The Incredible String Band on German TV’s Beat Club

By Johnny Foreigner

Here’s a three song playlist from The Incredible String Band’s performance on the German TV show Beat Club, recorded September 1970 but not broadcast.

Beat Club was a German music program that ran from September 1965 to December 1972. Co-created by Gerhard Augustin and Mike Leckebusch, the show premiered in 1965 with Augustin and Uschi Nerke hosting.

By the time the Incredible String Band performed, the series was known for incorporating psychedelic (read: cheesy) visual effects during the taped performances. This one is no exception.

The band is in fine form here, still having fun  -despite being recently introduced to Scientology and the crooked music business. As the Scotsman will toast, “To honest men and bonnie lassies!” Well, the lassies were bonnie, anyway.

In these clips, the band plays “Empty Pocket Blues,” “Everything’s Fine Right Now,” and “Irish Jigs.” The singing, particularly Mike and Robin’s respective hi and lo, is fantastic. Both guys were also great pickers, and by this time Rose Simpson, had learned to play a competent guitar.

The “Irish Jigs” clip is terrific, though it sounds more Scot than Irish,. The clip includes some wonderfully kooky dancing (less Riverdance, more Deadhead spinner footwork) from the lovely Licorice McKechnie. I’m a really sucker for Scottish Highland dance. Love it – especially  when the dancer holds hands above his/her head (see Licky at 02:30) with the thumb touching the middle finger, the other three fingers extended in the air. This signifies something important to the Scots, perhaps, “My clan is planning to slaughter your family tonight, Campbell.” With The Incredible String Band, it may have meant something more Boudin Noir en Francais than Scottish haggis: “Okay, so who is sleeping with who, tonight?”

Where are the band members today? Both Heron and Williamson still perform. Rose Simpson left the music biz and lives quietly with her family in Wales. Christina ‘Licorice’ McKechnie was last seen in 1987 hitchhiking across the Arizona desert in 1987.

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