Emitt is 21 years old here.
It is amazing how fully realised his music is.
That’s not to say it isn’t derivative but there are enough original ideas and inspiration to make him stand out.
Check my other comments for biographical detail about Rhodes.
Musically, it would be fair to say he was heavily influenced by the Beatles, specifically Paul McCartney.
Here, on his second album, there is both a pop operatic lushness and an angry punch coming through which is pure Nilsson. Granted, Nilsson was also influenced by The Beatles but Nilsson, a great individualist, took his inspirations and went off on crazy tangents.
Rhodes doesn’t commit himself to Nilsson’s path but he does travel somewhere between McCartney and Nilsson on this album.
It’s great to here him in rockier territory (both musically and thematically) and the songs are uniformly good.
Rhodes, who wrote all the songs (as he did on first album the year before…another album of older material was released by another label so you could call this his third album) never ventures outside the boundaries he has put in place. But, his music is that good within those boundaries that you would be a fool to care.
Rhodes also produces the album which was recorded at his home (in his mums garage). He also plays all the instruments (!) .
Music is a collaborative process apparently.
The only question that remains is: Emitt Rhodes, what happened?
Tracks (best in italics)
- Birthday Lady – a aggressive pop song with some bitterness. Very Nilsson. With some forceful vocal dynamics, also reminiscent of Nilsson. Magnificent.
- Better Side of Life – a beautiful ballad.
- My Love Is Strong – a angry love song.
- Side We Seldom Show – filler, pleasant though.
- Mirror – a excellent uptempo Beatles-esque self examination with the inevitable mirror motif.
I’ve been looking for safety, there’s none to be found
I’ve been looking for safety, where there’s no safe ground
The mirror always knows
- Really Wanted You – this one has a genuine funk groove and moves away from McCarrtney et al and anticipates some of the power pop of The Rasberries etc.
- Medley: Bubble Gum the Blues / I’m a Cruiser – slightly silly filler …but, again, pleasant.
- Love Will Stone You – a haunting mid tempo love song.
- Golden Child of God – a beautiful song though slightly precious. A little John Lennon like also.
- Take You Far Away – some nice psych pop touches
Not as good as Rhodes first album but only by a hair …. magnificent, I’m keeping it. Actually, it may be as good as the first album …it’s too close to call.
1971 The Billboard 200 #182
Really Wanted You
Love Will Stone You
Golden Child of God
- perhaps here is an explanation for Rhodes dissappearance: burnout. "After three LPs the Emitt Rhodes story becomes half-legend, half cautionary tale. The story goes the artist had trouble with his record label, which ultimately led to his dropping out of the music business altogether. Numerous tales and explanations exist, but his wiki sums it up as the following: Rhodes’ contract with Dunhill Records called for “a new LP every six months (six albums over three years) – a schedule that was impossible for Rhodes to meet, due to writing all of the songs and recording each instrument and vocal individually by himself. Dunhill sued Rhodes for $250,000 and withheld royalties because of his failure to deliver albums on the timescale required by the contract. Emitt Rhodes took nearly a year to record, Mirror took nine months, and Farewell to Paradise took over a year.”http://www.aquariumdrunkard.com/2009/07/09/the-emitt-rhodes-recordings-1969-1973/