Guide to British Music of the 1960s

September 2018

Book Review

Smiling Men with Bad Reputations by Paul Norbury

This book is a very useful companion to someone listening to the Incredible String Band. It is not a full biography of the band. Indeed, Mike Heron's share of You Know What You Could Be gives a far more detailed insight into the early years of the Incredible String Band. However, it does cover the band's full career and the solo careers of Robin and Mike up to the present day.

The book follows a format of a brief biography of the band's career during each year followed by an appreciation of the albums released during that year or in some cases, live performances from that year that were later released on CD. Some of the Incredible String Band's lyrics can be quite complex and the author looks to explain these without going too philosophical. Where relevant, quotes from Mike and Robin from interviews in various magazines including the print beGlad add to the understanding of the songs.

The book is ideal for long-term fans of the String Band who are looking to understand more abut the songs and the albums as well as new listeners who wish to delve more into the songs, influences and 1960s lives. While Mike and Robin are, without doubt, the principal songwriters and protagonists, there is plenty of information about other members of the band such as Rose, Likky, Clive, Malcolm and more as well as those who were involved in the band's career.

Today, the Incredible String Band could be considered to be one of the least-known major artists having released many widely-appreciated albums, played at Woodstock and having influential supporters such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. The book goes some way to unravelling the mysteries of the Incredible String Band.

Published November 2017

Grosvenor House Publishing

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