We are starting our new series of essential albums for your record collection with The Incredible String Band's 1967 album "The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion."
Following the Incredible String Band's debut release in June 1966, the band fell apart immediately when Clive Palmer left England to travel through Afghanistan and Robin Williamson ventured to Morocco with his then-girlfriend, Licorice McKechnie. In late 1966, however, Williamson ran out of money and was forced back to the U.K. where he got back together with Mike Heron and they reformed the band as a duo without Palmer.
With his arrival, Williamson brought back a wide variety of exotic instruments of African and Middle Eastern origin. Mike Heron, as well, had begun to broaden his musical horizons by experimenting with the sitar in Williamson's absence. The band began working on their second album with producer Joe Boyd and a bunch of guest musicians, including Licorice and Danny Thompson, later a founding member of British folk-band Pentangle.
The 5000 Spirits became a timeless, stone psychedelic masterpiece, rooted in the British islands ancient traditions of mythology and folklore, but using a wide range of exotic instruments, including sitar (India), gimbri (Moroccan lute), and mandolin.
The trippy psychedelic album cover was designed by Dutch artists Simon Posthuma and Marijke Koger, better known as The Fool. Postuma and Koger were discovered by English photographer Karl Ferris among the hippie community on the Spanish island of Ibiza in 1966, and soon became famous in England for their fantastical and mystical fashion design. They opened a studio in London as "The Fool" and began working for a number of bands, including The Hollies, The Move, Cream, Procol Harum and The Beatles.
For The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album, The Fool was originally contracted with designing the cover art, but when their submission was eventually rejected they were left with the design of the psychedelic red, pink and white inner sleeve that came with the first UK pressing of the Beatles album.
The most desirable release is the original UK pressing (July 1967) on the Elektra label (EUK/EUKS 7257). First pressings come with the orange/red Elektra label with black lettering. Near mint copies are valued RARE 1 in the CVinyl.com Price Guide with a median value of 75 €.
The original 1967 US release on Elektra EKS 74010 (same for the German release) was issued with the golden Elektra label. It is valued SCARCE with a median value of 50 €.