Emitt Rhodes – Really Wanted You (and some other stuff..)


Emitt Rhodes

Listen – Really Wanted You – MP3

Greetings all.
Sorry for the delay in posting but it was a very busy weekend.
I’ve been busy with all manner of family stuff – generally fun and rewarding but time consuming nonetheless – and haven’t had a lot of the kind of downtime I need to get my head together and write.
First off, the wife and I actually got to see a couple of movies this weekend (one on video and the other in an honest to goodness movie theater, which when you have two small children and limited babysitting options is a rarity indeed).
The video half of the deal was ‘Hot Fuzz’, the latest pic by the gang that did ‘Shaun of the Dead’. It was a truly funny and imaginative exercise in turning genre convention on its head, smartly written and played.
Second was the new Judd Apatow film ‘Superbad’, which was genuinely hilarious (if a tiny bit overlong). We’ve been big fans of Apatow and Apatow-related product since the ‘Freaks and Geeks’ days (if you’re not hit, get…hip that is), right on through ‘Undeclared’, ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’, bypassing (temporarily) ‘Knocked Up’ and right on into ‘Superbad’.
Apatow has become something of an auteur of awkward adolescence, and though his is the name that most critics go to immediately when discussing these TV series and films, it’s important to note the contributions of writer/director Paul Feig (who’s stories made ‘Freaks…’), Seth Rogen (who co-wrote ‘Superbad’) and the actors (enough of whom make repeat appearances – Rogen included – to constitute a kind of Apatow Repertory) that populate them.
That Apatow is a major connecting thread between these productions suggests (rightly) that he has a “sensibility”, and that it touches a nerve with a large portion of the population, across age groups. Let’s face it, if you’re not currently an awkward adolescent, chances are that you were one once.
Not to mention that ‘Superbad’ features and excellent soundtrack with incidental music created by a who’s-who of James Brown alumni including Clyde Stubblefield, and Bootsy and Phelps Collins.
In a completely unrelated note, I’m in the midst of Neil Gabler’s excellent (and extremely thorough) biography of Walt Disney. I recommend it highly to fans of animation, as the information about how Disney’s early days in Kansas City, where he intersected with Ub Iwerks, Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Carl Stalling (all important names in the animation and in Stallings’s case, cartoon music) is fascinating.
Anyway, I can’t ramble on like this without posting some music, so post I shall.
I first became aware of Emitt Rhodes via the Bangles 1984 cover of the Merry Go Round’s ‘Live’. Oddly enough, for those that only remember dross like ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’, the Bangles – starting out as the Bangs – were part of the LA Paisley Undergound garage/mod revival, and some of their early work (especially ‘Real World’, and ‘I’m In Line’) is a marvelous evocation of 1966 Sunset Strip pop. Part of this ongoing homage was that Merry Go Round cover, originally recorded in 1966 when Rhodes (lead singer of the band) was only 16.
Prior to the formation of the Merry Go Round, Rhodes had been in a band called the Palace Guard (who had a very minor hit with a tune called ‘Falling Sugar’). Even the Merry Go Round – who recorded a single self-titled LP for A&M – weren’t around all that long*.
Following his tenure in the Merry Go Round, Rhodes retreated to his home studio (quite the rarity in the late 60’s) and started to make his own music. Though his was heavily influenced by the Beatles, Rhodes had his own sound and was an outstanding songwriter. Today’s selection (a fave of mine since I first heard it more than 20 years ago) hails from his second LP for ABC/Dunhill, ‘Mirror’.
‘Really Wanted You’ sounds like someone got ahold of Big Star and cleaned them up. Rhodes was nothing if not poppy, and ‘Really Wanted You’ has hooks to spare. Unlike so much of the Beatle-influence pop being made at the time, it also manages to rock, with some exceptional guitar.
After his third LP for ABC Rhodes pretty much ceased to record (at least for public consumption) and began his second career, as a power pop cult figure whose music is cherished by musicians and hardcore fans, and known by few (if any) others.
Unfortunately it appears that none of Rhodes’ solo work is currently in print (at least in affordable, domestic issues). If you’re the type that spends time in flea markets and garage sales, the actual records (remember those) turn up from time to time.
I’ll be back later in the week with some more sounds.


* They were around long enough for Fairport Convention to cover ‘Time Will Show the Wiser’ during a 1968 session for the BBC

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  1. Ahh…Emitt Rhodes. Man, I’m convinced you’re my brother from another mother as every time you post, it’s something I would post or a new discovery I dig immensely.

    Yeah, I’ve been lucky enough to pick up the first to ABC albums over they years and they blow me away. It’s like all the best ideas on Paul McCartney’s first LP stretched out and embellished. His albums are the kind you either get or don’t, but if you do, you really do.

    There was a great interview with him in Tape Op a few years ago where he detailed the processes he used to record these records (he played everything himself in his garage at a time when that wasn’t easy to do.) Unfortunately my copy was lost in the great coffee mug disaster of ’05 which also took out a few back issues of Wax Poetics. Such is life.

  2. Thanks Captain!
    Glad to hear you’re digging the stuff.
    I think Rhodes is really a lost treasure who was kind of missed by the public at large. I recently saw a picture of him as he is today and it was a shock. He kind of looked like Roky Erickson at his wildest (though I don’t get the impression the resemblance was anything more than physical).
    There was a cool one-disc retrospective of his Merry Go Round and solo stuff a few years back (out of print now), but he really deserves at least a two disc retrospective covering the years from the Palace Guard onward. Or – and this would be nice – a tribute album by other groups.

  3. Fairport covered “Time” on their 1967 debut album, too — a killer version, in fact!

  4. Thanks!,

  5. This post is quite old, but I’ll take my chances: There’s an Emitt Rhodes tribute album coming out very soon. It’s the swedish label Groover Recordings that’s collected a bunch of different bands to cover Emitts songs.

    It should be out pretty soon. The address to the label is grooverrecordings.com

  6. […] in the UK by none other than Fairport Convention. If you haven’t checked out the Merry Go Round (or Rhodes’ solo stuff), there are plenty of CD reissues that cover both phases of his career, and they are all worth […]

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