Emitt Rhodes: S/T (1970)

While highly regarded in power pop circles, Emitt Rhodes is largely relegated to remaining one of the great lost pop singers of the early 70s.  Rhodes started out fronting the Merry-Go-Round, a great late 60s band best known for their Nuggets-era pop hit "Live" (later well-covered by the Bangles), though they had a wealth of wonderful, underappreciated tunes. But his solo work is particularly great -- pretty, Beatlesque tunes falling somewhere between late 60s sunshine pop and early 70s singer-songwriter material.
Paul McCartney is the most obvious touchpoint, both musically and vocally. And specifically Paul's more whimsical, piano-driven side -- Beatles fans who enjoy songs like "Martha My Dear" and "When I'm 64" and "Honey Pie" (as well as Paul's first solo album, released the same year as this) will hear traces of those here, as well as a healthy dose of Nilsson and Badfinger.

His self-titled debut is low-key, unassuming, and entirely charming. "With My Face On The Floor" is a perky little treat, rousing and whimsical. "Somebody Made For Me" is a sweet, guileless love song, pure McCartney in its melodic twists.  "Long Time No See" adds some psychedelic guitar jabs, bringing to mind some of Badfinger's work. "Live Till You Die" is a pretty mid-tempo rocker in a Nilsson vein. "You Take The Dark Out Of The Night" brings an old-time vibe, shades of the White Album's "Don't Pass Me By." But really, it's an infectious delight from start to finish.

Rhodes released two more comparable albums before essentially disappearing for decades. These three albums, as well as an additional album of early material recorded during his Merry-Go-Round days, are collected on a single package, The Emitt Rhodes Recordings 1969-1973, and it's a must-have for fans of early 70s pop.

Rhodes emerged from the shadows in 2016 with a new album, Rainbow Ends, and despite a slightly more grizzled voice (and a cover photo that came as a shock to anyone who had the baby-faced 1970-era Rhodes etched in memory), it's surprisingly fantastic, maintaining the same Beatlesque pop vibe yet feeling totally out of time, with some folk and Americana shadings. 

Here's an audio rip of "With My Face On The Floor":
...and an audio rip of "Long Time No See":
Here's a rare live appearance, with Rhodes performing "Live Till You Die" in 1997: