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Thread: Todd Rundgren

  1. #1
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    Todd Rundgren

    Not sure which board this guy belongs in but if you ask "is it prog?" well, he's definitely got a progressive mindset.

    I've been obsessed with the run of Todds from The Ballad of Todd to Todd, plus the first Utopia album ("The Ikon" is so incredible; reminds me an awful lot of "Tarkus" but with Todd's excellent balladeering instead). I've just now heard Initiation and haven't been able to piece heads or tails out of it. I love both the ballads he does ("Boat on the Charles" is one of the most beautiful songs ever written if you ask me) and the crazy freakout stuff like the first side of A Wizard, A True Star (which makes my top 20 list). Is it worth getting his stuff in order or did he kind of blow up from there?
    Last edited by JAMOOL; 11-30-2012 at 01:06 PM.

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    Member ItalProgRules's Avatar
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    I'm bipolar on Rundgren. The debut album by UTOPIA is a desert-island disc for me. One of my all-time Top 10 Prog albums (and yeah, that one's PROG!) I love that first UTOPIA album more than I can put into words. It's been part of my musical DNA since I bought the vinyl for fifty cents at a garage sale when I was about 16 years old.

    After that, diminishing returns for me on the UTOPIA stuff. I like about half each of ANOTHER LIVE, RA and OOPS, WRONG PLANET.

    As for his solo stuff, it just has never worked for me. I like Side 1 of AWaTS a whole lot, but once the ENDLESS soul medley crap starts up, I want to tear my ears off. I know the album is tremendously popular here, so I am in the minority. Most white singers cannot pull off soul. There are exceptions. Todd ain't one of the exceptions.

    I used to have SOMETHING/ANYTHING and was appalled at how damn lazy he was. At least half the album is lazy filler. Crap he recorded in high school, more damn soul crap, half-finished songs with no melodies...

    But just for making the UTOPIA album, I gotta love him.
    High Vibration Go On - R.I.P. Chris Squire

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    Moderator Sean's Avatar
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    For the prog itch it sounds like you have some of the best (first Utopia, Wizard). I highly suggest Another Live and the double album simply called "Todd". The Ra album is his last stop in prog land and suggested as well. For pop you have some great stuff on Ballad. Something/Anything is of course a must in that department too. Next stop for pop? The Hermit of Mink Hollow followed by Tortured Artist Effect. As for Initiation. Concentrate on side 1 first. Don't even "turn it over" until it soaks in. The title track is amazing and very powerful.

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    I have to disagree on the soul medley. It's definitely the "straight" moment on the disc but all those songs are classics and Todd does 'em as well as anybody. I do agree on S/A however, for all the talk of it being a classic I find The Ballad of Todd Rundgren to be much more consistant; about half of S/A is excellent but there are too many lame ballads like "Marlene". I prefer the album Todd, though it is kind of the same deal. I'll have to spin Initiation some more. The 36-minute finale didn't really scare me too much though I couldn't make heads or tails of it outside of the real freaky sequencer parts which I thought were neat. I guess at this point Todd didn't have anything left to prove so he just did whatever pleased him?

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    Moderator Sean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JAMOOL View Post
    The 36-minute finale didn't really scare me too much though I couldn't make heads or tails of it outside of the real freaky sequencer parts which I thought were neat. I guess at this point Todd didn't have anything left to prove so he just did whatever pleased him?
    It's just a synth freak out. It's a test of patience, though some folks like it. Todd was beyond worrying about proving anything at that point. He's a guy that seemed to deliberateley sabotage his career at every turn by doing what he pleased instead of looking at the previous album's success and trying to do more of the same. Had he done that after Something/Anything he could have been a household name, but he had other plans and I am glad he did.

    Give Marlene some time, it's a beatiful little tune....

  6. #6
    AWaTS is an amazingly creative piece of work whose overall influence on the development of "art rock" has yet to be fully understood - IMO.

    I like the first two Utopia albums and two or three of his 70s solo records well enough, but besides the above mentioned title my fave Todd actually came with The Nazz - and their second release in particular.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean View Post
    Next stop for pop? The Hermit of Mink Hollow followed by Tortured Artist Effect.
    I find both of those very mediocre. Faithful is far superior, at least the side of originals. The album got its title from side one, which was a masturbatory effort to use studio trickery to doctor covers of 60s classics to make them sound as much like the originals as possible using 70s studio technology. I have to admit, the last time the version of “Good Vibrations” came up randomly on my MP3 player, it was roughly of the way through before I realized it was not the Beach Boys version! Still, what was the point? (Not to mention, his Dylan impression on “Most Likely...” is completely embarrassing!)

    Most underrated album: Nearly Human. Yes, the keyboards are gallingly 80s but the naturalistic arrangements elsewhere (Todd’s rebellious maximalist answer to “workstation-plus-drum-machine” pop music proliferating at the time) suit the songs to a T, all of which are beautiful (I always skip the bonus CD track, “Two Little Hitlers,” though; it was not on my original vinyl LP and IMO sticks out like a sore thumb). “Hawking” never fails to put a lump in my throat.

    Runt is essential if you’ve got the others. You may as well go for the current 2-on-1 release with the gorgeous Ballad, as it restores tracks from the rare original vinyl pressing. That leaves A’Cappella, an interesting gimmick and some good pop songs therein, but like Hermit and Tortured, there’s a lot of half-assed filler songs.

