Rhino Hi-Five: Andrew Gold (EP), by Andrew Gold
This song is part of a series of five-song EPs released by Rhino Records that seek to introduce listeners (or re-introduce them) to artists that are somewhat obscure by providing a short best-of collection of five songs. Andrew Gold seems like a good artist for this particular sort of project, because he didn’t have that many hits as an artist–only two or three songs of his have been remembered relatively well–and because listening to these five songs will give the listener a fair chance to ponder whether or not they want to listen to a longer album of his given the general obscurity of his work. I became familiar with the artist’s work when I was young (my mother had a rather savage review of his two most familiar songs, both of them in this collection) and one of his songs was the theme song to Golden Girls.
This particular collection is made up of three songs that were at least moderate hits and two more obscure songs that provide some deeper cuts that reflect his general quality of work. After listening to this EP, the listener will have a decent idea of whether or not they like Andrew Gold’s best material and whether the two deep cuts are appealing, thus making it worthwhile to check out his full-length albums. The first song, “Thank You For Being A Friend,” is the most enduring song of the artist, and the aforementioned theme to Golden Girls, a materialistic ode to friendship. After that comes “Lonely Boy,” a moody track about an idiotic boy who thought that being the only son meant that he was his parents’ only child, feeling a bit resentful about having to cater to a favored younger sister who ends up having a son just like him to punish her, I suppose. “Never Let Her Slip Away” is a song about the narrator’s love for a recent relationship he started just before going on tour that he hopes will last forever. “That’s Why I Love You” is a basic song that shows the narrator explaining why he loves his partner in the most trite and cliched of ways. Finally, “Hang My Picture Straight” shows the narrator being strangely petulant and angry towards someone he views as a future ex-lover who he wants to pine after him by being reminded of him by his picture after he is gone.
This is not exactly a bad collection of songs, but it is hard not to damn the artist and his music with faint praise. All of these songs are well-produced and have beautiful piano and other instrumental parts. These are songs that sound good if you don’t think too much about them. But if you do pay attention to the lyrics, these songs are pretty meat-headed at best. If Andrew Gold was a decent writer and performer of music, he was not a particularly skilled lyricist and these songs are testament to the fact that he was not nearly as gifted as many of his peers among the singer-songwriters of the 70’s. Listening to this artist, especially for the vibe, is by no means a waste of time, but if you are actively looking for good music, it seems hard to justify listening to this EP or much of any other music by the artist when there are so many other much better artists in this lane like Dan Fogelberg or Cat Stevens or Elton John or Billy Joel, to name a few artists in the same general line of talented piano men who combined musical chops with far better and far more insightful and thoughtful lyrics.