The summit of the Incredible String Bands (ISB) pioneering musical reputation was during the sixties when the likes of specialist music presenters such as John Peel and also bands / artists like the Beatles, Rolling Stones Led Zeppelin, Billy Connolly and Bob Dylan all cast an inspirational acknowledgement towards them and their unique blend of hippy like Eastern mystic psychedelic folk. Although "Changing Horses" was the fifth released album by the band it is in fact fairly representative of their entire output. I say this because in my opinion there was little or no progression to the complexity of their music throughout their lifespan. True that there songs were lengthy self-penned hypnotic male vocal meanderings with accompanying high pitched female trimmings (certainly no renditions of Green sleeves and the like). But without doubt they were filled with a certain ultimate charm and technical simplicity. Listening to this album today some forty years since its release it is actually hard to understand fully how popular ISB were in their helicon days. Obviously though it was due to a spirit of the age and with it the freedom to cut loose musicaly albeit with a supporting commune spirit.
Each of the vocals, over the six tracks, on this album are sung with an air of moving tenderness but there is throughout a varied quality in terms of vocal delivery, with pitch and projection often tending towards the badly "off key" symbol. Whilst the structure of the music is generally fairly simple in concept several changes in direction are thankfully incorporated to lift the music to more listenable levels especially the high falsetto female harmonies. In similar fashion too the array of different instruments utilised, such as Chinese banjo, sitar and kazoo, are interesting to pick out and savour. But it must be said that the overall standard of musicianship is quite limited without any notable outbreaks of lead guitar or keyboards and in general the global effect is one of just communal togetherness.
The one big exception is the truly magnificent 16 min long last track entitled 'Creation' which is beautifully atmospheric, full of harmony, complete with subtle time changes and incorporates lots of nice ideas and is probably worth the cost of the CD for this track alone.
Summary: Guessing that most vinyl copies of this album are trashed this is a good historical investment of post hippy folky psyche for music completest's
Artwork: A beautifully packaged and assembled booklet as usual from BGO.
1. Big Ted.
2. White Bird.
3. Dust Be Diamonds.
4. Sleepers Awake.
5. Mr and Mrs.
Robin Williams -Vocals, Washboard, Piano
Mike Heron -Vocals, Guitar, Piano,Vibraphone, Percussion, Sitar
Rose Simpson -Bass
Licorice McKechnie -Vocals, Percussion, Kazoo, Piano