A stellar new box set dives deep into the career of unsung songwriting superhero Andrew Gold
If there is one thing I have learned in my near 35 years of record shopping, it is to know your sidemen.
The first time I discovered Leland Sklar was in the video for Phil Collins’ live version of Something Happened On The Way To Heaven, which gave me an appreciation for the Genesis drummer in a way that surpassed his constant presence on my radio dial and MTV in the 80s.
It was watching the wizard-like Sklar, perform at such a high level of skill that really prompts me to relearn everything I thought I knew about rock ‘n’ roll virtuosity at the time. If there isn’t any feel behind the dazzle, it ain’t worth shite. Discovering the trajectory of Sklar’s career helped introduce me to the wonderful world of following the sidemen. Especially the cats who comprised of The Immediate Family, which includes bassists Sklar and Kenny Edwards, guitarists Danny Kortchmar and Waddy Watchel and drummer Russ Kunkel. Even if you never heard of their names before, you most certainly heard their skills on any number of smash hits by such stars as Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, Jimmy Buffett, Neil Diamond, James Taylor, Stevie Nicks and a million other names.
But there’s one name among the multitude whose comeuppance has been long overdue, and that’s the vastly underrated catalog of Los Angeles singer-songwriter Andrew Gold, whose excellent output on Asylum Records has been given a long overdue box set treatment from the UK’s Cherry Red Recordings. Again, some of you folks might not know who Andrew Gold is, despite maybe hearing his name bandied about in the context of being pretty much omitted from the recent documentary on his longtime friend and collaborator Linda Ronstadt on some of her biggest hits. Yet any of you who ever sat through the opening of The Golden Girls have no doubt heard one of his most famous tunes in Thank You For Being A Friend. Meanwhile, his other signature tune Lonely Boy has been heard on everything from Boogie Nights to The Waterboy to This Is Us.
Yet as this seven-disc box set so dutifully declares, Gold had woven, well, pure AM gold throughout the majority of his time with Asylum Records, and we get the whole kit and caboodle on Lonely Boy: The Asylum Recordings Anthology. Included in the fray here are all four studio LPs—Andrew Gold, What’s Wrong With This Picture?, All This and Heaven Too and Whirlwind—along with a disc of studio outtakes, a collection of live recordings from Gold’s 1976 and 1977 tours and a DVD containing all of his promotional videos and his appearance on the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test.
If you are like me, at least in this one instance of life, and you are at the level in your record collecting where you are now following the album credits for sidemen like Russ Kunkel and Leland Sklar to decide upon your choice to buy that dollar vinyl or not, you should already have all of these Andrew Gold records on hand.
Just do yourself a favor and get your mind right with this late great of American Pop, and recognize just how essential his Asylum Years are to an educated album collection.