7.08.2007

Emitt Rhodes: Back in Print (for now, at least)

em.jpg
Photo by Max S. Gerber

As a casual record collector in an Ebay world, out of print albums/CDs can be a great thing. Years ago, when the ad agency I worked for (and the corporation that ran us) chopped the heads off of 90% of their staff, my record collection was the thing that not only saved my ass, but also funded my move to a new city. To this day, if I'm ever shopping for music and find a copy of stuff like Sam Cooke's A Man and His Music or the Satan Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas EP by Soundgarden, I buy them immediately and head right to Ebay.

As a music fan, however, nothing bums me out more than an out of print record. It always makes me think of the scene in the excellent DJ documentary Scratch where DJ Shadow is holed up in a record store basement, surrounded by tens of thousands of obscure vinyl albums, looking for beats. There's this almost melancholic moment where he talks about how all these records represent the broken dreams of the people who made them. It was a thought that hadn't really struck me before: these people got to make a record, and put their talent and their dreams down on vinyl, and even THEN, in most cases, all of that work still lead to nothing.

The best those artists could ever hope for, decades after their dreams have faded, collected dust and wound up in a basement, is for someone who cares enough to resurrect those sounds from the dead. Maybe it's a DJ looking for a beat, or maybe it's some complete music nut who runs his own little label. Maybe that little geek finds something that he loves so much, that he goes through the trouble of contacting the people involved with making it, from the producer to the artist or even the people at the record label, to lovingly reissue the thing.

Well, if I had the money, the resources and the time to get it all done, I'd be championing the cause of EMITT RHODES. I've written about Rhodes once before, years ago when I began this blog under a different name. Still, I can't stop championing the guy.

Rhodes, who had previously been in a 60s pop rock band called The Merry-Go-Round, was a 70s solo songwriter of the highest calibre, a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that he was just turning 20 when he recorded his first album. Imagine a young Paul McCartney without all of the baggage that came with trying to top his work in the Beatles. Rhodes was incredibly talented, playing the bulk of the instruments on his solo recordings. By 1970, he had completed his self-titled solo album, a virtually flawless collection of songs (including the dark, heartbreaking "Lullabye," which would finally find a few new fans when added to the soundtrack to The Royal Tenenbaums).

During this time, Rhodes made the ill-advised move of signing a contract with ABC/Dunhill that ensured he would release two albums a year. This contract would be his downfall. When recording for Rhodes second album, Mirror began to take longer than expected, the label sued. By the time he'd reached age 24, Rhodes was burned out and pulled the plug on his own career. In the years that have followed, the story of Rhodes has just gotten sadder and sadder. A reclusive diabetic, Rhodes can barely muster the courage these days to even finish a song (acording to one article I read, it had been 15 years since he did).

A tragedy and a fucking shame, if you ask me. Rhodes has spent decades shacked up in his old neighborhood, recording songs that no one might ever hear. That breaks my heart, and I don't mean that lightly. I have literally shed tears over the plight of Emitt Rhodes. When I hear Jeff Tweedy sing, on Wilco's "The Late Greats," "The best songs will never get sung / The best life never leaves your lungs," I think of Emitt Rhodes, and the pile of tapes that he probably has stored in a closet somewhere, potentially full of some of the greatest pop songs we'll never get to hear.

Sometimes I wonder if it wasn't such a good thing for me to have found Emitt Rhodes' Emitt Rhodes in the stacks of that record store so many years ago. Or maybe I just wish the record hadn't been so damned good. . . one of those albums where there's a good song or two, but you rarely pull it out of your collection. Then maybe I wouldn't care so much about what happened to the guy whose face graced its cover. I wouldn't think about the raw deal he got, and I wouldn't wonder what the man could have done with a different record deal, a different label.

Normally I'm not a fan of posting entire albums on a blog. But when you go to Half.com or Ebay and see Emitt Rhodes CDs going for $50 to $100, and you know he's never going to see a dime of that moeny, it just doesn't seem right.

