Emitt Rhodes is often written off as nothing more than a Paul McCartney wanna-be. Well, who wouldn't want to have a beautiful voice, be able to write lush and unforgettable melodies and also be rich and famous? Certainly Rhodes qualifies on the first two counts (failed miserably on the third) and to be honest his voice does sound eerily reminiscent of McCartney, but his strong songwriting and the deeply emotional qualities he brings to those songs make him far more than a McCartney clone. This CD covers the three records he made for Dunhill in the early 1970s, including all of his self-titled debut solo release. Emitt Rhodes is a lost classic filled with songs that easily stack up against the finest power pop. "Fresh As a Daisy" should have been a number one hit, with it's soaring vocal harmonies and star-crossed melody. "Live Till You Die" has beautiful vocals and the kind of chorus you find yourself humming all day long. Every song has a knockout hook, and the whole record sounds like it was recorded directly from Rhodes' soul. A pop masterpiece. Also included on the disc are six songs from his second album, 1972's Mirror, and five songs from his third (and, so far, last) album, 1973's Farewell to Paradise. The tracks from Mirror are not as lush and feel less immediate than those from Emitt Rhodes. The melodies don't sparkle and there seems to be a lack of inspiration and emotion. Having said that, Mirror is still a very good record, and the tracks Edsel chose are the best from it (although they left off "Bubblegum the Blues," which is a light-hearted romp that offsets some of Mirror's world-weary feeling). Farewell to Paradise finds Rhodes experimenting with new instrumentation and expanding his musical palette. Some of the songs, like "Warm Self Sacrifice," have a kind of rollicking, earthy feel, and "Shoot the Moon" is even downright funky. Again, Rhodes is in fine vocal form, and the songs Edsel chose from Farewell to Paradise are uniformly good. Emitt Rhodes missed his shot to become a pop star but you shouldn't miss your chance to discover him and this is a fine place to start. (You should also check out Listen Listen: The Best of Emitt Rhodes, which has songs from Rhodes' three solo albums and five great songs by his 1960s group the Merry-Go-Round).
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra