Bo Hansson – Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings (1970)

Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings‘ is a great 1970 progressive rock, space rock, and psychedelic rock studio album composed and released by Swedish progressive rock artist Bo Hansson through Silence Records (Silence Records AB). The album was released in December 1970 and was recorded between late 1969 and early 1970 at a summer house on the Älgö peninsula (which was converted into a small recording studio), pertaining to the inner archipelago of Stockholm and at Studio Decibel in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden.

Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings‘ by Bo Hansson (1970). Image source:

As the title of the album clearly states, its music was inspired by the high-fantasy literary trilogy ‘The Lord of the Rings’ written by English author, professor, and philologist J.R.R. Tolkien (a prominent member of The Inklings literary group from Oxford University), originally published between 1954 and 1955. In addition to the literary influence stemming from Tolkien, the music of the album was also inspired by the Norse mythology. The original Swedish title is ‘Saga om ringen‘, under which the LP got initially released during late 1970 in Sweden. It was only two years later, in 1972, that the album was released in the United Kingdom under the English title ‘Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings‘, thanks to growing popularity from Hansson’s native Sweden which travelled across the North Sea to England.

The album received both commercial and critical acclaim, having entered the charts of the United Kingdom and Australia at high positions (peaking at number 34 and 31 respectively) between 1972 and 1973 and being also successful to a mild extent in the United States of America (eventually peaking at number 154 on the US Billboard Top LPs & Tapes chart there).

In terms of critical reception, Allmusic gave the record 4.5 out of 5 stars while Q magazine only gave it 3 out of 5 stars. It is equally important to mention that the album was re-issued multiple times between the early 1970s and early 2000s as follows: the first time in Sweden as ‘Saga om ringen’ in December 1970 through Silence Records, the second time through Charisma Records in the United Kingdom in September 1972, the third time through Charisma and Buddah Records in the United States one month later in October 1972, the fourth time once again through Charisma Records in the United Kingdom as a re-issue with a brand new cover artwork by Rodney Matthews in 1977, the fifth time through PVC Records in the United States two years later in 1979, the sixth time through Silence Records in Sweden in CD format as an extended remixed version with 11 bonus tracks (from two other studio albums by Hansson) in 1988, the seventh time once again by Silence Records in Sweden during the same year, the eighth time through Silent/Resource Records in Sweden in 1993, the ninth time through Edsel Records in CD format in the United Kingdom in 1996, the tenth time through One Way Records in CD format in the United States, the eleventh time through Silence Records in Sweden in 2000 as bilingual ‘The Lord of the Rings/Sagan om ringen‘ re-issue in CD format, the twelfth time through Silence Records in 2002 in Sweden in CD format with one bonus track, and, finally, the thirteenth time through Virgin Records in the United States in 2002 also in CD format with one bonus track.

Given the album’s notoriety in both native Sweden and abroad, it remains the most well known discographical material released by Bo Hansson to date. It has a total length of 38 minutes and 13 seconds and was produced by Anders Lind (Silence Records) and Bo Hansson himself. The album consists of two sides, the first one with 5 tracks and the second with 7, totalling, as such, 12 on the original release.

The tracklist of the album is the following one (both in English and Swedish):

  1. Leaving Shire/Första vandringen;
  2. The Old Forest & Tom Bombadil/Den gamla skogen och Tom Bombadil;
  3. Fog on the Barrow-Downs/I Skuggornas rike;
  4. The Black Riders & Flight to the Ford/De svarta ryttarna och Flykten till vadstället;
  5. At the House of Elrond & The Ring Goes South/I Elronds hus och Ringen vandrar söderut;
  6. A Journey in the Dark/En vandring i mörker;
  7. Lothlórien;
  8. Shadowfax/Skuggfaxe;
  9. The Horns of Rohan & The Battle of the Pelennor Fields/Rohans horn och Slaget på Pelennors slätter;
  10. Dreams in the House of Healing/Drömmar i Läkandets hus;
  11. Homeward Bound & The Scouring of the Shire/Hemfärden och Fylke rensas;
  12. The Grey Havens/De grå hamnarna;
  13. Early Sketches from Middle Earth (also titled: Early Scethces from Midgård)/Tidiga skisser från Midgård (2002 CD re-issue bonus track).

The recording personnel was as follows:

  • Bo Hansson – organ, guitar, Moog synthesizer, bass guitar;
  • Rune Carlsson – drums and congas (percussion);
  • Runnar Bergsten – saxophone;
  • Sten Bergman – flute;

Additional personnel include:

  • Peter Lindholm – cover artwork (original 1970 issue);
  • Jane Furst – cover artwork (1972 issue);
  • Rodney Matthews – cover artwork (1977 issue).

Therefore, that being said and without any further needless ado or unwanted spoilers on my behalf, I wholeheartedly recommend integrally listening to the this wonderful album by Bo Hansson, track by track, as embedded below via Youtube. Enjoy and all the best!

Documentation sources and external links:

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