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Thread: Todd Rundgren appreciation

  1. #1

    Todd Rundgren appreciation

    Did a search and didn't see any recent threads like this -- so I felt it might be okay to start one!

    Tonight it's the 1974 double-album Todd in all its glory. Not many artists who would release a record that could go from "A Dream Goes On Forever" to "Drunken Blue Rooster", and then to "Everybody's Going to Heaven / King Kong Reggae". Some, sure. But not many.

    It's been said before probably, but I absolutely love this guy. He is hands down my favorite single musical artist -- or at least tied evenly with Tony Banks. But they each occupy a different hemisphere of my brain. Or something like that...

    So what's your favorite Todd Rundgren song/album? Please share!

  2. #2
    While in my late teens ('89) my brother gave me a recording of a recent Todd show broadcast on the radio in Chicago. It was the Nearly Human tour and it was - if you'll allow for hyperbole -as close to a spiritual experience as music can provide. Aside from the NH material (which is still my fave Todd LP) it was the first time hearing "Love of The Common Man", "Cliche", "Secret Society", etc.

    Look up "Waiting Game" played on the Letterman Show from that era - it makes me feel old to say I don't think we'll see music like that again.

    I became a hard core convert (remember Patro Net?) and have remained one since. His studio work became hit or miss but I still buy it and listen to it quite a bit and see the shows.

    Regarding the Todd album - if you are a big fan of it I would seek out the live DVD we he plays the entire album front-to-back.

    As much as I know it shouldn't bother me it's a damn shame he didn't make the Hall of Fame this year. For no other reason, he is still working hard on the road and it would have been some nice exposure for him.

  3. #3
    Nearly Human was great! I can only imagine what it was like to have heard it back when it came out. And dude... Love Of The Common Man, Cliche, and Secret Society are great songs! And so is The Verb To Love (from also Faithful). I love them all.

    I'm 34, and didn't "discover" Todd's music until I was around 21 and picked up a copy of Something/Anything in a local Fye store because I knew "I Saw The Light". Boy, was I ever unprepared for what followed! In the past 10 years he has become my favorite; something about his voice and music just reaches into my heart like no one else.

    I just watched "The Waiting Game" video from the Letterman Show, and somehow had never seen it before. Great performance! That's actually my favorite song from Nearly Human! I play it very frequently, even to this day.

    My favorite album is probably Liars, although Something/Anything is a close 2nd.

    Also, it is a shame he didn't make it into the Rock Hall of Fame this year. He really should have more recognition IMO.

  4. #4
    Geriatric Anomaly progeezer's Avatar
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    As much as I love almost all of TR's catalog, nothing excites me to this day as much as the debut Nazz album. I saw them live in 1968 as an unannounced 4 song opening act for the Doors, who were opening for the Who, at the Singer Bowl in Queens, and I still remember that they played "Open My Eyes", "Hello It's Me", "If That's The Way You Feel" & "She's Goin' Down".

    The crowd, who didn't know them at all, were standing & screaming at the end of "Eyes". One of the most magical musical moments in my memory.
    "My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician, and to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference"

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  5. #5
    Member SunshipVoyager1976's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by progeezer View Post
    As much as I love almost all of TR's catalog, nothing excites me to this day as much as the debut Nazz album. I saw them live in 1968 as an unannounced 4 song opening act for the Doors, who were opening for the Who, at the Singer Bowl in Queens, and I still remember that they played "Open My Eyes", "Hello It's Me", "If That's The Way You Feel" & "She's Goin' Down".

    The crowd, who didn't know them at all, were standing & screaming at the end of "Eyes". One of the most magical musical moments in my memory.
    The Nazz!

    They were something else. TR is one of those once in a lifetime artists, like Zappa or Ian Anderson... totally unique synthesists and marvelous examples of the musical adventurousness of their generation.

  6. #6
    Just this week I listened to a piece I usually overlook, "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire" (from Initiation), and finally the penny dropped.

  7. #7
    I was listening to the TODD album when the planes hit the buildings on 9/11. I was painting my house listening to this when I got a shocked phone call from my parents telling me about the events.
    Strangely, there's a song on the album that tells of an angry young man that wants to blow up NYC with a bomb and that had played a few minutes before the call.

  8. #8
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    These are really great (imo). But I have difficulties connecting with the rest of his production

    A Wizard, a True Star (1973)
    Todd Rundgren's Utopia (1974)
    Another Live (1975) - except for the horrible "The Wheel"
    Ra (1977)

  9. #9
    TR's Utopia and Another Live Utopia are my favorites. Also a big fan of Ra, Todd, Healing and Second Wind, a very underrated album. I agree with the OP on Todd's diversity although it wasn't so much within any one album as across albums. He could go from pop to prog to arena rock to Broadway.

