Last year I discovered Emitt Rhodes’ self-titled first album, thanks to an article in Tape Op. It’s a masterpiece of fuzzy early 70’s pop songs – all instruments played by Mr. Rhodes in his home studio. A friend of mine once said: “The solo album McCartney should have made.” And he’s right. All great songs (Well, except for ‘Fresh as a Daisy’ but 11 out of 12 is pretty good) that approximate late Beatles production surprisingly well. It’s out of print on it’s own, but is available as the first twelve tracks of ‘Daisy-Fresh from Hawthorne, California (The Best of the Dunhill Years),’ which also includes a sampling of Mr. Rhodes’ later albums (None of which ever seemed to equal the promise of the first). I’ve posted an MP3 of one song from the self titled album – ‘Long Time No See,’ and a much later recording that is included as the last track on the collection but never appeared on a proper Emitt Rhodes album: ‘Tame the Lion.’
My friend Dave recently sent me a link to this article. Erik Himmelsbach catches up with Rhodes who has apparently been paralyzed by depression all these years – seeing little to no money for the music he wrote. The article outlines the contract he signed with Dunhill, which puts the later albums in a more understandable context – the contract required him to produce a full album of material every six months.
“I knew it was wrong, because it didn’t make sense,” Rhodes says. “Six months a record … and I just spent nine months in the studio every day. When was I going to perform? When was I going to tour? When was I going to take a vacation? When was I going to have a life? I did it because I was stupid.”
There’s a good site dealing with all things Emitt, including some rare live mp3’s and photos of his home studio. It also looks like the latest issue of SCRAM! magazine has a new interview with Mr. Rhodes, including all sorts of photos.
It’s also worth noting that much like Klaatu, whom I wrote rather extensively about in my March 2003 entry, Emitt’s debut was suspected of being a disguised Beatles album. There are transcripts and downloadable MP3’s of a call-in radio show discussing the possibility here.