Gandalf the Grey
Band members Related acts
- Gandalf the Grey
(aka Chris Wilson) - vocals, guitar
|- none known|
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Title: Gandalf the Grey I Am
Company: Grey Wizard Music
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: minor ring, edge and corner wear
Geez, you somehow just knew this album had to have been recorded in New York ... So what's the deal here?
Singer/songwriter Chris Wilson started his professional musical career working Greenwich Village clubs. Briefly fronting The Other Half (not to be confused with the California-based band), Wilson eventually recording a couple of obscure early-'70s singles under his given name. By 1972 he'd acquired a nasty J.R.R. Tolken/The Hobbit habit, somehow deciding that mutating into Gandalf the Grey was the route to popular success and riches.
Just to prepare you, here's a blurb pulled from Wilson's website: "Many Years ago J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a series of books starting with "The Hobbit" and ending with a Trilogy called "The Lord Of The Rings". Many people realized it was prophesy of the next coming, and what would transpire. While many others only saw them as fantasy, those who sought the information, found it in these books. The Dunedain are out there now, in the form of John Wayne, and other icons, who guide us in ways to live ... our heroes become our role models, and it is through Film, Books and Tape, that we learn much of how to act, especially at a time like now, when the Evil ones have learned so well the skills of deception and misleading the innocent ...
My warning to you is this: The devil used to be so different, so easy to see, but this time he wants to win, and he has learned to hide himself and his actions in those who are unexpected ... White doesn't always mean good these days, Justice is turned upside down and the crooks are in charge, and they want to win ...
As the years have gone on, cartoons have been made to illustrate this special story about the battle of good and evil: Truth and Lies as it were, and now, a film company has committed today's technology to the telling of this great saga.
Because, as the Wizard, I am involved in these events, I am supporting these films, because the more information you have, the stronger you are.....When you see these films use them to identify those in real life who would work Good or Evil here on earth. Orcs, Dwarves, Elves, Men, and even Hobbits are around us as we speak, you just have to learn how to spot them...(HINT: these are character traits, not physical ones)."
While it won't tell you much about the music, here's another blurb lifted from Wilson's website: "This album was made on a small Sony stereo reel to reel, one instrument at a time, starting with the drums. After playing an instrument, I would send that music to the other side, and add the next instrument or vocal, going from left to right, until it was completed. I played and sang everything, and recorded it in my bedroom at 57 West 8th Street in Greenwich Village, Apt. 1a. To this day, under the dropped ceiling, there is a full size map of Middle Earth, which I hand painted, extending over the entire living room."
Okay, your affection for or distaste of Tolken is going to have a major impact on how you feel about 1972's "The Grey Wizard I Am". Clearly, if you're into "The Lord of the Rings" scene, you'll be partial to material such as the title track, "My Elven Home" and "From the Grey Havens". If you're not a fan, this album will drive you into the wall. So what's the music like? Well if you can overlook the Tolken influences (abundant on the first side), musically the set's goofy, though surprisingly attractive. Largely a solo effort, Gandalf/Wilson wrote all 11 tracks and handled most of the instrumentation. Wilson has a thin, but decent voice which fits in well with the set's low tech production values (be sure to check out the spastic drumming throughout). Usually description such as acid-folk are fairly meaningless, but here that seems like a pretty accurate category for material such as "Go and See", "I Don't Know Why the People" and "Sunshine Down the Line" (the latter two sporting nice fuzz guitar solos). Self financed, Wilson reportedly pressed 1,000 copies on his own Grey Wizard label, givng most away to family and friends, making for what's become a highly sought after (and priced) collectable. We'll refrain from pointing out the irony associated with the fact our copy of the LP has a large "25 cents" annotation on the cover ...
"The Grey Wizard Am I" track listing:
1.) The Grey Wizard Am I (Gandalf the Grey) -
2.) My Elven Home (Gandalf the Grey) -
3.) From the Grey Havens (Gandalf the Grey) -
4.) Here On Eighth Street (Gandalf the Grey) -
5.) Go and See (Gandalf the Grey) -
6.) The Christmas Song (Gandalf the Grey) -
7.) Old Town Church (Gandalf the Grey) -
8.) The Home Coming (The Sun Is Down) (Gandalf the Grey) -
9.) I Don't Know Why the People (Gandalf the Grey) -
10.) Mr. Joe's (Gandalf the Grey) -
11.) Sunshine Down the Line (Gandalf the Grey) -
The album's been booted a couple of times, including a 1986 issue by the small Heyoka Records (catalog number HEY-207). Wilson's also reissued the set on CD.
In case anyone cares, as alluded to, Wilson runs an odd website located at:
Last we saw, Wilson was living in Florida.
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