In 1997 Andrew Gold did something that was quite intriguing, and very interesting. He wanted to make an album that was based on the psychedelic scene in the late 60s by paying tribute to bands such as; The Beach Boys, The Doors, The Beatles during their Sgt. Pepper heyday, and The Byrds. It seemed like an odd idea, but for Gold, he took a chance on it. It was called Greetings from Planet Love.
It gave Gold a chance to create a fictious band called The Fraternal Order of the All. Similar to XTC’s The Dukes of Stratosphear, Ming Tea, Chris Gaines (Garth Brooks’ alias), Spinal Tap, The Rutles, and Lenny and the Squigtones, The Fraternal Order of the All was actually Gold playing most of the instruments, singing the compositions, and having guest musicians such as; keyboardist Jimmy Herter, bassist and background vocalist Jimmy Caprio, and 10cc/WAX alumni Graham Gouldman.
Originally released 26 years ago on the J-Bird label in the States, and on the Dome label in the U.K., the album was a treasure trove. Hard to find and out of print, I can imagine it was a collector’s item among Gold fans to prove that he was so far ahead of his time.
But it also proved that he was more than just a singer-songwriter during his time with Asylum Records, collaborating with Linda Ronstadt, and his well-known songs; ‘Lonely Boy’, ‘Thank You For Being a Friend’, and ‘Never Let Her Slip Away’.
Reissued by the good folks from Esoteric Recordings who had done the Lonely Boy box set three years ago, Greetings from Planet Love is finally getting the recognition it deserves. And what an amazing reissue it is. It’ll make you want to dig out your old records that have been covered in dust, cleaned up, and reflect those amazing memories of the late ‘60s that you remember many, many years ago.
You have the organ-carousel turned floating wonders of ‘Tuba Raye & Will’s Son / Balloon in the Sky’ with its Brian Wilson-sque lyrical structure and Lynne-like vocal styles that Gold channels the Electric Light Orchestra’s golden years and Klaatu’s Hope-era while the ‘Rainbow People’ details the greetings and welcome you’re about to receive from the flower generation, but adding that darker side the hippie movement doesn’t want you to know about.
The effects that are used in ‘Love Tonight’ sees Gold bringing in his combination between Joe Meek and Pierre Henry’s atmosphere for the first two minutes before entering this Carousel-like waltz with a structured dystopian beauty, followed by some pre-BigElf arrangements that speaks ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ from their Cheat the Gallows period.
However, ‘King of Showbiz’ sees Andrew returning to his Asylum years. You can just vision him, going back in time to the mid-70s, reflecting those great memories he had from 1975 to 1980. It’s not just Linda, but Carole King and Laura Nyro having Gold’s back, and tipping his hat to those two artists who had an impact on his music.
‘Freelove Baby’ takes listeners to the freak-out parties with sitars, fanfare twists, and striking a similarity to the Wondermints theme of ‘Austin Powers’. But it’s not over yet. The trippy effects come kicking in for a ‘Groovy Party at Jimmy’s Pad’ featuring sound effects of crickets chirping, organs on a loop, erotic vibrations with a French woman (don’t even ask!), and dare I say, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls that comes to mind?
Meanwhile ‘Twirl’ brings out the keyboard string sections, returning to The Beatles Revolver sessions, adding a bit of this extension for the finale of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ as Gold returns to the Byrds universe, singing in the styles of Roger McGuinn and David Crosby from their Eight Miles High-era on ‘Space and Time’ whilst imitating Dylan’s vocal range from his Electric years on ‘Mr. Plastic Business Man’.
Throughout the passages of time, Andrew Gold’s fraternity is worth exploring. He can move forward into various musical structures, and bringing out, not only a psychedelic pastiche, but a satisfying wonder that’s worth exploring. And as John Lennon would sing in the ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!’, “A splendid time is guaranteed for all!”