Thursday, September 14, 2006

Gandalf The Grey "The Grey Wizard Am I"
(US Psychedelic Folkrock 1972)

One could make the argument that J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings fantasy trilogy (published 1954-1955) had as significant a formative influence on the emergent hippie generation as did Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) or Joseph Heller's Catch-22 (1961). Certainly you can hear it in the twee archaisms of British folk from the era and in the more whimsical, otherworldly strains of British psychedelia (the Incredible String Band comes immediately to mind), and, in time, it would saturate '70s prog rock. It is right there, too, as a catalyst in American folk-rock (perhaps Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair/Canticle," probably the Byrds' "Renaissance Fair") and Baroque pop (Sagittarius' Present Tense, Love's "Forever Changes"), and ultimately in its acid folk (Perry Leopold's dark masterpiece Christian Lucifer). But Chris Wilson took the inspiration to its logical extreme on The Grey Wizard Am I. His nom de guerre, appropriated from the novels, is the ultimate homage, while many of the lyrics on the album were directly inspired by Tolkien's imaginary landscapes as well, and even by some of his characters. The remainder convert the ins and outs of Wilson's bohemian life in Greenwich Village into a sort of fantasy world of its own. And it is all quite delightfully, if earnestly, done -- or, to be less precious about it, The Grey Wizard Am I is often a transfixing, bewitching little relic, particularly on such songs as "My Elven Home," "Go and See," and "Sunshine Down the Line." It's not likely to have a wide appeal -- anything this eccentric, unworldly, and chimeric, no matter how well done, probably has a limited audience -- and there is not a great deal of melodic variation from song to song to push it into the upper echelon of similar recordings. Nevertheless, The Grey Wizard Am I is a lovely little pastry for fans of obscure '60s and '70s folkadelica, ideal music for playing dress-up to, or for daydreaming. ~ Stanton Swihart, All Music Guide


Blogger Ed said...

I have the heyoka reissue and now I can put it on CD. Thank you, for me one of the best psyc folk record from USA.

15 September, 2006 04:18  
Anonymous arbor said...

Anyway this could be reposted on I've been getting a "all drives are full right now" on for about a week now. Would love to here this.

16 November, 2006 08:21  
Anonymous discus said...

Please, please, re-upload this gem! Many thanks in advance!

11 April, 2007 02:08  
Anonymous Mike said...

You can listen to this album and other Tolkien-inspired music at Shire Radio. Here is the link: Shire Radio at Live365. You will be surprised at how many psychedelic era albums were made. There was the great classic Frodo Lives! by the Magic Ring and Elfin Chimes by the All Saved Freak Band.

16 April, 2007 01:37  
Blogger Alex B said...

Being honest: this album is tooooo boring. All songs are tooo similar, an endless repetition of the same ideas, atmosfere and sounds, from first to last track. A pity, because Gandalf is a good singer of pastoral folk.

14 June, 2009 07:50  

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