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on 15 July 2009
Emitt Rhodes, born in Decatur, Illinois in 1950, is regarded as a power pop master by those who know his music, but somehow he remains one of the most overlooked and under-appreciated pop-rock singer-songwriters of the 60's / 70's despite favourable comparisons to the likes of Paul McCartney and Badfinger. The Hip-O Select label go some way to addressing this travesty with a sumptuous, limited edition, remastered 2CD set which contains four original albums. These albums have largely been out-of-print over the years ("Mirror" and "Farewell To Paradise" have only been issued on CD in Japan until now) so it's a treat to have them reissued together in one definitive package.

"The American Dream", the first album here, was a contractual obligation that was completed by Rhodes after his band The Merry-Go-Round had disbanded in early 1969. It combined leftover band tracks with new Rhodes recordings and featured session players such as Hal Blaine, Larry Knechtel and Don Randi. It was temporarily shelved by A&M but they issued it in 1970, and then again as a slightly different version in early 1971 - a move that only served to confuse consumers as, by then, his first solo album proper was in the marketplace on the ABC-Dunhill label.

Among the highlights on "The American Dream" are `Mother Earth', `Textile Factory', the poignant `Someone Died', the impressively orchestrated `Come Ride, Come Ride', `Let's All Sing' and `You're A Very Lovely Woman' (later covered by Linda Ronstadt). You'll have to look elsewhere though for the Merry-Go-Round's best-known track - the classic `Live', a song later covered by The Bangles.

Widely regarded as his masterpiece, and containing 12 of the finest power pop style songs ever recorded, "Emitt Rhodes" was the first of three home-recorded albums (the words "Recorded At Home" were etched in the vinyl!) and peaked at #29 on the Billboard charts. As the title of the lead single has it, the music still sounds `Fresh As A Daisy' today and is an uptempo, joyous affair which opens with `With My Face On The Floor' (which boasts a McCartney-esque vocal) and includes such gems as `Somebody Made For Me', `Live Till You Die', `You Take The Dark Out Of The Night' and `Lullabye', the latter of which was included in the soundtrack to the 2001 film The Royal Tenenbaums. Rhodes has acknowledged that both James Taylor and Randy Newman were equally as influential on his muse as The Beatles, and this is evident on the material here.

Rhodes' contract called for him to deliver a new album every six months, which unfortunately meant that 1971's `Mirror' was a more rushed affair than his debut and suffered as a result. It's still a strong album by most people's standards but lacked the overall quality control of his debut. Standouts here include jaunty opener `Birthday Lady', the contemplative `Better Side Of Life', gorgeous ballad `Love Will Stone You', the title track, and the stunning rocker `Really Wanted You'.

"Farewell To Paradise" was issued in 1973 (non-album single `Tame The Lion, notable for its anti-war lyrics, had been released the previous year and is included here as a bonus track). Like "Mirror", "Farewell To Paradise" is a patchy affair although the strongest cuts (`Warm Self Sacrifice', `Blue Horizon', `Shoot The Moon' and the melancholic `Only Lovers Decide') demonstrate that his ability hadn't diminished in spite of the record company pressure that he was under. It proved to be Rhodes' final album to date. He became a engineer / producer / A&R man in 1976 and has continued to record other artists since, amassing a large catalogue of his own demos and unrecorded songs in the meantime which fans can only hope will one day see the light of day.

Hip-O Select mark this cult singer-songwriter's output in style with this superb package. The CDs are housed in a attractive foldout digipak. The 16-page booklet incorporates original album artwork, liner notes and credits, and also includes a new set of notes by Scott Schinder that give an overview of Emitt Rhodes' career.

If you're a fan of power pop or melodic singer-songwriters then I strongly recommend picking up this set - and it's a limited edition release so don't hang about!
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Emitt Rhodes is a great lost talent of the late 60s and early 70s. From his very earliest band, The Palace Guard, who had a fine minor US hit with a track called 'Like Falling Sugar', through to his band The Merry-Go-Round, and then on to the early, pre-solo demos that make up the first few tracks on this absorbing double album set, before releasing the glory that was his debut album, Rhodes crafted sweet and thoughful pop music, much of it created by himself in its entirety at his home studio. Positive comparisons abound to the best of solo Paul McCartney, but without the penchant for over-sweetening or simple tweeness that frequently dogs Macca's work, ironically Rhodes would find a much more sympathetic, and potentially larger audience these days, when lesser talents like The Feeling and others seem to be cleaning up. Rhodes' last recordings to be commercially available were released in 1973; he's never troubled us since, which is a great shame. There is not a duff note of music on this nicely-packaged, and strongly tuneful set. A lovely record.
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on 30 January 2010
The musical style herein is both reflective, plaintive and sincere. This self evident quality can never age, because it is from the heart. His able multi-Instrumentation and 4 track recording deck shows modern pop for what they are, running on empty and over produced. His "Emitt Rhodes" debut album has the song " Fresh as a Daisy" which represents the overall buzz of this flawless production.His guitar craft is riveting,just hear "Long Time No See". Also his lyrics featured on "You Should be Ashamed" and "Live Till you Die"" burst with narrative.Brilliant

