From time to time, an artist or band will come along that will absolutely exceed all musical expectations. They will go beyond the stratosphere of excellence, and invade your eardrums with sounds of astonishment. This is what we have here with Los Angeles, band The Merry-Go-Round.
One may be familiar with lead singer Emitt Rhodes, who put out some very impressive albums during the early 1970’s. Now playing guitar (he was originally a drummer) he and his friends began rehearsing in his parents garage before being signed to A&M Records. Soon enough, studio magic would commence, and a cult following of the group would appear. The first single to come out of these sessions was “Live.” An ultra catchy number that will be stuck in one’s head for days after listening, and has The Beatles written all over it. There have been numerous comparisons of Emitt Rhodes to Paul McCartney, but none seem as apparent as on here. As stated, the band were from California, but that may come as a surprise to many, as Rhodes uses an authentic British accent on this record. The B-side to that, “Time Will Show The Wiser”, is also included on here, as it should be. The song is the definition of maturity. That is not such a monumental feat, I mean it was 1967 after all. However, it is still an impressive accomplishment. The swirling guitars found during the bridge sections of the song only add more value to an already incredible track.
Emitt and the crew were still in that mature state of mind when they recorded “You’re A Very Lovely Woman.” An exciting showcase of Rhodes’ songwriting abilities, it will leave one gasping for breath of how intense and dark the overall sound is. The backing vocals, which are probably the best on the entire album, won’t tranquilize anyone either. One more extremely serious sounding track is “On Your Way Out.” This one vocally has more of a John Lennon influence than Paul McCartney, which makes all of The Beatles comparisons even more justified. The lyrics are extremely ominous, which adds diversity to the more cheerful oriented songs that will be mentioned. With all of these earnest sounding numbers, the band came up with some more lighthearted songs as well. Songs such as “Gonna Fight the War” and “Where Have You Been All of my Life” fill out the album nicely, giving it a charming sound that some of the more important tracks do not contain. The most impressive out of these is “We’re in Love.” It would seem that the verses could not become anymore catchier than they are already, proving once again that Emitt Rhodes has a true talent of creating masterful pop tunes.
As stated before, The Beatles must have a major impact on the group, as “Gonna Leave You Alone” is reminiscent of Rubber Soul’s closer “Run For Your Life.” This one also closes the album, and what a strong finisher it is. It makes you want to hear more from this very talented group.
Before the Merry-Go-Round disbanded in 1968, the label released a few non album singles that did not go anywhere commercially. Not being deterred, Emitt Rhodes released his self-titled debut album in 1970 with some commercial success. However, one looking for the psychedelic pop sounds of The Merry-Go-Round may or may not be surprised at the dramatic change in sound of his solo material. However, there are many fantastic songs included on these albums that make them impossible to ignore.
So, if you are interested in hearing instantly memorable songs that have a strong Beatles influence, this I=is an album to take a serious listen to. It’s one of those albums that one might wish that they had heard years ago. However, if that is the case, it will be a new experience that will bring everlasting joy…
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