Greetings from Planet Love! So was titled the one and only album from The Fraternal Order of "The All." Who was The All? It turns out The All was rock-and-roll's favorite one-man band, the late Andrew Gold (1951-2011). In 1997, the singer-songwriter behind "Lonely Boy" and "Thank You for Being a Friend" - also a multi-instrumentalist, producer, and arranger who supported such friends as Linda Ronstadt and Art Garfunkel over the years - released this pseudonymous celebration of the psychedelic side of the 1960s. Gold, who could indeed do it "All," tipped his hat to The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Doors, The Byrds, and their musical brethren on a salute which managed to be both tongue-in-cheek and musically rich. Gold wrote, sang, and played almost every track on the album himself, just bringing in a handful of friends including genuine sixties hitmaker and 10cc mainstay Graham Gouldman ("Bus Stop," "For Your Love"), bassist-singer Jimmy Caprio, and keyboardist Jimmy Herter. Now, this lost gem has returned in new CD and LP editions from Cherry Red's Esoteric Recordings imprint.
"See all the rainbow people/They're here to love you and to freak you out," Gold sings on the opening "Rainbow People," a fab pastiche that simultaneously embraces the flower-power crowd while musically hinting at the darker side of the era. Beauty is first and foremost on display, though, especially when the singer-songwriter channels his inner Brian Wilson on the delicate, haunting "Love Tonight" (co-written with Gouldman and Mike Botts of Bread) or "Wink of the Third Eye," inspired by the arrangement and feel of "Caroline, No." Guests Jimmy Herter and Jimmy Caprio penned "Time Is Standing Still" which echoes not only The Beach Boys but the sunshine sounds of The Association and the groups' SoCal brethren. (Herter also provides vocals and keyboard.) It's hard not to think of Brother Brian, too, when considering the dreamy wordless harmonies of "Swirl" or the lyrics to "Chasing My Tail" when Gold sings, "I wanna live in a perfect universe full of harmony/A shining diamond astral world/So full of love/And then I'd understand..."
The jangly "Space and Time" is a spot-on Byrds pastiche that would have fit snugly on Eight Miles High, from vocals to melody and arrangement. Dig the Doors-esque organ on "Whirl" and (even more explicitly) "Ride the Snake," the "Eleanor Rigby"-inspired synth strings on "Twirl," or the catchy ode to a "Freelove Baby" with chiming guitar, bleating brass, and groovy sitar. (Jimmy Caprio contributes vocals to the latter.) Gold's turn doing a Bob Dylan drawl on "Mr. Plastic Business Man" is expectedly amusing, but the sophisticated songwriter doesn't even try to emulate the folk-rock style of Dylan's compositions of the period. With its instrumental snippets, vocal fragments, spoken-word segments, and trippy effects, the experience of Planet Love is akin to gleefully channel-surfing on a hallucinogenic radio.
Planet Love takes a stylistic detour with one of its strongest tracks. The sweetly romantic "King of Showbiz," another Gouldman co-write, is straight-ahead pop in the vein of Gold's '70s best ("I don't have to be the King of Showbiz/That's not my idea of what success is/All I need's a leading lady to get me through the day"). Perhaps the track was from The Fraternal Order of The All's reunion album a decade or so after they disbanded? When a song is this strong, though, it hardly matters that it's an outlier among the psychedelia.
The one and only album from The Fraternal Order of the All might have been a lark for Andrew Gold, but what an enjoyable lark it is! Esoteric's CD reissue contains a 20-page booklet with lyrics to each song and the official "biography" of the band. This cosmically kooky journey is available now on both CD and double 10-inch vinyl. Fans of ELO, Klaatu, Wondermints, The Dukes of Stratosphear, and The Rutles, among others: this one's for you!
The Fraternal Order of the All, Greetings from Planet Love (Dome DOME CD 14, 1997 - reissued Cherry Red/Esoteric ECLEC 2758, 2023)
- Greetings from Planet Love
- Rainbow People
- Love Tonight
- Chasing My Tail
- Tuba Rye and Will's Son/Balloon in the Sky
- King of Showbiz
- Freelove Baby
- Groovy Party at Jimmy's Magic Pad
- It's Beautiful
- Wink at the Third Eye
- It Has No Eyes But Sight
- Space and Time
- Time Is Standing Still
- Ride the Snake
- Plastic Business Man
- Cosmic Ccarnivall
- Tomorrow Drop Dead