Given the legend that surrounds Emitt Rhodes – he being considered a pop genius a la Alex Chilton or Harry Nilsson – one would expect THE PALACE GUARD to be a necessary addition to the psych/garage pop canon. Rhodes, after all, formed The Merry-Go-Round (“Live,” “Time Will Show the Wiser,” covered by Bangles and Fairport Convention, respectively) and went on to make an acclaimed platter eponymously titled Emitt Rhodes (1970) when that band broke up. After Rhodes’ ’73 LP, Farewell to Paradise, failed to engage the pop public, he basically bid his own farewell and ceased releasing longplayers. Eventually, in 2016, Rhodes put out a followup to Paradise, Rainbow Ends, that garnered the same kind of critical praise that his self-titled ’70 LP did. Unfortunately, Rhodes passed away last year in his sleep.
But let’s get back to this CD, All Night Long, which gathers all six of The Palace Guard’s singles. The band was formed in Hawthorne, California by brothers Don, John and David Beaudoin, bass guitarist Rick Moser and Rhodes on drums. Their half dozen singles (so make that twelve songs in total) make up their discography, and all of them are pretty hard to find. Omnivore has brought us this spiffy collection and, while it has its strong points, it’s not what I would call a must-have. Nuggets fans, West Coast pop fanatics, and those who just plain favor obscure 45s will enjoy moments of this short disc. Their second single, 1965’s “A Girl You Can Depend On,” is pretty cool, in a semi-minor-key way, and their version of “Saturday’s Child” (released about the same time as The Monkees’ superior take) is worth a few listens, but the remaining songs are fairly forgettable. If it wasn’t for the fact that Emitt Rhodes emerged from this band – in which he played drums only and hadn’t gotten to demonstrate his later legendary one-man-band talent – they’d probably be remembered by only the most knowledgeable and esoteric pop-aholics. (You know, the kind of guys that would know, for instance, that TV’s Don Grady [Robbie on My Three Sons] sang lead on their final, 1966 single “Little People”.)
The thing is, there are plenty of pop fans who will eat up this release and there’s plenty of room for The Palace Guard in their diet. There’ll always be those of us who are interested in these obscure records and will be willing to give them a spin. All Night Long – save for its liner notes, oddly narrated by bassist Moser in third-person – is worthy of a place on the Rhodes scholar’s shelf. – Marsh Gooch
2.5/5 (Omnivore Recordings OVCD-424, 2021)