Olivia and I were walking back from the sea the other day when a beautiful red Ferrari Dino idled by. It was J reg which means it was 1970 and if you ever watched The Persuaders with Roger Moore and Tony Curtis, it was the car that Tony Curtis drove, Roger had an Aston Martin DBS. A car like that is worth $200,000-$300,000 depending on condition. Can you imagine having a car that’s worth more than your house? Can you imagine having a house? Can you imagine having a car? What do we do about wealth in today’s world? Do people deserve their toys? Should I own those guitars and the record collection? Should footballers earn more in a week than most people earn in ten years and more in five years than most people would earn in five lifetimes?
But this is what we subscribe to in our society. There’s a whole lot of hard-working men and women at a football match who watch their heroes earn so much without complaint. Most people don’t have a problem with this because if they were in the position of earning so much money they would take it. Other people call the concept of outrageous wages obscene. In football the money that comes through the gate is huge, the television rights money is huge, the advertising money is huge, the sponsorship money is huge. In hospitals and healthcare, the money it costs to operate is huge. Perhaps football teams should run hospitals.
It was the last day of the football season today and we found out the final positions in the Premiership and who qualified for the mega-money Champions League (Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea), who got relegated, Norwich, Bournemouth, Watford, and who is coming into the Premier League from the Championship (the division below.) That will be Leeds and West Brom and whoever wins the playoffs between Brentford, Fulham, Cardiff and Swansea. Suddenly these lower teams will have a massive cash injection and the relegated teams will be laying off their staff. It’s bad out there in the dog eat dog world of finance and success. In the lower divisions, the money flows less freely. With the F.A. Cup, Champions League and Europa League (the competition games still to be played) it will not leave much time between the end of this season and the start of the next (September 12th) and then the whole thing starts again, hopefully pandemic free.
Free enterprise makes billionaires and leaves people behind but certain political systems seem to work well, systems that use aspects of both philosophies. Countries like Sweden, but it’s a small population which makes everything easier. That’s the sad thing about England, I thought that with freedom of speech and the concept of free enterprise and a National Health Service we were a country that was attempting to bring elements of both political systems, Capitalism and Socialism, into play. What happened?
I’m just a musician trying to create music, promote music, preserve music and teach music. If I was Bono (who I don’t dislike in any way, he’s just a bloke that sings) or any rich Rock god, I’d have a string of music projects in the same way that rich footballers and tennis stars have their own academies. I guess Paul McCartney has done this in Liverpool.
French today was the bare minimum and I finished at No. 34 in the league. I didn’t go up and I didn’t go down. It was a busy week but I did still manage to get to French every day, the blog, the studio, the sessions. Catching up with emails is another thing, if you are waiting to hear from me, I’m trying, I’ll get to it. Olivia and I are trying to finish the Handwritten & Illustrated Lyrics too.
Another week ahead of uncertainty of the world. Have sympathy for the minorities in Poland, Americans under Trample, Uighurs, Kurds, Syrians, the people of Yemen and those are just the ones that skirt the news, imagine what you miss, what the newspapers don’t report, what governments hide. The turmoil created by the pandemic and now hurricanes are coming and floods and Lorde (NZ singer) knows what else. But seriously, how do we deal with the mess of Earth without humourous condemnation (Colbert), satire or physical demonstration or at least the right to criticise the makers of the pain with free speech in the free press? Not everyone is allowed to do that. If you are not fighting for your life or principles and have food and shelter, count your lucky stars.
Sadly, music today has to be a tribute to another great loss that I haven’t seen reported anywhere other than on Wikipedia’s R’n’R deaths 2020 page that I check for this very reason. On July 19th we lost Emitt Rhodes, otherwise known as the one-man Beatles. I mentioned him recently when I posted Fairport Convention performing Time Will Show The Wiser after the loss of Judy Dyble – Emitt Rhodes wrote that song when he was in an earlier sixties incarnation with the band The Merry-Go-Round.
The whole story of Emitt Rhodes is a music industry disaster. He signed a contract with ABC/Dunhill Records that demanded a certain number of albums a year. He was the singer, the songwriter, the producer, the engineer, the pianist, the bassist, the guitarist and the drummer. He couldn’t possibly keep up with the demands of the contract, one album every 6 months, and this led to litigation that had the record label suing him and withholding royalties and that had him retreat from the ambition of releasing regular albums for more than four decades.
In 1970, Rhodes released his first self-titled solo album and if you like Paul McCartney or Harry Nilsson or both, you need this record. Great songwriting and singing, catchy songs, ideas, a great debut album. It was recorded at home on a 4-track, when he was signed he transferred the music onto an 8-track and redid the vocals. The song Fresh As A Daisy made it to No. 54 on the Billboard charts, the album an impressive No. 29.
It gets tricky from here on. The Merry-Go-Round were signed to A&M releasing just one album in 1967. The single Live from that album reached No. 63 on the chart. (The B-side was Time Will Show The Wiser.) The A-side was covered by The Bangles on their impressive debut album All Over The Place released in 1984. After The Merry-Go-Round had broken up and Rhodes was having success as a solo artist, A&M still had the rights to songs recorded 1967-1969 but decided not to release them. Without approval, they changed their minds and released The American Dream in 1971 to cash in on the success of the ABC/Dunhill Records released solo album.
In the same year, Mirror was released confusing the public – it didn’t follow up the success of the first album. One more album, Farewell To Paradise, was released in 1973 and that was that. I don’t have Farewell To Paradise but there’s a compilation on Spotify that covers all his solo releases. After 43 years in 2014, Rhodes released an album aptly titled Rainbow Ends. It’s a lovely record and he never lost his skills as a writer and musician, engineer and producer. He was screwed by the music industry who could only understand numbers and not art and talent.
You can find his records quite easily secondhand in America at reasonable prices but pick up Rainbow Ends on vinyl sooner rather than later because it must have been a limited release as newer albums by artists like this usually are. Guests include Aimee Mann, Susanna Hoffs, Nels Cline and Pat Sansone from Wilco, Jon Brion, Roger Manning Jr. and Jason Falkner.
RIP Emitt Rhodes, condolences to family and friends.
Video Of The Day includes this PledgeMusic trailer, remember PledgeMusic, another greedy music business disaster. The second clip is a promo from back in the day. It’s the track Really Wanted You from Mirror (1973).