In truth, there was a time when you couldn't give away Emitt Rhodes albums here in the UK, but something of a rediscovery of his music has taken place in the last two decades that has brought his LPs out of the bargain bins and into the eBay lists.
Hailing from Hawthorne (a suburb in Los Angeles), Rhodes first came to prominence with the US sixties group "The Merry-Go-Round" who made one album for A&M in 1967, their self-titled debut "The Merry-Go-Round". Around the album they issued a wad of singles, but neither bothered the charts. These releases are quite sought after now. And prior to this rather lovely reissue, the only half decent set of his music on CD was a rare 1998 compilation from Edsel of the UK called "Daisy-Fresh". Well not anymore...
Released initially in the USA in May 2009 as a 2CD set, Hip-O Select B0012926-02 is a worldwide limited edition of 5000 which contains 4 full albums and one rare non-album 7" single. It breaks down as follows:
Disc 1 (66:13 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 13 are the album "The American Dream" recorded in 1969 but released after his debut album (14 to 25 below) in April 1971 in the USA on A&M SP-4254 and on A&M AMLS 64254 in the UK
Tracks 14 to 25 are the album "Emitt Rhodes" first issued December 1970 in the USA on ABC/Dunhill DS 50089 and then on Probe Records SPBA 6256 in the UK in February 1971
Disc 2 (70:06 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "Mirror" issued on ABC/Dunhill DSX 50111 in the USA in November 1971 and on Probe Records SPBA 6262 in the UK in December 1971
Tracks 11 to 22 are the album "Farewell To Paradise" issued September 1972 on Probe Records SPBA 6266 in the UK and on ABC/Dunhill DSX 50122 in the USA.
Track 23 is "Tame The Lion", a non-album A-side. In the UK it was on Probe Records PRO 565 and in the USA on A&M 4315, both issued in 1972. "Golden Child Of God" - an album track off "Mirror" - is its B-side in both countries.
The 3-way fold out card digipak houses a 16-page booklet with an appreciation of the man and his music by SCOTT SCHNIDER. There's also a pictorial album-by-album breakdown with relevant production and instrument credits. It's remastered by PETE DOELL at Universal Mastering and sounds fantastic - and given that most of these tracks are self-recorded by Rhodes himself - it's amazing how good they sound. Equally impressive is his musicianship on every track - so proficient, so talented.
Vocally Rhodes is a cross between Nilsson on "Nilsson Schmilsson", Todd Rundgren on "Something/Anything?" and Ron Mael of Sparks on "Kimono My House". But there is also the Beach Boys and Dennis Wilson vibe too. With all these cool influences bounding around, his songs and their arrangements have aroused a lot of interest in those who like their Seventies tunes melodic and layered. His first album is probably his most popular and fans will be glad to see it represented here in its entirety. Also - and impressively - most of the songs on here are entirely written, played, arranged and produced by Emitt Rhodes (how every Prince).
Another nice touch is that the 1st issue of "The American Dream" album had the track "Saturday Night" on it - which was replaced with "You're A Very Lovely Woman" when it was reissued later in a different sleeve - Hip-O has included both tracks so you can sequence either version.
While I like his debut - for me his song writing improved immeasurably on "Mirror". I especially love "Better Side Of Life" and "Really Wanted You" (lyrics above) - very Dennis Wilson - and in a really good way.
To sum up - and as other reviewers have pointed out - this is a superb reissue and luckily for us it's been given a January 2010 UK release for just under twelve quid (rare for Hip-O sets).
It's not all fab of course, but when he was good - he was sit-up-and-take-notice good. Recommended.