The Incredible String Band - The Hangman's Daughter (1968)

Posted by Amelia Swhizzagers On 3:13 AM

The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter was the third album by the Incredible String Band, released in March 1968. It is regarded by many critics as a quintessential example of hippie culture, with its promotion of ideas such as communal living, eastern mysticism and pantheism; though this slightly undermines the inherent skill of musicianship found on the album.

The album was a major commercial success in the UK, staying in the charts for 27 weeks with a peak of #5. It has sold 800,000 copies in the UK to date. In the U.S., the ISB always remained underground and the album struggled to #161 on the Billboard 200. However, it was nominated for a Grammy in the folk music category.

The album featured a series of vividly dreamlike Robin Williamson songs, such as "The Minotaur's Song", a surreal music-hall parody told from the point of view of the mythical beast, and its centrepiece was Mike Heron's "A Very Cellular Song", a 13-minute reflection on life, love and amoebas; its complex structure incorporated a Bahamian spiritual ("I Bid You Goodnight") and an adaptation of a Sikh hymn ("May the pure light within you"). It had a layered production, using multi-track recording techniques and a very wide array of instruments from all corners of the world, including sitar, gimbri, shenai, oud, harpsichord, panpipes and kazoo.

The album's cover art - which on original LP issues was the back cover, as the front showed just Williamson and Heron - consists of a photograph taken on Christmas Day 1967. It shows both musicians, their girlfriends Licorice McKechnie and Rose Simpson, friends Roger Marshall and Nicky Walton, several children of their friend Mary Stewart, and Robin's dog Leaf.

Regarding the title, Mike Heron said at the time:- "The hangman is death and the beautiful daughter is what comes after. Or you might say that the hangman is the past twenty years of our life and the beautiful daughter is now, what we are able to do after all these years. Or you can make up your own meaning - your interpretation is probably just as good as ours."

01. Koeeoddi There (4:41)
02. The Minotaur's Song (3:18)
03. Witches Hat (2:30)
04. A Very Cellular Song (12:55)
05. Mercy I Cry City (2:40)
06. Waltz of the New Moon (5:01)
07. The Water Song (2:47)
08. Three Is a Green Crown (7:40)
09. Swift as the Wind (4:50)

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