It’s hard to understand that why Andrew Gold doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. Whenever you say his name like Harry Nilsson, you might say “Who?” Well, who wrote the song that would later become the theme for the TV sitcom; The Golden Girls later sung by Cynthia Fee (‘Thank You For Being a Friend’) and then sang the song that Paul Reiser and Don Was wrote for Mad About You from Seasons 1 through 7 (‘Final Frontier’), followed by the 1976 hit single ‘Lonely Boy’ that would be later used in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 movie, Boogie Nights? It was Andrew himself.
While he’s no longer with us, he passed away from heart failure at the age of 59 on June 3, 2011. But his music and legacy lives on. This incredible 6-CD/1-DVD set by the good people from Cherry Red and Esoteric Recordings, covers Andrew’s time with the Asylum label by releasing four studio albums from 1975 to 1980 (Andrew Gold, What’s Wrong With This Picture?, All This and Heaven Too, and Whirlwind).
Born to a musical pedigree family on August 2, 1951 in Burbank, California, Andrew’s mother, Marni Nixon was a singer. She was the one that dubbed Natalie Wood’s voice in West Side Story, Deborah Kerr in The King and I, and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. His father, Ernest Gold, was an Austrian-born American composer. He did the score to the 1960 epic drama Exodus, directed by Otto Preminger and screenplay by Dalton Trumbo.
Ernest earned an academy award for best original score to the movie. Andrew started to write songs when he was 13 years old. During that time in the ‘60s, he lived in the U.K. at 16 by signing his first recording contract with the Polydor label by submitting demos. One of them was ‘Of All The Little Girls’ was released as Villers & Gold.
Villers was Charlie Villers, one of Andrew’s friend from Childhood. He then moved back to the states after extracting the deal in England. There in the city of angels, he met Linda Ronstadt who was with her band The Stone Poneys, and the rest is history. Alongside his collaboration with Linda, he worked with the Raspberries Eric Carmen, did second engineering on Joni Mitchell’s Blue, and toured with the Aslyum maestros, The Eagles and Jackson Browne.
Listening to his four studio albums that were originally released on David Geffen and Elliot Roberts’ label during that time period, it showed that there’s more than just the big names from Asylum Records. For Gold, he wasn’t just an incredible songwriter, but a true multi-instrumentalist that can bring a sense of the Pop genre done right during that time frame in the mid-70s.
Whether it’s the Eagles-tinged ‘Heartaches In Heartaches’, ‘That’s Why I Love You’, and ‘I’m A Gambler’, followed by the British Invasion nods to The Who with these Pete Townshend-sque structure on ‘A Note From You’. Gold knew his love of the country-rock styles and going from one genre to another. But he also had a musicality sing-song approach that can have a character go into this musical song in the middle of a scene.
Take for example ‘Must Be Crazy’. You just gotta love those string-section pieces, pounding beats, and high-rising vocal styles that Gold tackles to fall in love with a woman that will be with him, the rest of his life. And of course, the lullaby-clapping textures of ‘Never Let Her Slip Away’ which was about his girlfriend at the time, SNL’s Laraine Newman.
The keyboards have a romantic touch and a love letter approach that just tugs your heart before the sax sections bring a night-life in the evening. But he also had a heavier side to him which you could hear in the Whirlwind years. From the Hall & Oates approach of the title-track, to the Bad Company-sque rocker ‘Little Company’ that has a Paul Rodgers style as Andrew channels his lyrical structures to RAM-era from Paul McCartney.
Then he puts on his platform boots by taking this Glam-Rock stomping beat on ‘Brand New Face’, but adding a power-pop texture to the song by giving Carmen’s stamp of approval from his time with The Raspberries while digging out those raunchy-hard blues rocking sound detailing a woman who has been abused and tortured on ‘Leave Her Alone’.
Andrew just doesn’t play ballads, hard rock, pop, or go through different genres, he’s a one man artist who always take the next step after another. Speaking of ballads, his piano playing can make the rain stop and let the sun come out of the dark, grey clouds as he speaks to heavenly gods on ‘Oh Urania (Take Me Away)’, and the bossa-nova Brubeck jazzy textures from the Hal Leonard years in the Brazilian sun of meeting ‘Genevieve’.
The fifth and sixth disc which contains outtakes and live recordings he did at the Universal Amphitheatre on January 6th, 1977, and for the Old Grey Whistle Test at the New Victoria Theatre in London on November 23rd, 1976 (which is also on the DVD) and then broadcasted on March 15th, 1977.
This is where you get a sense of unearthed material on what could’ve been those four albums. One of which is a Post-Rock take of Dobie Gray’s ‘The In Crowd’, a roughed-up quality piano sing-along of the 12-bar blues on this ‘Broken Pinball Machine’, and going into a musical form once more with ‘Feel It’ that has a Billy Joel approach to it.
The DVD includes six promo videos he had done, and a special about him that “Whispering” Bob Harris who was a champion of Gold’s music. The feature was broadcasted originally on January 24th, 1978 where Bob went to Los Angeles and interviewed Andrew during the time he was promoting What’s Wrong With This Picture? He plays two tracks with the band; ‘Hope You Feel Good’ and ‘One of Them is Me’.
In the interview Bob asked him if it was natural for him to go into music. “I can never thought of it as a conscious decision.” Andrew replies. “I think what I wanted to be. What I wanted to be a musician? Either that, or be an actor.” Andrew made the right call to go into music. You can tell that he’s very relaxed with Bob Harris in the studio and talked about his career.
The 64-page booklet contains photos, album covers, lyrics, and liner notes about the history of Gold’s career and his time with Asylum Records by pianist Don Breithaupt. This here is a must-have if you want to get into Gold’s music and understand why he was ahead of his time and often under the radar. It is time to give Andrew, the proper recognition he deserves.