Mike Heron - vocals, piano, guitar, percussion; Robin Williamson - vocals, guitar, gimbri, percussion, whistles, fiddle, woodwinds; Rose Simpson - bass, vocals, percussion; Licorice McKechnie - vocals, percussion
The Incredible String Band was a Scottish duo, comprised of Mike Heron and Robin Williamson, whose highly eclectic songwriting and early use of exotic instrumentation conveyed a folkish charm and childlike innocence that reflects the 1960s counterculture spirit as well as any other band. Now considered psychedelic-folk pioneers, the seriousness of some of their topics, infused with an inherent innocence, would endear their music to the likes of The Beatles and Bob Dylan.
At the time of this 1970 Fillmore West performance, The Incredible String Band had expanded to a quartet, which included Heron and Williamson's girlfriends, Rose Simpson and Licorice McKechnie, who primarily added additional vocal and percussive elements to the group's acoustic sound.
The music was undergoing a transitional and more experimental stage, which in part reflected their interest in Scientology. They had created an ambitious double album, U, and toured it earlier in the year to mixed reviews. The performances which preceded the album were ambitious, multi-media affairs featuring the Stone Monkey Dance Troupe. Generally panned by critics and receiving less than enthusiastic response from longtime fans, the dancers were soon eliminated. When they performed this new material for the Fillmore West audience, the focus was on the music alone.
The set primarily showcases the new material, with all but two songs on this recording sourced from U. It begins in progress, unfortunately catching only the last two minutes of "Cutting The Strings," one of Williamson's more engaging and unusual compositions. What follows is also unlike anything in ISB's previous recordings. The lengthy piano ballad "Light In Time Of Darkness" and its coda, "Glad To See You," are both quite beautiful and represent a shining moment for Heron. "Hiram Pawnitof" brings some welcome humorous relief, but like the next song, "Walking Along With You," tends to drag on longer than necessary. Things pick up again with Heron's engaging "This Moment," one of the standout tracks from their previous album, I Looked Up. Williamson's "Robot Blues" also adds some humorous touches to the set, before they end with Heron's mystical "Log Cabin In The Sky," one of the band's classic and most engaging songs from their Wee Tam and the Big Huge album.