In 1964 the Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart, unable to adequately define pornography, simply noted, “I know it when I see it.”
I was reminded of that remark when I recently listened to the psychedelic strains of The Fraternal Order of The All. Obscure? You bet!
In 1998, when my heavy metal band Third Stone Invasion signed with J-Bird Records, we joined a small roster of talent that included Billy Squier, The Who’s John Entwistle, and singer-songwriter Andrew Gold, who passed away in 2011. We were likely all drawn to J-Bird due to the label’s cutting-edge plans to use the Internet to market its music. Unfortunately, the label was a little too cutting edge. Though many of the approaches they implemented have come to be common in the current music world, it was a case of “too soon” in the late 1990s. J-Bird eventually shut down, and all of our releases were delegated to the status of obscurities. Or, as I prefer to think, collector’s items...
|Andrew Gold later in life and his deep-psychedelic release from J-Bird Records.|
When I travelled to J-Bird’s headquarters to sign our contract, I was given a few of the label’s releases, including one by The Fraternal Order of The All called Greetings from Planet Love. I soon discovered that this “band” was in fact Andrew Gold, releasing an album recorded all by himself with the exception of an assist or two from his pal Graham Gouldman of the band 10cc.
Greetings from Planet Love can perhaps best be described as a homage to the music of the late 1960s, with spot-on evocations of the Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Doors, The Byrds, and more. What’s shared is that all of the songs on this album immediately infuse the aural air with the unmistakable scent of psychedelia. It’s a musical genre that is instantly recognizable, perhaps more so than any other. But much like Tears for Fears’ equally trippy “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” it’s hard to put your finger on exactly what makes this stuff sound so psychedelic. It just does.
In other words: what is psychedelic music? Well, I know it when I hear it. Thanks, Justice Stewart.
Follow this link for a heady taste of this fun, obscure release by the late Andrew Gold: