Forty-three years—the entire span of my existence—is how long it has taken for West Coast pop magnate Emmit Rhodes to release the follow-up to his quixotic 1973 LP Farewell to Paradise. And if you ever wondered where ground zero existed for the California end of the American power pop sound, look no further than those first two Emmit LPs (including his eponymous 1971 debut), which took the Beatles-based singles work he was doing in such 60s SoCal groups as The Palace Guard and The Merry-Go-Round and made a lefthand turn to record a pair of underground rock classics in the vein of McCartney and Runt.
Now, after this enormous ocean of time between there and here, some of the very musicians with whom Rhodes had provided the blueprint for their own artistries return the favor on the lovely Rainbow Ends. Blowing the dust off his home studio, Rhodes enlisted producer Chris Price to create these 11 new tracks with the help of a robust lineage from the Golden State’s rich alt-pop history, including Roger Joseph Manning and Jason Falkner of Jellyfish fame, Nels Cline, Aimee Mann, Jon Brion, Susanna Hoffs and Joe Seiders of the New Pornographers among many others. The music this all-star cast puts together, highlighted by such key cuts as What’s a Man to Do,” “I Can’t Tell My Heart” “It’s All Behind Us Now” and “The Wall Between Us”, is uncanny in the way the melodies pick up pretty much exactly where he left off on Paradise all those years ago in a trick not unlike the one Steely Dan pulled with Two Against Nature.
Most folks these days have heard the name Emmit Rhodes primarily from the inclusion of his song “Lullaby” on the soundtrack to Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tannenbaums. But as Rainbow Ends surely testifies, there’s a lot more to appreciate about this lost American treasure of a singer-songwriter.