Andrew Gold – What’s Wrong With This Picture? (2015)

More Andrew Gold

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

The best copies of Gold’s sophomore release are incredibly rich, sweet and Tubey Magical. They also have tons of deep punchy bass and wonderfully breathy vocals.

If you own many Asylum records, you know this title is yet another example of classic Asylum Analog. Think of the sound of the Eagles first album and you won’t be far off.

AAndrew Gold is another talented popster who got little respect from the critics, or the public for that matter. His music has a lot of the same qualities as Buddy Holly’s: simple catchy tunes about love, with clever lyrics and tons of hooks. He covers one of Holly’s songs on this very album.

But the best song he ever did is right here on side two: One of Them Is Me. Everybody has been the guy telling this story at one time or another; it’s a heavy song if you make the effort to listen to the lyrics.

More importantly, from an audiophile recording point of view, the song builds and surges to a stirring, dynamically powerful climax, then drops down to the noise floor with just an electric piano playing softly. This is what being a studio wizard is all about, and Gold is definitely a wizard. Any Super Hot or better pressing will demonstrate to you that this is one helluva well recorded album.

Andrew Gold Is Fab

Gold’s best album is of course his first. It’s also a real Desert Island Disc for me. Unfortunately it is also one for which quiet, clean copies are very difficult to find.

I remember the title of the Rolling Stone review for this first album from practically 30 years ago: “Andrew Gold Is Fab.” If you like The Beatles, Badfinger, The Hollies and all the other melodic pop bands from the ’60s (and who doesn’t?), you have to like this guy.

For Heart Like a Wheel we noted: “Pay special attention to Andrew Gold’s Abbey Road-ish guitars heard throughout the album. The mans’ guitars and keyboards are all over this record. If anybody deserves credit besides Linda for the success of HLAW, it’s Andrew Gold.”

In 1975 Linda Ronstadt had her only US No 1 with a revival of “You’re No Good”, previously a hit for Betty Everett and the Swinging Blue Jeans. The record was produced by Peter Asher but it was a tour de force for Gold, who played electric piano and drums as well as the guitar solo.

Gold sang a duet with Ronstadt on a revival of the Everly Brothers’ “When Will I Be Loved”, while Ronstadt encouraged him to make solo records and sang backing vocals on his first hit, “Lonely Boy.” – Spencer Leigh

We are big fans of Heart Like a Wheel. If you like the album you should find much to like here.

Val Garay Is The Man

Kudos once again must go to Val Garay, the co-engineer here with Dave Hassinger (who owns The Sound Factory where the album was recorded). Garay is the man behind so many of our favorite recordings: James Taylor’s JT (a Top 100 title), Simple Dreams (also a Top 100 title)Andrew GoldPrisoner In Disguise, etc. They all share his trademark super-punchy, jump-out-the-speakers, rich and smooth ANALOG sound. With BIG drums — can’t forget those. (To be clear, only the best copies share it. Most copies only hint at it.)

I don’t think Mr Garay gets anything like his due with audiophiles and the reviewers who write for them. This is a shame; the guy makes Demo Disc Quality Pop Records about as good as those kinds of records can be made. If you have a Big System that really rocks you owe it to yourself to get to know his work. This is truly a KNOCKOUT disc if you have the equipment for it. We do, and it’s records like this that make the effort and expense of building a full-range dynamic system worthwhile.


Further Reading

Other recordings that we have found to be especially Tubey Magical can be found here.

Tranparency, the other side of the Tubey Magical coin, is also key to the better pressings of this album as well as many of our other favorite demo discs.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Hope You Feel Good 
Passing Thing 
Do Wah Diddy Diddy 
Learning the Game 
Angel Woman 
Must Be Crazy

Side Two

Lonely Boy
Firefly
Stay
Go Back Home Again
One of Them Is Me

AMG Review

What’s Wrong With This Picture? continued in the same vein as Andrew Gold’s first release, only this time the emphasis is on covers rather than original material. Herein lies his Top 40 hit “Lonely Boy,” as well as his precise rendition of Buddy Holly’s “Learning the Game.” Sophomore jinx aside, this is a very satisfying album.

Bio

Andrew Gold was part of the outstanding musical scene which developed in Los Angeles in the 1970s and included Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne. Gold, a multi-instrumentalist, played on numerous albums and also had his own hit singles with “Lonely Boy”, “Never Let Her Slip Away” and “Thank You For Being A Friend”. He could have had, and perhaps should have had, more solo success but his voice was probably not distinctive enough. “I know I can sing,” he told me in 2000, “but I also know that I’m not Lennon or Sinatra.”

Andrew Gold was born in Burbank in August 1951, the son of two highly musical parents. His father, Ernest, was a film composer who wrote the scores for On The Beach (1959) and Exodus (1960), and his mother, Marni Nixon, had a singing role in The Sound Of Music (1962) and was also Natalie Wood’s singing voice in West Side Story (1961) and Audrey Hepburn’s in My Fair Lady (1964).

