Emitt Rhodes

Emitt Rhodes (Dunhill 70, One Way '93) Rating: A-
A self-produced, play all the instruments wunderkind, Emitt Rhodes debut album is indeed one of those "lost classics" that are slowly reappearing courtesy of reissue labels and (like it or not) their easy availability due to downloading. It's a minor classic, perhaps, as the album has a certain lightness to it, a few throwaway (yet nevertheless enjoyable) tracks, and a cringe inducing lyric or two. In other words, Emitt Rhodes is like, and sounds like, a very good Paul McCartney album, and indeed it's better than McCartney's self-titled debut solo album released that same year. Rhodes delivers 12 hook filled, "feel good" songs; even a finger pointing, self-pitying track like "You Should Be Ashamed" has such an upbeat melody that I can't help but feel uplifted despite our wronged protagonist's sad plight. Elsewhere, "Somebody Made For Me" is perhaps the album's best imitation of prime Beatles, replete with airy multi-tracked harmonies, and "Long Time No See," with its wailing riffs, is the album's darkest entry, and a highly effective one at that, while "You Take The Dark Out Of The Night" actually lives up to its great title, and "Live Till You Die" offers some good advice along with another nice, singable melody. These are easily, instantly likeable songs, though maybe I only truly love a handful of them (thus ends The Beatles comparisons...). Again, a lyric like "talking about you baby, don't you even know you're fresh as a daisy" brings to mind Paul at his cloying worst, but Rhodes supplies far more guitar heroics than your typical McCartney album (Paul's primary instrument was bass, remember). There are lots of cool guitar noises going on in the background of many of these songs, lending the album a needed bit of edginess and a sense of adventure. That said, by and large these are fairly straightforward if extremely well-crafted songs, and though Rhodes will never win many points for originality, he gets high marks for overall songwriting and performance. Long story short, this album deserves to be much better known; if you've even so much as heard of this album I applaud your musical knowledge. Note: Rhodes' previous band, The Merry-Go-Round, had a modest hit with "Live" in 1967 (it appears on the absolutely essential Nuggets box set). He subsequently recorded three more obscure solo albums (Mirror, 1971; The American Dream, 1971; Farewell To Paradise, 1973); all four solo albums were later compiled on the 2-CD set The Emitt Rhodes Recordings (1969-1973).

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