  10. #10
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    I'm a big Todd fan as well, and like most of his music, although I slacked off a bit on some of his recent-ish ones. I've never listened to "Liars!" I know, I need to. But I too love Nearly Human, and saw him on that tour in NYC, and then saw him on the Second Wind tour too. And around that time I saw the off-Broadway production of "Up Against It," which fused the unused Beatles movies script of the same name with music from these two Todd albums. Not a huge success because it just ain't the right kind of music for a musical, and the script isn't good to begin with.

    But I came out the other side with my favorite songs from these two albums being "Parallel Lines" and "Change Myself." I do also love "The Waiting Game" and "I Can't Stop Running." They're almost all good songs, and I used to listen to them a lot.

    Then when he did his "No World Order" album, which I loved, I got to meet him at an appearance at a record store, and get the album signed (as "TR-I," which is what he was calling himself for that album and tour. Todd Rundgren-Interactive, because he was touting some kind of interactive CD player thingy which went nowhere.

    BTW, aith, do you like Todd's "A Capella" album? I love that one and listened to that a lot too. I think I saw him do some numbers from that (I saw him on a couple of his recent tours too). The song "Lost Horizon" is sublime. I don't totally dig his more straight Motown songs, but I love when he channels Motown in his own more experimental, ambient way. Also, most of his big hits are my least favorite of his songs. I like when he stretches our and gets weird. "Tiny Demons" is another great song.

  11. #11
    Occipital Provocatee Plasmatopia's Avatar
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    I'd have to list TR somewhere in my top five artists of all time. I discovered him when in my early twenties and his music really spoke to me at that time. It seemed like (perhaps more than any other aspect of his music) his lyrics were my lyrics. I guess you could say he helped me form my way of looking at life for probably a good decade or so before I discovered Zappa (who in some ways seemed like the polar opposite of TR).

    If I had to pick one TR album I'd go with Initiation.
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    Something/Anything, A Wizard A True Star and Todd still strike me as his best albums, where his more excessive tendencies were largely kept in check*. But outside of that I love things such as 'The Verb To Love', 'Real Man', 'Can We Still Be Friends' etc. Can't really comment beyond isolated tracks after Hermit...

    Of the Utopia albums I've heard (which isn't all of them) my favourite is definitely the first one.

    *Fully on display with albums like Initiation and Faithful, IMHO.

  13. #13
    Member bigjohnwayne's Avatar
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    A Wizard, A True Star is one of my favorite albums.

  14. #14
    My favorite has always been Something/Anything. A remarkable 2 record set.
    "And your little sister's immaculate virginity wings away on the bony shoulders of a young horse named George who stole surreptitiously into her geography revision."

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  15. #15
    Progga mogrooves's Avatar
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    The Nazz.
    Hell, they ain't even old-timey ! - Homer Stokes

  16. #16
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Was a very, very big fan in high school and shortly after, especially of A Wizard and Todd and also the first few, proggy Utopia discs - up to Ra.

    They don’t connect with me like they used to, but I did play AWATS and Todd within the last 18 months and they remain very impressive statements of their time and technology.
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  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by progeezer View Post
    As much as I love almost all of TR's catalog, nothing excites me to this day as much as the debut Nazz album. I saw them live in 1968 as an unannounced 4 song opening act for the Doors, who were opening for the Who, at the Singer Bowl in Queens, and I still remember that they played "Open My Eyes", "Hello It's Me", "If That's The Way You Feel" & "She's Goin' Down".

    The crowd, who didn't know them at all, were standing & screaming at the end of "Eyes". One of the most magical musical moments in my memory.
    Yeah, The Nazz really was what first caught my attention. Open My Eyes, in particular, knowing only the Move's version when my friend turned me on that song. The Nazz version was pure Todd and i loved him ever since. Saw him every chance i could when i lived in L.A. in the early 70s. So good.

    My favourite album of his will always be Wizard but Todd is a close second. I also love Something/Anything. Runt's great. Hell, they all have something great on them, even Arena (the tour was fun), which has "Courage" on it. If you don't know the album Todd, definitely get it
    And the code is a play, a play is a song, a song is a film, a film is a dance...

  18. #18
    Outraged bystander markwoll's Avatar
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    I was familiar with the radio Hits from the 70's, Real Man, Hello, It's Me, I Saw The Light, etc.
    His rockier/proggy material from Utopia and Initiation were what really caught my attention.
    That wavered a bit until I happened to hear No World Order in a Kemp Mill Records store.
    I bought that and really liked it ( just the cd version, not the cd-i ).
    Saw him a couple of times in the last 15 years, missed Utopia ( dang it ).
    Very enjoyable shows.
    Bought his Complete Bearsville Albums collection ( a really good deal 13 cd's for $50 ) last year.
    I was surprised at how much I didn't like beyond the 'hits.
    Much is a bit overindulgent, you get told you are the best enough times and you can do no wrong.
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  19. #19
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    ^It's his studio indulgences where I find him at his weakest, such as the first side of Faithful. I too love all of those songs but I'm unsure why he decided to do soundalike covers of them other than showing off that he could. And I haven't braved it for many years but I also remember finding 'A Treatise On Cosmic Fire' a tough listen, from the title down! (I should note that the other sides of both these albums are excellent.)

