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Rhodes seminal solo recordings remastered with good sound, bonus track
on July 14, 2009
"The Emitt Rhodes Recordings" represents everything that Rhodes recorded post-The Merry-Go-Round (and with "The American Dream" recorded during his tenure with The Merry-Go-Round as well). This excellent boxed set from Hip-O gathers these four albums that have been in and out (largely out) of print for the last 30 years. The sound is exceptionally good. Remastered under the supervision of Bill Levenson, these have a nice dynamic range and the don't have any weird EQ effects to mar the sound of the reissues. I should note for purists that Rhodes has gone on record that he didn't care for the sound on these but he also admitted he didn't listen to them in depth and I suspect he just wanted to remaster them himself.
I can't give you a comparison to anything other than the albums "Listen, Listen: The Merry-Go-Round" anthology and Rhodes self titled album that wsa issued in Japan about seven years ago. In comparison to both of those the respective albums as presented here sound quite good with nice clarity and and the lack of any noise reduction, nice dynamic range, the use of the original masters for all four albums makes this a must have if you're a fan of Emitt's work and don't have it on CD. These definitely sound better than my old worn out copies of the albums on vinyl (with the exception of "Mirror" which I never had on vinyl)
Rhodes has always reminded me of early 70's McCartney backed by Badfinger or even Badfinger's own Pete Ham. Rhodes who played all the instruments, sang all the vocal parts (save for some female backing vocals), engineered and produced the album himself ended up as a staff producer at Elektra Records after getting burned by the music business (he didn't have the rights to any of his songs until recently for example having signed them away as a 17 year old when he was with The Merry-Go-Round and laboring under an unfair contract for years).
The four albums "The American Dream", "Emitt Rhodes", "Mirror" and "Farewell to Paradise" all appear in full ("American Dreamer" also includes a track that was taken off the early pressings and replaced as well as its replacement track). We also get the single A-side track "Tame the Lion" a topical song written in response to the Vietnam War but that still has relevance today.
There aren't any previously unreleased or rare tracks. Levenson has stated that the goal of the album was to get ALL of Rhodes offically released material back into print in one boxed set. "The Emitt Rhodes Recordings" accomplishes this goal with extremely good sounding remasters plus two bonus tracks. This is packaged in a double digipak with the albums arranged by their recording dates ( "The American Dream" is first).
We also get a booklet that is good but does leave a bit to be desired. It's not nearly as good or comprehensive as the booklet that came out with the Rev-Ola reissue of "The Merry-Go-Round: Listen, Listen" set (which also includes "The American Dream"). It might have been nice to have a contemporary interview with Rhodes for this set. Still, Levenson and his crew have done an exceptional job of presenting these classic, long MIA albums in excellent fidelity and with some nice extras.
"The American Dream"-four stars, "Emitt Rhodes"-5 stars, "Mirror"-4 1/2 stars, "Farewell to Paradise"-3 1/2 stars. Sound Quality-4 1/2 stars. Packaging 3 stars.
Highly recommended for fans of power-pop, "The Emitt Rhodes Recordings 1969-1973" is a limited edition release so you should pick it up while you can. After it goes out of print, E-bay will probably be demanding high prices for this terrific collection.