Isn’t it about time for an Andrew Gold renaissance? Then again, the late artist’s music is still very much a part of today. Just tune in to TV Land, Hallmark, or Logo TV and you’ll hear Cynthia Fee’s rendition of Gold’s “Thank You for Being a Friend” introducing the exploits of Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia on every episode of The Golden Girls. And when “yacht rock” playlists started popping up, reviving breezy, laid-back 1970s soft rock sounds (many of which emanated out of California), Gold’s bright, crisp, pure-pop tunes were rarely far away. Though the man himself died in 2011 at the all-too-young age of 59, his music has endured. Now, Omnivore Recordings has gifted his fans with his first-ever full-length live LP, The Late Show – Live 1978 (OVCD-128).
The Late Show captures the singer, songwriter and in-demand multi-instrumentalist’s second set at West Hollywood’s famous Roxy Theatre on April 22, 1978. The concert came just one week after the release of All This and Heaven Too, his third solo LP on Asylum Records. Gold, born to composer Ernest Gold (Exodus, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World) and actress-singer Marni Nixon (onscreen as Sister Sophia in The Sound of Music, the singing voice of Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, Natalie Wood in West Side Story, Deborah Kerr in The King and I) was clearly on his home turf at the Roxy, playing with vivacity for this 14-song set in front of a hometown crowd. He was backed for the show by his crack band consisting of George Marinelli on guitar and vocals, Brock Walsh on keyboards, guitar and vocals, Bryan Garofalo on bass and vocals, and Stan Kipper on drums and vocals. The band was able to bring to life Gold’s signature blend informed by British pop, American country, folk, and rock and roll.
While the U.K. No. 5/U.S. No 67 hit “Never Let Her Slip Away” from All This and Heaven Too doesn’t appear on The Late Show, three of the album’s tracks do. Though it was hardly the familiar, even ubiquitous song it is today, the unabashedly heartfelt and warmly sentimental “Thank You for Being a Friend” is greeted here with audience screams. “Oh Urania (Take Me Away)” is an attractive ballad with a rich vocal arrangement inspired by Gold’s fascination with what might be up there in space; like “Thank You,” it’s utterly sincere and all the more moving for it. And Gold brought his interpretive talents to Mark Goldenberg and Mark Safan’s bittersweet but catchy rocker “How Can This Be Love” (“if it makes us cry?”).
The artist reached back to his 1975 self-titled debut for “Endless Flight,” which later appeared on Leo Sayer’s hit 1976 album of the same name, “That’s Why I Love You,” the uptempo “A Note from You,” and the opening track here, “I’m a Gambler.” In his excellent, candid liner note reflections, Brock Walsh confirms that the latter title was true of Gold. “Gambler” is the name of another track here, written by Kenny Edwards of The Stone Poneys and also recorded by Gold in a couple of studio versions..
A trio of songs came from 1976’s Peter Asher-helmed What’s Wrong with This Picture. “One of Them is Me” epitomizes Gold’s light-and-heavy pop-rock style, and “Go Back Home Again” is a tight, taut rocker. “Lonely Boy,” like “Thank You for Being a Friend,” showcases Gold’s ability to communicate directly with his audience. The Top 10 hit drew on just enough autobiographical details, marrying the heart-on-its-sleeve and seemingly personal lyric to an infectious pop melody and sparkling arrangement. (Gold admitted to drawing on his own life but commented that he wasn’t, in fact, a lonely boy.) Despite Walsh’s self-deprecating comment in the notes that “my part on the ARP at the end of the bridge is so lame,” the band delivers a crackling performance of the pop-rock classic that’s a little less slick than the smooth studio version.
Listening to Gold’s impeccably crafted studio pop creations, it could be no surprise that the singer-songwriter was a Beatles fan. He pays tribute to John, Paul, George and Ringo with a romp through “Doctor Robert” and goes back even further in Beatle lore to pay homage to the Fab Four’s cover of Chuck Berry’s indelible “Roll Over, Beethoven” in raucous, rocking-and-rolling style.
The Late Show has been wonderfully mastered by Michael Graves and sounds terrific despite the disclaimer that audio anomalies do exist on this live recording. Greg Allen has designed the attractive eight-page booklet which features Brock Walsh’s essay and track-by-track notes. Whether you call it Laurel Canyon/SoCal pop, soft rock, yacht rock or something in between, Andrew Gold’s body of work brims with melody, accessibility, craft and musicianship – attributes in any era or any genre. The Late Show celebrates the late artist’s spirit and heart in high style.