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by progeezer View Post
    As much as I love almost all of TR's catalog, nothing excites me to this day as much as the debut Nazz album. I saw them live in 1968 as an unannounced 4 song opening act for the Doors, who were opening for the Who, at the Singer Bowl in Queens, and I still remember that they played "Open My Eyes", "Hello It's Me", "If That's The Way You Feel" & "She's Goin' Down".

    The crowd, who didn't know them at all, were standing & screaming at the end of "Eyes". One of the most magical musical moments in my memory.
    The Nazz! Oh man, that's so cool... "Open My Eyes" is a great song. Wish I could have been there.


    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    [...] I've never listened to "Liars!" I know, I need to.
    Yes you do!


    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    But I too love Nearly Human, and saw him on that tour in NYC, and then saw him on the Second Wind tour too. And around that time I saw the off-Broadway production of "Up Against It," which fused the unused Beatles movies script of the same name with music from these two Todd albums. Not a huge success because it just ain't the right kind of music for a musical, and the script isn't good to begin with.
    The Up Against It album is an odd one, but it does have a few pretty good songs on it. Very strange though. It wasn't a great foundation to build upon -- like you said, the script wasn't very good -- but I think Todd did come up with some decent tunes still.


    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    Then when he did his "No World Order" album, which I loved, I got to meet him at an appearance at a record store, and get the album signed (as "TR-I," which is what he was calling himself for that album and tour. Todd Rundgren-Interactive, because he was touting some kind of interactive CD player thingy which went nowhere.

    BTW, aith, do you like Todd's "A Capella" album? I love that one and listened to that a lot too. I think I saw him do some numbers from that (I saw him on a couple of his recent tours too). The song "Lost Horizon" is sublime. I don't totally dig his more straight Motown songs, but I love when he channels Motown in his own more experimental, ambient way. Also, most of his big hits are my least favorite of his songs. I like when he stretches our and gets weird. "Tiny Demons" is another great song.
    Man, No World Order is really pretty good! And actually The Individualist is even better, IMO. Very cool you got to meet him and get an autograph. I remembered you were a fan, based on previous discussions here.

    But I A Capella is one album I do not have -- and I need to rectify that, pronto. Not sure how I've gone all this time as a fan and not had that one.

    I also like when he goes to the more weird places on his records, even though I still enjoy a lot of his popular songs.

  21. #21
    Member MrXindeed's Avatar
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    Been a Todd fan since the 70's.
    Met him several times, he's an awesome guy that will go out of his way for his fans.
    My favorite album is the one thats playing at the time.
    His new book is awesome.
    http://amzn.com/0997205652

  22. #22
    Member Gizmotron's Avatar
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    Yes, count me in.
    Every artist is different. But the mold was broken with Todd. I enjoy most of his catalog, from all eras. For those that haven't listened to his last 4 or 5 "modern" albums I encourage you to give them a try.
    There is some fine work there.

    I find that when I listen to one of his albums i get sucked in and generally move on to 2 or three more before I know it.

    I have also visited his Tiki Bar in Kauai. It is lots of fun and I had a lovely conversation with his adopted son KK Watson.

  23. #23
    With a twist is a good introduction to the notion of rubato.

  24. #24
    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    He's one of my favorite musicians, too. That said, his latest "An Unpredictable Evening.." tour was horrible. He did a cover of Melanie's "Brand New Key" and a 2nd grade sing along that I can't even remember. It seemed like he enjoyed sticking a thumb in the eye to his fans. Wish I'd seen the Utopia reunion tour! Even though some dates seemed a bit rough, it would have been great to hear some of that stuff live after all these years.

  25. #25
    Member Gizmotron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarplyrjvb View Post
    He's one of my favorite musicians, too. That said, his latest "An Unpredictable Evening.." tour was horrible. He did a cover of Melanie's "Brand New Key" and a 2nd grade sing along that I can't even remember. It seemed like he enjoyed sticking a thumb in the eye to his fans. Wish I'd seen the Utopia reunion tour! Even though some dates seemed a bit rough, it would have been great to hear some of that stuff live after all these years.
    Ha ha. Yes, in live settings, Todd seems to delight in zigging when people expect him to zag.

    I saw him almost two years ago on the YesFestival. I enjoyed it. Great band.

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