Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Different Emitt Rhodes, But No Less Worthy

Word on the street had not been promising. Those who had listened to the new Emitt Rhodes record were reporting back with phrases like, "Not as dreadful as I expected" or "I guess it's okay, but I was expecting something less easy listening." I think Seals & Crofts may have even been tossed out as a comparison. So the question is, do I love this new Emitt Rhodes record because I was set up not to or is it truly a great record? I want to say it's the latter, but I'll be realistic and go with a combination of both.

I think it's important to understand one thing-it's been 43 years since Rhodes released an album and if you're a fan, and I am, you have been listening to a 20 year old voice all these years. This is not the voice you're getting on "Rainbow Ends." I want to thank those who set me up with the lukewarm reviews. It made that transition much easier for me.

"Rainbow Ends" may not sound like young solo McCartney the way the Merry Go Round or any of Emitt's first solo albums did. But, with the help of some pop geniuses behind the scenes like Jason Falkner & Roger Manning, as well as producer Chris Price, "Rainbow Ends" is absolutely not a disappointment. If you get inside the warm production and embrace the older man, this is a record that offers some gorgeous melodies and harmonies that are pure Emitt Rhodes.

"If I Knew Then" shuffles along with more than enough nods to Jeff Lynne. An earlier version of "Isn't It So," according to one friend, sounds like something off of a Michael McDonald album. And he's right. But the rerecord found on the new album is a stunner, with a vocal arrangement on the chorus that rivals early Nilsson. I can say great things about almost every song.

This is a pop record made by an adult who along with some very smart friends, made an album that he should be making. It's an album I wish some of my other pop heroes would make. "Rainbow Ends" may not be perfect and maybe Emitt Rhodes has lost just a touch of his wordplay and ability to create intricate melodies, but don't fear. He had enough of both to make "Rainbow Ends" a finer than fine comeback.


Anonymous said...

This, well, OK, and the amazing mixes and BBZ guest posts, are the reason I can't quit this blog; thank you.

buzzbabyjesus said...

His story is so sad, I have trouble listening to his muisc.
I can't hear it without thinking of a talented musician, fucked over by a record contract, which ruined the thing he loved, for so long.

Shriner said...

Fully agree on this album. It's not a stunner, but it's immensely listenable and very well produced.

It probably won't make my "best of 2016", but it was not a disappointment.

Fritz Schwartz said...

I enjoyed this album the first time I played it and it continues to grow on me with repeated listens. As one old enough to have loved Merry Go Round's "Live" when it first aired on Top 40 radio, all I can say is "Welcome back, Emitt!" Wondering what potentially great music we've missed from him the last few decades, pales to what we've no doubt lost due to Pete Ham's way too early demise.

Anonymous said...

grows on me, too. reminds me of Ronnie Lane's albums post-Faces, except with strings.

A walk in the woods said...

Oh, I like it a lot, actually. "Someone Else" is the center of gravity for me - surprised nobody else has mentioned it. Perfect pop, with a forward thrust that's a bit Tom Petty, a bit Brian Wilson, and Emitt's own great sound.

I'm very pleasantly surprised with it. Wouldn't be great if he'd get out and do some shows?

Bruce Kelly said...

I don't really have much to add to Sal's review which is pretty much along the lines of my reaction. I like it quite a lot. Not earth shattering (except of course for the fact that he was actually able to do it), but very nice and at times VERY direct and honest. It can be a little slick at times, but it also can be quite painful if you know his story.

P.S. to Fritz Schwartz, when I think of the saddest stories in rock the two I always think of are Emitt Rhodes and Pete Ham. Pete Ham really gets me. Just awful how that manager destroyed him.