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I’ve always been an Emitt Rhodes fan. I liked his early work with the Merry-Go-Round and his classic early 70s power pop solo records. In fact, I featured both in a SotW on July 16th, 2011. So I was very excited a few months ago when I read in Mojo that he would be releasing his first full length album since 1973. But I wondered if it would be even slightly possible that he could make an album up to his prior standards after all these years.
Well it’s out now and the answer is a resounding YES!
He can still sing, he can still craft a catchy melody and his lyrics reflect the maturity you would expect from a guy that’s had 43 years to sort out song ideas he’s kept stuffed in envelopes all this time. But what impresses me most is how much feeling these songs convey.
Rhodes, who was famous for playing all the instruments on his 70s solo albums is no one man band this time around. He’s enlisted the help of some younger power pop artists — Roger Joseph Manning Jr. & Jason Falkner of Jellyfish (refer back to SotW on May 23rd, 2015), Aimee Mann (‘Til Tuesday), Susanna Hoffs (whose Bangles recorded the Merry-Go Round’s “Live”), Taylor Locke (Rooney) and drummer Joe Seiders (New Pornographers). This was clearly a labor of love for all involved.
Today’s SotW is the album opener, “Dog on a Chain.”
It starts out like a folk song – just guitar and vocals. After the first verse and chorus the full band joins in and the song gets a lift. Aimee Mann provides a vocal harmony and Jon Brion, who was in ‘Til Tuesday’s touring band and played on Jellyfish’s Spilt Milk, adds additional harmony and a nice guitar solo. . (This is a very incestuous group of musicians, isn’t it?)
The lyrics tells the familiar story of a man who has sacrificed his own desires to please his woman only to find she no longer loves the man she molded him into and wants a divorce. With his tail between his legs he says:
I was led along like a dog on a chain
Out in the cold, out in the rain
I was led along like a dog on a leash
I did as told while she did as she pleased
She berates me
Calls me crazy
Once she praised me
Now she hates me
I can’t see how I have changed
The entire album is available on Spotify. Go check it out.
Enjoy… until next week.