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The Incredible String Band - Earthspan CD (album) cover

EARTHSPAN

The Incredible String Band

 

Prog Folk

2.65 | 10 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars By the time of "Earthspan", ISB was losing whatever "incredible" status they may have had among critics, not to mention the cult following that sent their disks up the British charts, albeit only to the lower regions of the Billboard in the US. They began to take on a more rock orientation which might have helped them reach a less rarefied audience, but their increasing involvement in Scientology really didn't help get the message across to fans.

Still, the irritating feyness of their earlier material was a welcome casualty, and "Restless Night" and "Sunday Song" are among the best songs I have heard from them. Finally, the band is at least using strings as befits their name, especially in the powerful outro to "Sunday Song" and their rendition of "Black Jack Davey", with a healthy dollop of Appalachian whimsy. "Banks of Sweet Italy" exploits Licorice's childlike voice to excellent effect. The songs are much more tuneful than we are used to from ISB, which might disappoint old fans. They certainly are less distinctive here, but they remain plenty recognizable nonetheless. There are certainly plenty examples of falling off the wagon, as in the opening 2 yawn-fests and the dreadful cabaret of "Moon Hang Low". But shanties like "Sailor and the Dancer" go a long way to freshening the scent.

"Earthspan" gives us a much needed, more grounded ISB, for the most part, which is probably as good as it gets. A good effort.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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