificent for its sailing-like vibes. The violins and flutes that play along with this stuff are really sad. For the life of me I can't figure out what other rock band from the late 60's wrote music almost exactly like this. This is going to bug me for a while until I figure it out!

The 22-23 minute portion is just REALLY good to me. The song sort of breaks apart and goes for some kind of Middle Eastern chanting after this, but in some bizarre way this fits in really well with the creativity that has made up this 26-minute epic piece so far. Then the song goes for a fairly normal up tempo sitar part with female chanting to close it out. Awesome song overall but quite exhausting!

"Waiting For You" opens with mystical mandolin before going into a more carnival/happy direction when the vocals come in. "I'm waiting for the painter when his colors were gone" is a strange moment, but the line "I'm waiting for the soldiers at war, I'm waiting for a royal decision" is a nice change of pace (something that the Incredible String Band excels at- rapid pace changing) as is the tongue in cheek "I'm waiting for the sun to snore" line. This song is caught somewhere between early Kinks playfulness and country/folk. "Let the universe roll, I'm a simple soul and I'm waiting for you" is so pleasant. "I'm waiting for God to take a holiday" is another good line. This is a really creative song lyrically.

"Veshengro" has a darker tone. It seems like the dark acoustic stuff from the Incredible String Band is quite extraordinary and noteworthy. It stands out the most when listening to one of their albums, and is some of the eeriest stuff the band ever wrote. Now "Veshengro" probably isn't as dark as other songs in the bands discography, and in fact is often pleasant during the line "With the nutrnegs and oak apples of her rosary, that counts the praying sand, who cradles the earth and water in the hollow of her hand. I was a wasp on a nettled hill, ten thousand brothers in a nest of fungus paper, and every sopping apple held its cider sweet for my thin tongue" . This song describes what makes this band so unique- on the surface it's just an acoustic campfire song, but further listening reveals several tempo changes and creative lyrics that enhance it WAY higher than your ordinary folk tune.

"All Writ Down" opens with a WONDERFUL guitar line. A lot of feeling in that one part. Oh yeah, this song features the other singer of the group I like. The one I mentioned in another review who, in my minority opinion, resembles Pete Townshend somewhat. "Oh but did I cry, did I cry, for I thought that those days would just fade and die, but every cell in my body has it all writ down, every smile and every frown, and all those good time girls" is such a devastating line the way it's sung so passionately. Actually the "but did I cry" part is sad, and the rest of the line is more playful.

"Come With Me" is a peaceful lullaby about sailing. The acoustic guitar and violins are gorgeous, but the male/female vocals combined makes it a true winner of a song. This song has a way of making me feel overwhelmed with its gentleness. "See All the People" opens with guitar notes not much different from the ones in Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence". There's layers of beautiful guitar playing all over the place which makes this song pretty awesome. Too bad it takes a while for the vocals to arrive and when they do they never go anywhere with a purpose.

Overall, well Be Glad for the Song Has No Ending isn't the best album the Incredible String Band ever made, but I wouldn't call it weak at all. It's much better than I thought it would be. If the band went downhill, it didn't happen yet. A must buy.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth Buying For the First Five Tracks 15 Feb. 2004
By K. Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
"Be Glad" has some incredibly beautiful tunes by The Incredible String Band, and were it not for the final track, I would go so far as to label this my favorite String Band album along with "Hangman's Beautiful Daughter."
I have read in several different places how track #6, "Song Has No Ending," can be appreciated if seen in its intended context, that being the film "Be Glad For the Song Has No Ending." I finally got the opportunity to see the film, and I agree that it works well within that domain. However, even after seeing the film, I cannot honestly say I much enjoy turning on the stereo and giving it a listen without the visuals. Save for the first two minutes of "Song Has No Ending" (and the first two minutes are beautiful!), this was one piece they really should have left in the film and off the album.
The rest of this album is totally enchanting. "Come With Me" is one of the most soothing, beautiful songs I have ever heard by The Incredible String Band. "All Writ Down" is classic Mike Heron at his best. "Veshengra" takes us through a trippy but playful journey into past lives.
Another enjoyable song in the "silly vein" as only The String Band can deliver is "Waiting For You." I have heard so much modern folk music that tries way too hard to be playful, silly and absurd, and it almost always comes off with an embarrassing THUD! I must confess I don't know why The Incredible String Band is the exception to my "playful, silly and absurd" rule, but they are a magnificent exception, best embodied in this song. Seriously, I've played this piece----- which speaks of being everything from guava farmer, snake charmer, a lately wed and turnip head----- for friends who are not folk aficionados, and even they would exclaim "What the----????," albeit with huge grins on their faces, followed by their demanding an encore when the song ended.
Yes, I recommend this CD based purely on five songs. But these five songs are worth the full price. This is vintage Incredible String Band.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Relaxed Incredibles 16 Jun. 2000
By S. GODFREY - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
An easy-going record this (for ISB that is) with the notable exception of the haunting and mysterious "Vishangro" - one of Robin's finest songs which would not be out of place on Wee Tam & the Big Huge. "Waiting for You" is a fun song which actually works, and "All Writ Down" chugs along nicely, a surprisingly "normal" song and very easy on the ear. Much more challenging is the soundtrack to the fantasy sequence from the film...I must admit it held little appeal for me until I finally got to see the film on video. It makes a bit more sense then, although the overall feel, in keeping with the film, is rather amateurish. Still, a welcome release on CD and worth adding to the collection. Great sleeve notes, too.
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