Before I first heard Rainbow Ends by Emitt Rhodes, I chose it from the hundreds of releases that litter the New Albums and Singles page that Spotify updates every Friday. His name was unfamiliar to me and the album cover doesn't exactly scream "Pick me, I'm a good listen!" but I clicked the Play button anyway. And thirty-seven minutes later, I clicked Play again. The songs, from the introspective lyrics to the heart on his sleeve singing to the polished playing, all hit me in my sweet spot and I started to write about it that night so I could share my newly discovered treasure with the world. Then, life happened and the initial draft of that Emitt Rhodes post sat languishing for nearly eighteen months so forgive me if you have already had the good fortune of hearing it - if you have not, please read on.
Despite the cover photo that shows Rhodes apparently crying, not every track on Rainbow Ends is a tear-jerker or even remotely sad. This is top of the line pop played with folks that have a reverence for the finely crafted pop of the Seventies with clean production by Chris Price that sounds almost unsettlingly intimate when listening through headphones as I later did. As much as I enjoyed these songs, I had no idea of the life that Emitt had lived up to this point. But, as I am wont to do, I looked the guy up and discovered this was his fifth release - and his first four albums came out in four-year span of 1970-1973!
As a teenager, Emitt had been in Sixties pop groups The Palace Guard and The Merry-Go-Round, scoring two Top 100 hits with the latter group in 1967. The Merry-Go-Round also performed at the beginning of and three of the four guys appeared as bachelors on an episode of The Dating Game.
After The Merry-Go-Round's sudden break-up, Rhodes took it upon himself to record an album to fulfill their contract and though A&M Records refused to release it when he turned it in, they released him from his contract and he signed with ABC-Dunhill for a $5,000 advance.
Emitt used the money to buy equipment and build a home studio in his parents garage then proceeded to write every song, produce every track and play every instrument himself on three more albums, earning widespread critical acclaim as well as comparisons to Paul McCartney and, due to his pop acumen and autonomy in the studio, the nickname "one-man Beatles".