Tonight, I'm proposing a sort of deal. I know it's pretty futile to think this will even work, but I'm hoping there might be a handful of you readers who understand this gesture:

I'm posting Emitt Rhodes' first two albums in their entirety, as .rar files. (If readers prefer files in a .zip format, please contact me or leave a message in the Comments section.) Download these albums and spend a little time with them. If you love either one of them half as much as I do, or even if you find a few new favorites among the tracks I'm providing, maybe you might consider sending a check (or some well-concealed cash) to:

Rhodes, Emitt
4636 W 132nd St
Hawthorne, CA 90250-5115

Nothing crazy. If you only like a few songs, maybe send him .99 per track, a la iTunes. If you love the albums, maybe $5 or $10 wouldn't be too much to ask. Personally, I'm working on writing Rhodes a letter of thanks.

If you like the music, guide your friends here. If you write a music blog, send your readers over. Hurry, because I don't know how long I'll be able to keep the files up.

I know, I know. I must be insane to think that people on the Internet would pay for music. Right?

EMITT RHODES (S/T)

MIRROR

And hey, if you happen to run one of those cool little indie labels that takes great joy and pride in re-releasing great, forgotten music, maybe you can give old Emitt a call? I bet there's some real gold to be found in all of those unreleased demos.


MORE

- Here's a little scene of DJ Shadow from the aforementioned Scratch:


- A 2001 article on Rhodes from Perfect Sound Forever.
- A pretty incredible, very enlightening L.A. City Beat article on Rhodes today. If the ending of that story doesn't make you want to send a check, or at the very least, a letter of encouragement to Rhodes, you, sir, are an animal.

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34 comments:

Bryce said...

Thanks so much for this. I've wanted to hear more Rhodes after downloading "Promises I've Made" a couple of years ago. I'm definitely sending some reimbursement his way, and hoping things improve for him.

I'm so bummed. I found a copy of The American Dream at Goodwill a few weeks ago and was on the fence about buying it (for 50 cents!), not realizing how rare it is. I went back today and of course it was gone. You don't have that album available for download, do you? ;)

Dylan Gaughan said...

Wish I did. These are the only albums I have, but I'm on the hunt for anything else I can get my hands on.

Thanks for reading.

joel said...

thanks for introducing me to this guy. Love the s/t especially.

Anonymous said...

Thanks - great stuff.

Nice interview here:

http://www.buhdge.com/audio%20buhdge/rhodes_audio.htm.

Best of:

http://rapidshare.com/files/35261631/Emitt_Rhodes-Listen_Listen_the_best_of_.rar

Anonymous said...

BTW Just found this too:

http://rapidshare.com/files/12926914/American_Dream.ace.html

Dylan Gaughan said...

Oh, SNAP.

Do I have the best readers in the world?

Hangnail Phillips said...

Emitt Rhodes was a huge influence on me. I devoured each of his LPs as they came out. His words and melodies come to mind regularly in every day life like a living soundtrack.

I would love to hear where he is today with his creations.

Hangnail Phillips

Joshua said...

could you put it in zip form? i'd appreciate it.

Vern said...

A great personal tribute to Emitt. Thanks, Man.

I've enjoyed his song writing from the time he put together Merry Go Round. Some of his songs go well beyond the simplicity of a pop tune.

If folks want to help Emitt out, consider purchasing The Merry-Go-Round Listen, Listen: The Definitive Collection on the Rev-Ola label. The copyrights to his songs on this album have been returned to him by the Shaws so he gets royalties for the purchase of this particular CD. You won't be disappointed. In fact, he aided in this project.

George Ferreira said...

Alternate links:

Emitt Rhodes (1970)
http://sharebee.com/711cde76
Mirror (1971)
http://sharebee.com/65a5e4f3
The American Dream (1970/1971)
http://sharebee.com/50050d72
Farewell To Paradise (1973)
http://sharebee.com/5b4e5e01

Dylan Gaughan said...

Fuckin' A. Thanks George.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip on Emitt Rhodes. I've been on a serious 70 pop-rock kick as of late. I heard about Emitt while researching Dwight Twilley. I'm very happy I found Emitt. I recently purchased his self-titled release (the Japanese reissue) and it's simply wonderful. Why it took so long to find this guy I don't know? I listened to a radio interview with Emitt earlier today (google Emitt and you'll find the link) and he sounded fairly upbeat - much more so than the online interviews I've read.

Thanks for the links guys! I ordered "American Dream" yesterday and I'm enjoying "Mirror" via your blog. If you're sure Emitt resides at that address I might drop him a twenty..

Now back to masterful 70's pop ala Rundgren, Twilley-Seymour, Emitt Rhodes, Beatles solo records, Raspberries, Mott the Hoople, etc...

