Andrew Gold’s Halloween Howls: Fun And Scary Music! – Music For Little People (1996)/ Craft Recording CR00431 (2021) stereo vinyl, 43:23 ****1/2:
Craft Recordings releases a re-mastered vinyl of Andrew Gold’s Halloween album.
(Andrew Gold – guitars, keyboards, drums, vocals; with special guest appearances by Linda Ronstadt; Stephen Bishop; Greg Prestopino; Karla Bonoff; David Cassidy and Nicolette Larson)
Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and performer Andrew Gold played a significant role in the development of the Southern California pop/rock scene. A heavily in demand session player, Gold worked and toured with Linda Ronstadt, and contributed significantly to the best-selling album, Heart Like A Wheel. He was a member of the folk-rock band Bryndle (with Karla Bonoff, Wendy Waldman and Kenny Edwards). As a solo artist, he enjoyed success on the charts with the 1976 single, “Lonely Boy”. But it was a song from his third studio album, “Thank You For Being a Friend” that became the theme for the television show The Golden Girls that is most frequently associated with Gold. Additionally, he wrote the theme for the sitcom, Mad About You. He would continue to produce solo material and work with a variety of artists, including Eric Carmen, 10 C.C., Jackson Browne, Stephen Bishop and James Taylor.
Craft Recordings has released a vinyl of Andrew Gold’s Halloween Howls: Fun And Scary Music!. Gold was a huge fan of Halloween and decided that there wasn’t enough music for this occasion. Twenty-five years after its initial release, this remains a quirky celebration of a favorite holiday, featuring original compositions and covers. Joining Gold (who plays nearly all of the instruments and sings) are several prominent recording stars. Side One opens with a finely crafted pop song, “It Must Be Halloween”. Following the indelible organ intro to “Toccata And Fugue In D Minor”, a Vincent Price-like deep voice offers trick or treat encouragement. Jaunty piano, wolf howls and a music hall vibe all coalesce to bring this ditty to life. Gold breaks out the big hitters on the rock and roll Halloween anthem, “Monster Mash”. Another humorous spoken opening is followed by Stephen Bishop’s faux-British lead vocals with Linda Ronstadt and Karla Bonoff contributing silky doo-wop backup singing. The tune works as intended, dance party silly and catchy grooves. “Spooky, Scary Skeletons” has become the breakout legacy of this album. It has a percussive arrangement and goofy vocals that make it an endearing novelty record. The song was uploaded to Youtube by Three Ply Chord and there is also a dance remix. Both of these have seen nearly 30 million views each. Gold’s formula is simple and effective, accessibility and festiveness. “Trick Or Treat” has a rapidly accelerated ending. Everyone’s favorite ghoulish family (apologies to The Munsters) “The Addams Family” is faithful to the original, as is “Ghostbusters”. There is a blues-infused musical conversation between a pumpkin and a little girl, “Gimme A Smile (The Pumpkin Song)”. The whimsical dialogue is amenable and a saxophone (David Woodford) adds a different texture.
There is diversity in the musical arrangements. “Don’t Scream (It’s Only Halloween)” is executed in a rock shuffle. A jagged slide guitar brings muscle to this number and a key change is catchy. The special effects and unique instrumentation on “The Creature From The Tub” intermingle with the benign imagery of “rubber ducky”, “squishy lips” and “wobbly runny”. It wouldn’t be Halloween without the pointed hats and green skin of “Witches, Witches, Witches”. A harpsichord-infused keyboard is a nice touch. Creaking doors, waltz-time synthesizers, screams and a schmaltzy Harry Nilsson-inspired vocal performance help define “In Our Haunted House”. There is melodic complexity and even a Peter Lorre character voice. Again, the weird sound effects and voices help the song along. A frenetic reprise (“Undead Tombstone Remix”) of “Spooky, Scary Skeletons” is rearranged with an electronic dance pulse and displays energetic momentum. It is elevated by advanced studio layering…a good finale!
Andrew Gold’s Halloween Howls: Fun And Scary Music is a lot of fun. The merge of spooky music with pop sensibility is fresh, and the gatefold artwork by Jess Rotter is eye-catching.
Side One: It Must be Halloween; The Monster Mash; Spooky, Scary Skeletons; Trick Or Treat; The Addams Family; Ghostbusters; Gimme A Smile (The Pumpkin Song)
Side Two: Don’t Scream (It’s Only Halloween); The Creature From The Tub; Halloween Party; Witches, Witches, Witches; In Our Haunted House; Spooky, Scary Skeletons (Undead Tombstone Remix).
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