‘Planet Love’ and the World of Andrew Gold (Part 2 of 3)

Continued from Part One

In 1970, Gold hooked up with fellow singer-songwriters to form Bryndle. The group also included Karla Bonoff, Wendy Waldman and former Stone Poneys multi-instrumentalist Kenny Edwards. The songwriters’ collective recorded an album for Herb Alpert’s A&M Records, but it went unreleased. The group split after a lone single failed to gain traction on radio. Gold immersed himself in studio work, much of it for Linda Ronstadt.

Gold’s work as a versatile studio hand would consume much of his time, but he began a concurrent solo career in 1975 with a self-titled album. In the space of less than two years, he scored hit singles with “Lonely Boy” (#7 U.S., #11 UK), “Thank You for Being a Friend” (#25 U.S., #42 UK) and “Never Let Her Slip Away (#15 U.S. adult contemporary, #5 UK). By the end of the decade, Gold had landed songs in the charts in Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand as well. But as quickly as his solo star had risen, he seemed to disappear from the music marketplace: 1978’s All This and Heaven Too would be his last album to appear on the charts.

Returning to England, in 1981 Gold started working with 10cc. That group had found success as a foursome with Kevin Godley, Lol Creme, Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman, but by late 1976 the group was down to a duo of Stewart and Gouldman. “We had a certain amount of success as the two of us,” Gouldman says. “But our American record company wanted us to work with an American writer/producer.” The Warner Brothers executives believed doing so might increase the band’s chances of Stateside success.

“They suggested Andrew, and I absolutely jumped to it,” Gouldman says, “because I was a massive fan of Andrew.” Gold produced, played, sang and wrote several songs that appeared on the U.S. release of 10cc’s well-regarded Ten Out of 10 album. He was invited to join the band as a full member, but demurred because of other commitments.

“It was great fun working with Andrew,” says Gouldman. “We had very good chemistry right away.” Gouldman’s working relationship with Stewart, however, was becoming strained. “We both decided to kind of call it a day, and I asked Andrew to work with me,” Gouldman recalls. “I had a little studio in my house. Initially he was going to come over for two weeks.”

Gold ended up staying on for six months. “He pretty much played every instrument,” Gouldman says. “He was a master of all trades: fantastic guitarist, great drummer, keyboard player, singer and producer. He had great instinct; he had it all.” An entire album was recorded, but – like the Bryndle record more than a decade before – it wouldn’t be released.

The two developed a solid working relationship and a deep friendship. “Andrew was hilarious and very creative,” Gouldman says. “Though he was a bit obsessive as well.” Gouldman recalls that Gold fussed for hours creating intricate phone answering machine messages. “Mere mortals might just [record a recitation of] ‘I can’t take your call right now,’” he says with a laugh. “But Andrew would do these full-on calypso arrangements with steel drums and the right sort of guitars. He loved doing that.”

Gouldman says that even though Andrew Gold had the skills and ability to work completely on his own, he was a superb collaborator. The two formed a duo, Wax, and began work on their debut, Magnetic Heaven in 1985. “The only time Andrew would show a bit of control freakery was in the studio,” Gouldman recalls. Phil Thornalley was the nominal producer of the sessions, but that didn’t stop Gold from getting his hands on the console. “Andrew would go over to the compressors and stuff, tweaking them,” Gouldman says. “This eventually pissed Phil off a little bit. Andrew would get told off, and he would listen. But he had that in him. His motives were good, but the way he went about it could’ve been a bit more discreet.”

Wax was primarily a studio project, but Gouldman and Gold did assemble a touring band, featuring former 10cc guitarist Rick Fenn, Roger Jackson on keyboards and drummer Mike Richardson. “The actual playing was brilliant,” Gouldman emphasizes, “but the tour was disastrous; we had a crap promoter.”

For his part, Gold loved being onstage, but there was one major part of touring that he did not enjoy. “The only bad thing in the whole of it for Andrew was flying,” Gouldman says. “That was really what brought things to a halt.” He recalls being on board a flight from London to some destination in Europe. “Andrew was actually holding onto the seat in front and shaking,” Gouldman recalls. “Eventually, he couldn’t do it anymore.”

Gouldman notes that Andrew Gold’s versatility as a writer, in the studio and onstage made him a kind of musical chameleon. He could create music in whatever style and character called for by the circumstances. Like Gouldman – who had already written many hits for artists as varied as The Yardbirds, the Hollies, Herman’s Hermits, Jeff Beck, the Ohio Express and many others – Gold could slip into whatever musical persona he chose, and then move onto another with ease.

“He could apply himself to anything,” Gouldman says. And a hallmark of Gold’s work was its inner complexity, manifesting in a seemingly simple, accessible way. “He liked unusual chord changes, but the thing with him was the melody. He had that gift: it’s something that you can’t learn, you can’t teach it. It’s just inherent.”

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