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on 18 May 2016
Only bought it for Queen Junita track. Some of the others have a very poor recording quality.
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on 6 October 2017
Very Good
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on 3 October 2009
This fills a few gaps of songs I've heard about (but not heard). I now understand why "El rato" never made "U". Why didn't they put the Julie Felix show performances (Half- remarkable is on YouTube so must be there s/w). With all the other ISB postumous CDs I have now made one pretty good compilation CD!
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on 12 March 2009
Yet more archive material from those magical minstrels who dwell upon the edges of the fading celtic twilight,well Edinburgh,these rescued and well restored outtakes serve to bolster their legend further.
Robin Williamson and Mike Heron make music that runs from Leadbelly through to Musical theatre via what is now called Acid Folk and the Avant Garde.
Their no material from the first Line up which featured their Co-founder Clive Palmer sadly, but does feature Rose Simpson( now a former Mayoress of Welshpool), Licorice McKechnie and Actor/ Singer Malcolm Le Maistre
The First CD Covers the classic period 66-68 Robins take on Leadbelly Relax your Mind the hard to find Lover Man,All too much for me (which includes some Blind Willie Johnson songs inserted with in the song by Robin),The Iron Stone and others from the Wee Tam Big Huge era with an epic version of Maya from US radio with some interesting phasing courtesy of an over enthusatic Sound engineer .
CD 2 opens with a forgotten instrumental the delightful Penwern then is followed by a live performance of U Live material the comedic El Ratto and several other lost gems including a marathon Queen Jaunita and her Fisherman Lover from a remix from long delated compilation.We also get to hear one of Likky's Songs too the haunting Secret Temple.
It closes with the enigmatic Curlew which sounds like it was recorded on some far off Hebridean Isle but was recorded at Island Studios in London.
Treasures abound on this collection but it is one for the dedicated fan
but then again they still deserve to be listened to as true originators of a truly unique sound.
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on 7 January 2009
The first thing you notice about this gem is of course the cover photo, evidently from the 'I Looked Up' photoshoot, judging from the clothing worn by Robin, Mike, Likky & Rose. I always loved the back cover of the original UK vinyl of I Looked Up, and it's nice to see a photo from the same session. The whole package is lovingly put together with many other unseen (by me, at least) photos. I particularly enjoyed the skating ones, Malcolm and Stone Monkey and the back cover table pic where the band are at their most photogenic.

And there's much more to the package. The informative and illuminating sleeve notes reveal the sources of the tracks and other info, and there are notes on the restoration and cleaning-up of sound. Indeed, when you first listen to this double CD, you notice the sound quality is amazingly good, even on the tracks that are not from conventional studio sources.

A look at the track list tells us we're in for a journey almost right through the history of the ISB by way of mostly previously unheard or alternate material, from pre-5000 Spirits to outtakes from Earthspan.

I've heard the Balmore Hoard tapes before, but never as clear as the version of Relax Your Mind by Robin which opens CD1. And by the time I got to Mike's Lover Man (track 2 - a fully realised outtake from 5000 Spirits), I realised I was going to be treated to hearing for the first time material by my heroes at the height of their vocal powers. What really shines out for me is the quality of Robin's & Mike's voices, their power and expression. I listened with a grin and trod lightly on air, just like coming out of an ISB concert circa 1970.

A special mention for All Too Much For Me. I'd heard other versions and always considered it one of Robin's more throwaway pieces, but here on this WT & TBH outtake, it's a more subtle version in keeping with that classic double album. Indeed, including the two Blind Willie Johnston songs that accompany it, it would have fitted the spiritual mood of Wee Tam very well, methinks. Both Robin & Mike in fine voice again.

The Iron Stone appears as an alternative take from the Big Huge and is fluent and delightful, before we get the four tracks from the WBAI US radio session: The Head (a cathartic recitation by Robin over effects by Mike & Likky - lyric reproduced in booklet alongside Robin's illustration originally included on the WT &TBH insert), an extended Douglas Traherne Harding from Mike (surely one of his best), a version of See All The People superior to the Be Glad one with Likky featuring on percussion on a jam coda and CD 1 ends with an intense and powerful Maya, featuring the intended, extended ending cut from the Big Huge.

Further delights await us on CD2. The instrumental Penwern begins (an outtake from Be Glad which I'd never heard anywhere before), followed by two absolute gems from a live recording of U and missed off the album: El Ratto and Long Long Road. It's said you can't fully appreciate El Ratto without seeing Malcolm perform it, but the laughter fair spills from Robin's guitar and vocal, and Mike delivers one of his most soulful vocals ever on the magnificent Long Long Road, here only just one verse with his guitar, but what a verse! These U recordings suffer a little from the recording quality, but a tremendous job has been done to raise Robin & Mike's voices and guitars above any background noise or mechanical interference.

All Writ Down has long been a favourite of mine and the version here is neither the mono one from the Be Glad soundtrack nor the B-Side of the Big Ted single, but yet a third, and probably the best.

This is followed by Queen Juanita and Her Fishermen Lover. I have the Seasons They Change LP on which this I Looked Up outtake was eventually released, but I guess a lot of people won't have this otherwise elusive track. Although light in subject matter, it is an epic 16 minute tour de force for all four members of the band, and features some beautiful melodies and arrangements. The sleeve notes are enlightening about the many weird and varied instruments that (I think) the ISB used exclusively for this song.

Poerty Play #1 is something I've not heard since I saw it live in concert.
Well, the dancing was live, the music (by Mike, with Stan Schnier and Susie Watson-Taylor) pre-recorded. This goes through several moods, abstract and experimental, including a particularly delightful one with Mike chanting.

The album ends with two Earthspan outtakes: Likky's Secret Temple appears in a more assured version than on the previously heard BBC session recording. She bows out of the ISB with her most enigmatic lyric and mysterious song, somehow fitting and as equally haunting as Robin's beautifully arranged instrumental Curlew; Earthspan would have been even more of a masterpiece had these two not been excised.

So, to conclude, a huge thanks to all concerned for this labour of love. You may think you have or know most of this material, but not these versions; like me, I hope you'll discover anew the wonder of Robin and Mike's songs and vocals. Together with Across the Airwaves, Tricks of the Senses forms an invaluable history of the ISB to accompany their official albums. These are sounds your ears have lost - retrieve and cherish them.
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on 25 December 2010
Ahem...although being a fan since the 60's I find this one a bit hard to enjoy. Yes. of course it's fun to listen to anything by ISB, and still this is something for more hard-cores than me.
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on 29 December 2008
This is a really excellent collection of rare tracks and outtakes from the Incredible String Band in their prime. It forms (exactly as it claims) almost an alternative history of the best period of ISB. Just listen to Maya - worth the price on it's own! If you love the String Band this is just essential.
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on 22 February 2009
in the past forever! ISB is the must for all folk collectors. This is an great double cd's with interesting inedits!
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on 27 July 2010
Sorry, -fellow ISB fans, although I love all of the early stuff I've yet heard from these (musically very talented) minstrels, I just couldn't get on with this particular album.

After just one play, I immediately found far too much to dislike on both CDs, -- to the extent that (unusually for me) I now wish to return the x2 CD set to the seller. Shame, as I was really looking forward to owning a new album by one of my favourite bands from yesteryear.

Apart from low production standards (ie: recording quality) I just found many of the tracks less 'inspired' than those I have on other recordings. I think I see now why many of the tracks here weren't included on other albums, --perhaps because they weren't up to standard?

It's great that other fans really enjoy 'Tricks of the Senses' but for me, well, --it's a more like 'IBS' than ISB!
;)
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