My Stone classics are "Really wanted You", and ""Love will Stone You", both from "Mirror", which has been slightly underated over the years,relating to issues surrounding his recording time scales. The A & M issued "The American Dream" featured songs I was not familar with, recorded before his offical debut album. A great CD collection, also including " Farewell to Paradise" his swansong Album, with a contemporary singer-songwiter feel to it, check out his " See No Evil", "Trust No One" and "Only Lovers Decide". I suppose his own liner notes set out the reasons for this degree of introspection. Soaring !
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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 self-titled album for A&M Records in 1967.A&M issued a wad of singles to promote the new signing - but neither they nor the album bothered the charts (these releases are quite sought after now). Rhodes then went solo and that's where this long-overdue 2CD career overhaul comes storming in. Here are the Mirrors and American Dreams...

Released initially in the USA in May 2009 as a 2CD set (belatedly released in the UK January 2010) - "The Emitt Rhodes Recordings (1969-1973)" on Hip-O Select B0012926-02 (Barcode 602527042732) is a worldwide limited edition of 5000 that contains 4 full albums and one rare non-album 7" single. It breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (66:13 minutes):
1. Mother Earth
2. Pardon Me
3. Textile Factory
4. Someone Died
5. Come Ride, Come Ride
6. Let's All Sing
7. Holly Park
8. Saturday Night
9. You're A Very Lovely Woman
10. Mary Will You Take My Hand
11. The Man He Was
12. In The Days Of The Old
13. `Til The Day After
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 May 1971 in the UK on A&M AMLS 64254

14. With My Face On The Door
15. Somebody Made For Me
16. She's Such A Beauty
17. Long Time No See
18. Lullabye
19. Fresh As A Daisy
20. Live Till You Die
21. Promises I've Made
22. You Take The Dark Out Of The Night
23. You Should Be Ashamed
24. Ever Find Yourself Running
25. You Must Have
Tracks 14 to 25 are the album "Emitt Rhodes" first issued December 1970 in the USA on ABC/Dunhill DS 50089 and February 1971 on Probe Records SPBA 6256 in the UK

Disc 2 (70:06 minutes):
1. Birthday Lady
2. Better Side Of Life
3. My Love Is Strong
4. Side We Seldom Show
5. Mirror
6. Really Wanted You
7. Medley: Bubble Gum The Blues/I'm A Cruiser
8. Love Will Stone You
9. Golden Child Of God
10. Take You Far Away
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "Mirror" issued on ABC/Dunhill DSX 50111 in the USA in November 1971 and December 1971 n the UK on Probe Records SPBA 6262

11. Warm Self Sacrifice
12. See No Evil
13. Drawn To You
14. Blue Horizon
15. Shoot The Moon
16. Only Lovers Decide
17. Trust Once More
18. Nights Are Lonely
19. Bad Man
20. In Desperate Need
21. Those That Die
22. Farewell To Paradise
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. And 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...
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on 18 March 2015
If you like Paul McCartney, Ron sexsmith, harry Nilson or just good music/songs in general you will love emitt Rhodes and you couldn't get a better cd collection than this to keep you going with and thank you classic rock presents aor magazine it's all your fault!! Go buy a copy.
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on 20 December 2012
Thought that these recordings were long since unavailable. A terrific find as I've had the vinyl versions since 1970 but haven't had a turntable for many years. Great value and a worth a listen if you're also a McCartney fan.
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on 27 February 2010
Apart from the excellent baroque pop album The American Dream released in 1971, which sounds like it was recorded in 1968, Rhodes is a jack of all trades but nothing special in any department. The other albums sound like outtakes of McCartney's most uninspired 70's work. If you love that stuff (which I don't) you might totally disagree with me on this. Not only that but they sound like demos whereas The American Dream sounds like a studio album with real musicians. By Farewell to Paradise the Macca influence is gone leaving uninspired home-made AOR.
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