Emmett Finley “Emmett Finley”

Big Potato Records, 2023

Finally, Emmett Finley’s one and only album gets a worldwide release over fifty years since it was recorded.

In 1971 Emmett Finley recorded his only album before disappearing from the music scene. Now over fifty years later, his eponymously titled album finally gets a worldwide release.

The album opens with ‘Oh So Easy’ a mid-tempo song featuring piano and electric guitar. This is followed by ‘Where He Cried’ a slow, moody ballad. The third track is the album’s piece de resistance ‘Gospel, the album’s longest track. It’s nearly eight minutes of a mini rock-opera that features a gospel trio (The Ellington Sisters), a rolling almost barrelhouse piano, a heavy rock guitar solo, a complete stop after five and a half minutes followed by an ethereal, humming choir and a long-drawn-out heavenly chord. It’s a hard act to follow and Finley does it with ‘Paula’s Song’ a dreamy, possibly autobiographical song that contains another powerful guitar solo. That’s followed by ‘On Saturday Morning’ where Finley is backed by what sounds like a treated upright piano and banjo which ends strangely as it disappears slowly into the ether.

Next is the second longest track on the album ‘Monster’ which is again a little unconventional in structure with Finley backed by drums, organ and a noodling, meandering electric guitar changing tempo and feel halfway through becoming more aggressive. The next track is ‘Without You Now’ a mid-tempo song that utilises both acoustic and slide guitars and what sounds like a harpsichord. The penultimate track is ‘Sky King’ a paean to Jimi Hendrix which was due to feature Hendrix himself on guitar but he’d flown to London before the recording session so wasn’t around. The final track is the gentle ‘My Friend’.

So, nine songs and exactly forty minutes of music from a time when things were simpler and the world was a very different place. Like a long, lost artefact discovered on an archaeological dig, Emmett Finley and his long-forgotten album has risen from the great archive where albums disappear to, often never to be heard from again. In the case of ‘Emmett Finley’ (the album) it hasn’t aged very well and the production has an old-fashioned feel – all a little thin and reedy. Another problem is that Emmett Finley (the person) doesn’t have the strongest voice in the world and it’s often low in the mix, heavily multi-tracked or drenched in reverb, so it’s not always possible to hear the lyrics.

As Finley himself said: “I may wind up a thoroughly obscure figure entirely forgotten”. With the re-release of his one and only album, he won’t be totally forgotten and the world can finally hear his music, albeit a long, long time after it was recorded.


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