GANDALF: “S/T” (Capitol – ST-121) (Record: Excellent / Jacket: Near Mint). Original US 1st pressing. Probably one of the greatest mind bending bewitching psychedelic slides ever recorded. “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 and Don Rubin and conjured their sole, self-titled album for Capitol in late 1967. One of the rarest major label psychedelic releases, Gandalf features swirls of Hammond B3 organ, caressing vibraphone runs and electric sitar on Sando’s originals as well as imaginative recastings of songs by Tim Hardin, Gary Bonner/Alan Gordon, and Eden Ahbez.” (Sundazed review) and “Bands that focus on cover versions often lack identity, but that is emphatically not the case here. Though only two of the ten songs are originals, Gandalf have a strong sound, mixing Peter Sando’s ghostly vocals with intricate, keyboard-heavy arrangements and an echoing, spacey production to present a haunting, compelling experience. The material they tackle varies from old standards (‘Golden Earrings’, ‘Scarlet Ribbons’) to three exquisitely handled Tim Hardin numbers, while their densely psychedelic take on ‘Nature Boy’ is a revelation, complete with a ripping fuzz solo to rival anything from the era. Sando’s two originals, the spooky ‘Could You Travel In The Dark Alone?’ and thunderous ‘I Watch The Moon’, are pretty great too.
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