I Remember It All From Before …

Long term readers of this site will be familiar with my fascination with the Incredible String Band. The first band I truly loved as a teenager, I keep coming back to them, thinking I’ve left them behind then having something trigger another wave of affection.

This year it was when my friend Rossco played a Facebook Live set entirely composed of Ronnie Lane covers. I mentioned to him the idea of doing a set of String Band songs and we took it from there. Years back, I put together a couple of medleys for the launch of Adrian Whittaker’s book about the band. These were my starting point but I eased in a few more bits of songs and came up with the two medleys I present to you below.

Why medleys? Many of the String Band’s songs ran to ten or fifteen minutes, like little suits of songs stitched together. Some would work with solo voice and guitar, some wouldn’t. If I wanted to cover some reasonable ground in 25 minutes I would have to selectively take a pinch from this song, a peck from that.

The first set is as I performed it on the night. The second, with lower volume and a few mistakes, is a rehearsal I recorded for the second set. When it came time to perform the second set, my phone ran out of charge five minutes into the performance. Excruciating. Oh well.

If you don’t know the String Band and this piques your interest, I have written a short book called The Ocean That Only Begins – The Incredible String Band for Newcomers.

Medley 1
Medley 2

I Remember It All from Before

I Remember It All from Before

I’ve probably never been as fanatical a fan of any musicians as I was of the Incredible String Band. They were that kind of band, polarising concertgoers and audients between adulation and complete incomprehension. In 2003 my friend Adrian put out a book about the band, and invited me to play at the London launch. Rather than play complete songs (some could stretch to 15m) I ran together a couple of sets of my favourite bits, which I later recorded in one take with Gil Murray.

While I still have a lot of respect and affection for the String Band, I think I probably worked the fanboy out my system during all this.

I’ve added to the two parts of the medley a couple of other tracks. Wild Sea was originally just a snippet at the end of Robin Williamson’s song Creation on the Changing Horses album. Gil and I recorded it the same evening as the main medley.

Spirit Beautiful was recorded a few years previously for an American tribute album; it’s a Mike Heron song from his album Smiling Men With Bad Reputations, and I had Mike’s percussionist Dave Haswell on the session.

4 thoughts on “I Remember It All from Before”

  1. We may have discussed this before but I’d forgotten you were an ISB fan. I was converted at about the time of Wee Tam and they are still my favourite band of all time. Although I’m basically a hardened rationalist, the ISB still bring out the romantic in me, reminding me that I am a child of the sixties.

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