I have commented on Rhodes' other albums on this blog. There you will also find biographical detail on him.
He, like Nick Drake, has come to venerated after the fact. A cult hero for music hipsters to rally around. Unlike Drake, though, Rhodes lived to see the adulation (no matter how small) and even released a new album, "Rainbow Ends", earlier this year (2016).
Rhodes, when discussed in the press (an, errr here) will always have Paul McCartney mentioned somewhere in the discussion. It is clear that Rhodes was influenced by McCartney but to forever refer to him as some sort McCartney remora is unfair. Rhodes had progressed musically and was commencing, with this album, to break free of the McCartney descriptions. Apart from utilising other instruments he is aware of what is happening around him musically. His song writing has moved into singer songwriter territory (though not exclusively) and there are some funky tunes, jazzy touches and a bit of everything else to go along with the pop orchestrations.
That doesn't mean this album is better than his earlier ones, just that Rhodes was exploring other territory.
But, it ended here. This was to be his last album for 43 years. As the armchair critics love to point out, even the album's title, "Farewell to paradise" is sort of prophetic.
Rhodes had had enough of the music industry and his personal life was unravelling. He called it quits.
Whether he had that state of mind at the time of writing or recording this album I do not know but there are enough signposts here to suggest that he wasn't the happiest camper though he wasn't morose either. In fact there is more than a little optimism (albeit melancholic optimism) on this album which people seem to ignore, probably because it doesn't fit in well with their already preconceived review.
Then again, the US in 1973 wasn't all fun and games with it's increase in urban violence, urban degradation, hurricanes, airplane crashes, the Watergate scandal, increased militancy of the American Indian Movement who occupy Wounded Knee, and its ongoing Vietnam War, which will end shortly though not before resumed bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong. Farewell to Paradise could be an observation on the external world not just the personal or internal one.
Oh, and "the whole album was written, arranged, produced, recorded, engineered and all instruments performed by Emitt Rhodes" at his home.
Of course, that wouldn't mean shit if the music wasn't good, but it is.
Now, if only Val Stöecklein would be rediscovered.
How do I start a (music) cult?
Tracks (best in italics)
- Warm Self Sacrifice – Rhodes may have been exploring music beyond McCartney but here is doing a McCartney impersonation.
- See No Evil – a gentle mid tempo ballad that sounds like what McCartney would have if he had moved into soft rock. OK, I' have to stop with the McCartney observations.
- Drawn to You – a gentle funky workout and very engaging.
- Blue Horizon – A beautiful faux country number with a touch of John Denver.
- Shoot the Moon – very funky by Rhodes standards.
- Only Lovers Decide – a beautiful ballad as good as anything else from the era.
- Trust Once More – another ballad and another winner.
- Nights Are Lonely – a rock track. It doesn't "rock out" but it does have a rock groove. Quite unusual for Rhodes.
- Bad Man – this one is all over the place, part McCartney (I tried not to use him), part Nilsson, part 70s era Tim Buckley.
- In Desperate Need – another funky workout which is entertaining.
- Those That Die – (from Tame the Lion) – a short rumination on war.
- Farewell to Paradise – Here Rhodes is moving in on Jimmy Buffett Florida keys territory. The song is gentle and quite relaxing, though never as laid back as anything Buffet would do.
Not as good as his first two albums but there are tracks of individual brilliance and it is still better than a lot of other music from 1973. … I'm keeping it.
Warm Self Sacrifice
See No Evil
In Desperate Need
Farewell to Paradise
- Pop wunderkind Curt Boettcher was the mixdown engineer