Great blog Dylan! Thanks so much for sharing too..

Spencer

Dylan Gaughan said...

I'm fairly certain that is still Emitt's address. If you're hesitant, just do a phone book search for his name. . . as far as I can tell, he's not unlisted (and definitely not hiding out). I found the address after a recent article I'd read listed the town he lived in in California. I just did a web search for his address and there he was.

Dylan

n8w8 (nachtwacht/nightwatch) said...

Anonymous said...
BTW Just found this too:
http://rapidshare.com/files/12926914/American_Dream.ace.html


I'd rather see that you mentioned my blog instead of stealing my link.
www.secretvault.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

thank you so much for the emitt rhodes info and music and address and rejoinder to send the $'s to him. i am 60 years old and have been listening to this man since it first came out. this guy was so beautiful, effortlessly. thanks again

Dylan Gaughan said...

Thanks to you, Anon. Good to hear from another listener who got to revel in Rhodes' glory back in the day.

I'm keeping these two albums available to download pretty much until a lawyer contacts me to tell me otherwise. More than anything, I'm hoping it's a lawyer for Emitt himself, announcing that the records will soon be re-released so Emitt can finally reap the financial rewards he deserves.

Dylan

David said...

Thank you SO much for these. I have been after Emitt's debut album for so long. You are an absolute star.

And yes, I will be sending a cheque to the man himself.

:-)

Anne said...

"THE AMERICAN DREAM"

I happen to have a CD of it, re-released in Russia in 2006 under license from "Universal Music Plc." It may be a bootleg, but if it is, it's a damn good one. Fidelity is CD-quality stereo. It's a great album.

Radiohead got it right. I think the idea of offering it up to the masses and bypassing the shithead record companies that squelched this great talent is perfect. If you are interested in adding this album to your offerings, let me know how I can provide it to you.

And if anyone likes it, PLEASE send Emitt a few bucks. Every little bit counts. It's never too late.

L R H said...

Emitt Rhodes is just a month older than me. I purchased three of his albums in the 1970's. I remember hearing the Emitt Rhodes album which was released around the same time as McCartney's first solo album. Emitt Rhodes was a superior album in my opinion and the finest album of 1970. It is still in my top 10 albums of all time. Elton John's first US release and Emitt Rhodes were my favorite albums of 1970. I remember this well because I was working at a large department store during the 1970 Christmas season. I would go to a local record store on my lunch hour which is when I first became aware of Emitt Rhodes. This is sort of when I feel I was starting to grow up and understand what was important in my life. This recording was a stepping stone to my adulthood. I plan to write to Emitt and send a donation.

Dylan Gaughan said...

Great comments, L R H, and thank you for reading.

If you happen to stop by my site again, please let me know if you get confirmation that this is still Emitt's address. I've gotten a lot of responses from people who plan to send him letters and donations, but have never heard if anyone got through.

lhale1950 said...

Hello, I wrote to Emitt about three weeks ago but have received no response.

leesa said...

Hiya!

Emitt 's stuff is amazing... His first album is my fave... Mirror is great too... and Farewell... is nice but has a very dark underpinning... likely somewhat biographical from what was happening in his life at that point.

From a few interviews I've read (Scram Magazine) he seems kinda "lost..." Poor Emitt seems to have psychologically suffered from the emotional abuse that was dealt him.

The Merry-Go-Round: Listen Listen: The Definitive Collection is the best Pre-Solo Emitt stuff... Great sound and I think it's all of the previously released MGR and the American Dream album... with great bonus tracks! 29 tracks in all... (and, ssshhhh, there is a hidden track too...) WELL WORTH the $9.95 to Rev-Ola.

If it's true that Emitt gets royalties, then you should pick this up from Rev-Ola's site!

http://www.revola.co.uk/

There are supposedly some Boots of Emitt's stuff... Some Demos, some Live from way-back, and another concert he did not too terribly long ago...

Anyone know about these?

~leesa

leesa said...

I like Spencer's taste: "Rundgren, Twilley-Seymour, Emitt Rhodes, Beatles solo records, Raspberries, Mott the Hoople, etc..." (Well, Mott the Hoople, not so much...) But Todd is godd, and Twilley is awesome!

If anyone likes this list, they should search out Ian Gomm at the blogs. He played with Nick Lowe in Brinsley Schwarz and his first two albums are of serious "Classic-Like" quality.

