Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Incredible String Band|
Be Glad for the Song Has No Ending
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop, Rock
Satisfying "Be Glad" deserves a better reputation
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
ISB as Film Stars!
(3 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Well Worth Buying For the First Five Tracks
K. Brown | Walnut, Ca USA | 02/15/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""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."