Rhino Records’ 1984 release of Nuggets Volume Four, a compilation of lesser known pop and garage rock gems, included the songs “Falling Sugar” and “All Night Long” from The Palace Guard, Emitt Rhodes’ pre-Merry-Go-Round band. The album opened with The Merry-Go-Round’s debut single “Live.” This catchy song, which reached the Top 10 in the quartet’s native Los Angeles in 1967, had been heard by members of The Bangles growing up in the area, and they included their bouncy cover on their full length album debut All Over the Place, in the same year as the Nuggets compilation. In her Goldmine September 2016 interview, The Bangles’ drummer Debbi Peterson said that she loved singing “Live” which includes Emitt’s lyrics, “You better live your life before you pass away. Don’t waste a day,” encouraging listeners to get outside, away from their rooms of “four walls.”
The flip side of the original 1967 recording of “Live” was another song from The Merry-Go-Round’s debut album called “Time Will Show the Wiser.” Emitt sang about the conflict of falling in love with his best friend’s girlfriend and the struggles of his mind and his heart. He claimed, “My morals and emotions are hard to combine” and hoped that time would point him in the right direction. The backdrop included a pair of acoustic guitars from Emitt with Gary Kato and a touch of bass from Michael Rice, while Joel Larson kept time with a pair of maracas. Vocal harmonies were another key ingredient.
Flip side: Time Will Show the Wiser
A side: Live
Top 100 debut: April 29, 1967
Peak position: 63
The second single from The Merry-Go-Round’s album was the moody “You’re a Very Lovely Woman,” supplemented by an orchestral arrangement, and spent three weeks in the Top 100 in September 1967.
The following year, a single from the group’s second album was released called “Listen, Listen!” which was an electric guitar driven number, with a sound inspired by The Beatles’ song “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” While this single failed to chart nationally, some radio stations heavily promoted the record. At WIXY 1260 in Cleveland, it reached the No. 6 position in April 1968, surrounded by Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” and The Rascals’ “A Beautiful Morning.” It also reached No. 89 for WIXY’s Top 100 Songs of 1968. By the end of the year, The Merry-Go-Round disbanded.
In January 1971, Emitt returned to the Top 100, first as the composer of Linda Ronstadt’s retitled Merry-Go-Round cover “(She’s a) Very Lovely Woman,” which reached No. 70, and second with his sole charting solo single “Fresh as a Daisy,” from Emitt’s self-titled debut album. The song was a pop number in line with what Todd Rundgren as Runt was achieving in the Top 40 at that moment with “We Got to Get You a Woman” and what The Raspberries would soon offer. The single reached No 54.
In 2016, Emitt released his first album since the early 1970s, Rainbow Ends. On July 19, he passed away at the age of 70.