~leesa

Jim Boggia said...

Hey,

Thanks so much for shining the light. I had the pleasure of working with Emitt a few years ago on my last album. We co-wrote a tune and he sang background vocals with me. "Thrill" does not begin to describe it.

One correction I can make - Emitt HAS new tunes. He played maybe 4 or 5 of them for me when we were together and said there were more. He has not lost his touch with sublime melodies and chord progressions and his lyrics have a depth to them now that wasn't there as a 20 year old.

About a year ago he asked through a friend about making a record together - he didn't want it to be "his" record, whatever that means. I was in the midst of making my new album and when I got back to him he was back in unreachable mode. Maybe if people contact him and let him know there is a desire to hear his NEW songs, he'll get into the idea of it again. I know I would love to do it.

Dylan Gaughan said...

Jim, this is so much good news all at once I barely know what to write.

More than anything, I'm just so glad to hear about Emitt back at work. I would love to hear him in any capacity, even as a backing vocalist. What song did he help write/work on?

God, I hope he becomes reachable again. I hope you get to work with him, and I hope you can keep us up to date on the progression of that work. I've received more responses on this post than I have about anything I've ever posted on Pimps of Gore. These two albums have been downloaded by over 1600 readers... if even 5% of those people could reach out to Emitt and thank or encourage him, maybe we'll hear from him again.

Thanks for reading, Jim

leesa said...

Hi again:

Thanx for such a thoughtful conversation about Emitt...

Hey Jim... how was Emitt to work with? I read the Scram interview and he came off pretty weird... (but I'm wondering now if this was because of the slant of the two interviewers... maybe they wanted to make Emitt look like a jerk. If that's true, they are really creeps).

I also listened to the very nice interview (above) with Emitt (as an mp3) and he sounds like a nice humble fella...

So, how was he?


~leesa

L R H said...

Hi Dylan,

I wish you a nice holiday and I hope Emitt is well and someone can get through to him.

Clif said...

OK, so I'm late, but thanks anyway for the article and the idea.

L R H said...

I am disappointed that I wrote to Emitt and he never responded.
My money is limited but I was willing to share some with Emitt even though we have never met in real life. I am more angry that I was so close to connecting with him but he either does not want to be bothered or maybe he moved away. Emitt, I still think about you and your music did influence my life in 1970. I hope you find some peace in your life in spite of some of your fans trying to get too close. Maybe you do not like outsiders trying to pry. We are just concerned. I will try to feel a little more secure knowing I was so close to making contact.

Joe said...

Hey guys. Would there be any way to get a re-up of "Farewell to Paradise"? It's the only Rhodes album missing in my collection. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.

true blue said...

Thank you so much to everyone who shared a story about Emitt Rhodes, I am really becoming a huge fan but can't find these two albums:

The American Dream (1970/1971)

Farewell To Paradise (1973)

If someone could upload them it would mean so much to me, the two links provided in this post are really blowing my mind, I'd love to listen to all his music.

Anonymous said...

This is a great site. I have known Emitt for 44 years and grew up in the same town. In fact we learned drums from the same teacher and played in the Hawthorne parade together, he played snare and I played bass drum. When I was 14 he asked me if I wanted to play in his band (merry-go-round) and I declined because I didn't think I was good enough at the time. Over the years he has been a good friend by letting me share what he was doing and helping Hawthorne high do a soung track for a school performance. He was awesime and very caring. He even recorded a song that I created and let me do it without charge. I livr in Arizona now and every once in awhile get a dchance to get to Hawthorne and usually look Emitt up to see how he is doing. The last time I saw him he was in a funk which saddenned me so. In fact he said he didn't really want to see me which broke my heart, knowing that his illness has gotten the best of him. I didn't let him know that I was sad that he thought that of me but understood him. I can only hope that someday he will find peace with himself as I think the world of him.
Al Rocca 7/22/100

Anonymous said...

Update: I just got off the phone with Emitt and he sounds great. He says he is working on some new material and hopes to have it out soon. It was awesome to hear him in such a good mood. I only hope the best for the man. Your fans can't wait to hear some new music from you!!!!

Anonymous said...

the first song I learned to play on guitar was 'Live' by the Merry Go Round...I can still remember my brother's band playing it in the Fullerton battle of the bands concert in the late 60's...thanks for his address...I will be sending a check...I love the guys music...