Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gandalf - 1969 - Gandalf

Gandalf
1969
Gandalf





01. Golden Earrings
02. Hang On To A Dream
03. Never Too Far
04. Scarlet Ribbons
05. You Upset The Grace Of Living
06. Can You Travel In The Dark Alone
07. Nature Boy
08. Tiffany Rings
09. Me About You
10. I Watch The Moon


Dave Bauer: Drums
Bob Muller: Bass
Peter Sando: Guitar
Frank Hubach: Piano, Electric Piano, Harpsichord, Organ

With spellbinding, atmospheric songs which spin from soft dreamscapes into blistering fuzz guitar breaks, Gandalf casts a powerful spell. Led by singer/guitarist Peter Sando, the group was signed by Lovin’ Spoonful producers Charlie Koppelman & Don Rubin & conjured their sole, self-titled album for Capitol in late 1967. One of the rarest major label psychedelic releases, Gandalf (not to be confused with the heavy metal outfit with the same name) features swirls of Hammond B3 organ, caressing vibraphone runs & electric sitar on Sando’s originals as well as imaginative recastings of songs by Tim Hardin, Gary Bonner, Alan Gordon & Eden Ahbez.

Gandalf’s self-titled album has some attractive baroque-psychedelia with a spacey air, though its quality depends very much on the standard of the material. Generally they’re better the more they rely on the slightly weird and spacey production, as on “Scarlet Ribbons” and their cover of Tim Hardin’s “Hang on to a Dream.” On tracks like “You Upset the Grace of Living” there’s a nice balance of melody and quasi-classical keyboards on the cusp between pop, progressive rock and psychedelia. “Can You Travel in the Dark Alone,” one of the few originals (by Peter Sando), is nice, harmonic sunshine pop with a slightly experimental feel, along the lines of some of the better things being done by Californian cult figures like Gary Usher and Curt Boettcher at the time. Other selections are nothing special, however.

Beautiful Sundazed reissue of this holy US 1969 psych album. Dreamy and trippy US '60s psych that has swirling keyboards and drifting guitars all over a selection of acidified melodic cover versions ("Golden Earrings" and "Hang On To A Dream") as well as brilliant originals ("Can You Travel In The Dark Alone"). An album that is worthy of it's reputation.

GANDALF, formerly the RAHGOOS prior to their LP release, appeared at various New York clubs throughout the '60's; such as "The Phone Booth", Scott Muni's "Rolling Stone", "The Electric Circus", Murray the K's "World", and the legendary "Night Owl Cafe" in Greenwich Village. It was there that the RAHGOOS met songwriters Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon who brought the band to the attention of record producers Koppelman & Rubin. K&R signed the band and immediately started work on an album for their newly formed "Hot Biscuit Disc Company" label which was distributed through Capitol. K&R suggested various name changes which did not sit well with the group. However, they ultimately decided to forfeit their name and local fan recognition to appease K&R.  During a gig at the "Rolling Stone", drummer Davey Bauer was passing the time reading Tolkien's "The Hobbit" while the rest of the band went through the ritual of brainstorming a band name. Davey chimed in, "How about "GANDALF AND THE WIZARDS".  That name stuck. The project was delayed after the deal with Capitol fell apart. In the interim, the band lost faith and also dissolved. Subsequently, K&R & Capitol parted ways with the agreement that two more LP's would be released on the Capitol label, and GANDALF was one of them. It was finally released in early 1969, with no band to back it and little promotion. Two songs were penned by guitarist Peter Sando and one, "Can You Travel in the Dark Alone", received a  flurry of FM play. The late Allison Steele, "The Nightbird", on WNEW-FM New York, would introduce the song with a lengthy dose of her inimitable psychedelic poetry.  The album has been bootlegged several times on vinyl, and finally legitimately re-released on CD by the UK based See For Miles label in 1997 and now, back in the USA on SUNDAZED in 2002. The single, "Golden Earrings", also appears on the UK Temple Records compilation disc "Psychedelic Frequencies" (TMPCD027). "Hang On To A Dream" is included in "Hippy Dip" on EMI (CDEM 1623).


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