Sunday, 12 June 2011
The Fraternal Order of the All - Greetings From Planet Love
As a piss-take, this is exquisite. More politely cited as 'pastiche', there is a strong element of satire but also homage in this recreation of a late 60s psychepop concept album. The Fraternal Order of the All, aka Andrew Gold, delivers a majestic mirror of what The Beatles, Beach Boys and others of that time harmonised in their commercially cosmic searches for musical nirvana.
Andrew Gold sadly died on June 3rd, 2011, aged 59. I have always been a fan of his personal harmony pop, especially hits like How Can This Be Love, Lonely Boy, Thank You For Being a Friend, and Never Let Her Slip Away, and I was only recently listening to a greatest hits compilation of these and other wonderful songs. As homage to Gold's own music I am writing about his album Greetings From Planet Love, released in 1998 under the guise of having been recorded 'between August 2 1967 and August 2 1968'. One year in the life of a blissful fabrication, and in the real world a tribute to Gold's invention and musical expertise.
The music on this album isn't fake and Andrew Gold has turned playful pastiche into a tour de force of superbly nostalgic substance. The album begins with the title track and immediately in Beatles mode. This is then followed by the two tracks Rainbow People and Love Tonight shifting to a perfect emulation of the Beach Boys before returning as The Beatles for 4th track Chasing My Tail. Indeed, this chasing of influences, though only these two at this point, might seem awkward, but the perfection and therefore beauty of the echoing is what you aurally absorb so completely.
5th track Swirl merges Beach Boys with The Moody Blues, and by 7th track King of Showbiz, it is 10cc being aped to a tee, no doubt underpinned by Graham Gouldman's actual involvement. 9th track Freelove Baby - where the title takes its more explicit tilt at the windmills - merges early Beatles with The Hollies and The Monkees and a smattering of lyrically naff psychedelia.
Track 11 It's Beautiful flirts with Simon and Garfunkel, and number 14 Twirl spins some beautiful Eleanor Rigby replica strings. Gold isn't content to keep his influences too constrained and so track 15 Space and Time introduces a sublime Byrds impression, and track 17 Ride the Snake - and you should guess the influence from that suggestive title - presents Ray Manzarek keyboards and the bombastic vocals of Jim Morrison as The Doors slither into the mocking but magical mix.
The album's final three tracks return to its Beatles and Beach Boys core replication. Punctuated within the 20 tracks are snippets of recorded voices, again a la Beatles albums, but also The Who and Small Faces and other groups' concept albums of the day, and as a whole it is a delightful return to a time when such techniques were new and exciting. It is also a delightful tribute to Andrew Gold's innovative spirit as well as huge skill as instrumentalist, singer and songwriter.