For part of his adolescence, Gold was educated in the UK. His musical talent was soon appreciated and in the early 1970s he was playing in two Los Angeles bands, Bryndle and the Rangers, both with the guitarist Kenny Edwards. While at Oakwood School in Hollywood, he met Linda Ronstadt, then singing with the Stone Poneys.

Both Edwards and Gold were invited to join the Stone Poneys, and his burgeoning talent was soon recognised. Gold sang and played guitars and keyboards on her big-selling and highly acclaimed solo albums, Heart Like A Wheel (1974), Prisoner In Disguise (1975), Hasten Down The Wind (1976), Living In The USA (1978), Mad Love (1980) and Get Closer (1982).

In 1975 Linda Ronstadt had her only US No 1 with a revival of “You’re No Good”, previously a hit for Betty Everett and the Swinging Blue Jeans. The record was produced by Peter Asher but it was a tour de force for Gold, who played electric piano and drums as well as the guitar solo. Gold sang a duet with Ronstadt on a revival of the Everly Brothers’ “When Will I Be Loved”, while Ronstadt encouraged him to make solo records and sang backing vocals on his first hit, “Lonely Boy”.

Although Gold put personal references in “Lonely Boy” (1975) including his year of birth, he told me that it was not autobiographical: “Maybe it was a mistake to do that but I simply put in those details because it was convenient. I hadn’t been a lonely boy at all – I’d had a very happy childhood.”

In1978, Gold had a UK Top 10 single with the ultra-catchy “Never LetHer Slip Away”. “It’s like McCartney meets Brian Wilson,” he explained, “I can always tell when I am going into that mode. There’s a very cheap synthesiser on that record, but it was right for the song.” Gold promoted the single in the UK, admittedly spending much of his earnings in the gambling club, Crockfords. This led to his album track, “I’m A Gambler”. He followed up with another Top 20 single, “How Can This Be Love”.

Gold had a third hit in 1978 with “Thank You For Being A Friend”, which had a new lease of life when it was sung by Cindy Fee as the theme for TheGolden Girls (1985-92). Gold released the albums, Andrew Gold (1975), What’s Wrong With This Picture (1976), AllThis And Heaven Too (1978) and Whirlwind (1980). He did, however, refuseto sign contracts with music publishing companies, calling them “banks with real bad interest rates posing as song pluggers.”

There is no doubt that Gold was regarded as a very safe pair of hands and he was invited to play on scores of albums. They included Maria Muldaur (1974), Kate And Anna McGarrigle (1975), Jennifer Warnes’ Shot Through The Heart (1979) and Stephen Bishop’s Careless (1976). He was strongly featured on Art Garfunkel’s album, Breakaway (1975) and provided most of the accompaniment on the stunning No 1 single, “I Only Have Eyes For You”. Less successful was his support for a Playboy model, Barbi Benton, who was determined to be a pop and country singer.

Among the albums he produced were Rita Coolidge’s Heartbreak Radio (1981) and Nicolette Larson’s All Dressed Up And No Place To Go (1982).

After Gold had done some session work for the UK group, 10cc, he was offered a place in the group, which at the time wasn’t convenient. After 10cc had broken up, he formed the band Wax, with Graham Gouldman. Their most successful album was American English (1987) and they had hit singles with “Right Between Your Eyes” and “Bridge To Your Heart”. The duo worked on different projects right up to Gold’s death.

There was less session work in the late ’80s, but Gold was on Cher’s multi-million selling Heart Of Stone (1989).In 1992, the UK band, Undercover, had a Top 10 with a revival of “Never Let Her Slip Away”, and he wrote a US country hit for Wynonna Judd, “I Saw The Light”. A torch song, “Try Me Again”, that he and Ronstadt had written for Hasten Down The Wind, was revived by Trisha Yearwood and was also a country success.

In 1995, Gold, Edwards, Wendy Waldman and Karla Bonoff reformed Bryndle for an album. Gold also made an album, Greetings From Planet Love, as the Fraternal Order of the All which was a tribute by way of original songs to his favourite 60s bands. He moved to Nashville for The Spence Manor Suite (2000) and his co-writers included Raul Malo of the Mavericks. There were some desultory performances though, notably playing Alvin of the Chipmunks on their version of Garth Brooks’ “Friends In Low Places”. His last solo album was Copy Cat (2008).

Possibly the strangest testimony to his success came in 1996 when his theme song for the TV series Mad About You (1992-99) was used to start Rover, a remote-controlled robot on the Mars Pathfinder space probe.

Andrew Gold, musician and songwriter: born Burbank, California 2 August 1951: married twice (three daughters); died 3 June 2011.

By Spencer Leigh