    Exercise caution from then on. No World Order is rife with techno and rap influence, which bleeds over to The Individualist. I fell out with Todd after the kitschy With a Twist and the whole gimmicky Patronet thing.

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    MIKE (a.k.a. "Progbear")

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    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    Still, what was the point?
    I think this is just a Todd thing. He wants to do it just to see if he could do it. I've heard of the album but wasn't aware there were originals on the flip side!

    I do have Runt, wasn't really a fan of that one outside of "I'm in the Clique" and of course "We Gotta Get You a Woman". I've heard really good things about Liars but the 70-minute runtime puts me off. That said Initation was about the same length wasn't it? How the hell did he fit that all on one vinyl and still make it sound alright? (it's 67 minutes if I'm counting right) Once again that's an album I'll need some time with. What bothered me more than the B-side was "Eastern Intrigue" which felt possibly racist and was kind of unsettling. Then again I guess you really never know with this guy.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by JAMOOL View Post
    That said Initation was about the same length wasn't it? How the hell did he fit that all on one vinyl and still make it sound alright? (it's 67 minutes if I'm counting right)
    You just answered your own question. Initiation sounded dreadful on vinyl: low gain, no bottom end, pops and clicks (unavoidable considering the extremely squashed groove, especially on side 2) were louder than the music.

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    MIKE (a.k.a. "Progbear")

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    N.P.:“Katakomben”-Between/Einstieg

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    Moderator Sean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    I find both of those very mediocre. Faithful is far superior, at least the side of originals.
    I do not agree on any level. The tunes on Faithful are pretty boring, save for Verb To Love which is lush and romantic. There may be a bit of filler on Mink and Artist but it's joyous, delicous filler all the same. And the great songs outshine anything on Faithless. Another one worth getting is Healing. I forgot to mention that....

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    Member OptiquesJeff's Avatar
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    Try giving HEALING a spin.
    There is no such thing as a stupid question. There are, however, a lot of inquisitive idiots.

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    hermit of mink hollow is very good , sort of more pop rock todd stuff but killer none the less

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    Moderator Sean's Avatar
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    Woah! Just ran across this Utopia tune all done up with the orchestra. This is a great one from Another Live. This is right up there with the stuff on the first Utopia album.


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    Another vote here for Healing. I really enjoyed the show I saw a couple of years ago of Todd/Healing. Todds Utopia-Another Live is excellent, and I really like Liars from his more recent albums. And seeing him live is always worth it, I have seen him 6 or 7 times and it has always been great.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    I find both of those very mediocre. Faithful is far superior, at least the side of originals. The album got its title from side one, which was a masturbatory effort to use studio trickery to doctor covers of 60s classics to make them sound as much like the originals as possible using 70s studio technology. I have to admit, the last time the version of “Good Vibrations” came up randomly on my MP3 player, it was roughly of the way through before I realized it was not the Beach Boys version! Still, what was the point? (
    The point was to celebrate his 10th year of recording-- the first side was what you'd hear if you turned on the radio (apparently a really good station) in 1966. The second side was new stuff in that tradition. (or so he's explained it).

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    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    I love Todd and most of his work (I even saw Up Against It!) but I agree on the soul medley. It's like his version of the Yes solo spots - enough!

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    Chronic Overspender zombywoof's Avatar
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    Sean showed me some Utopia the other day and I rather enjoyed it. I hope to pick it up soon.
    Check out Colouratura's sophomore release Unfamiliar Skies - out this spring on Melodic Revolution Records!

    colouratura.bandcamp.com

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    Wow, great vid of 7th Ray..I too saw him with an orchestra but this was omitted from his set.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    I love Todd and most of his work (I even saw Up Against It!) but I agree on the soul medley. It's like his version of the Yes solo spots - enough!
    Wow! "Up Against It" is actually one of my favorite things he's ever done. Never got to see it, but I have an audience recording of one of the performances.

  20. #20
    Progga mogrooves's Avatar
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    I've never heard his "Prog" stuff, but The Nazz were criminally underrated.....
    Hell, they ain't even old-timey ! - Homer Stokes

  21. #21
    For pop HERMIT OF MINK HOLLOW, TORTURED ARTIST EFFECT, SECOND WIND are damn good

    Borderline prog favs are HEALING & INITIATION

    Newer stuff: LIARS, and if you can deal with rap/spoken word I really still love NO WORLD ORDER

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by JAMOOL View Post
    ... What bothered me more than the B-side was "Eastern Intrigue" which felt possibly racist and was kind of unsettling. Then again I guess you really never know with this guy.
    Wow -- what a statement.
    please elaborate. Are you saying "you never really know" - -that Todd is/was possibly racist?

    And what strikes you as racist about "EI" ? Interesting. It's getting impossible to mention any race or culture besides your own and not be under suspicion of racism. Even 37 years later.....

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    Member MR654's Avatar
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    Todd is probably the only artist my wife and I totally agree on. We stopped counting after we saw him live over 40 times, solo, band etc. Met him several times and he is truly a cordial artist. In our house, " Todd is Godd". Period, end of story. Some pop, some Prog but always a visionary.
    Hey cool, my CD player has a button labeled "Prog".

  24. #24
    meimjustalawnmower
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    Quote Originally Posted by MR654 View Post
    We stopped counting after we saw him live over 40 times, solo, band etc. Met him several times and he is truly a cordial artist. In our house, " Todd is Godd". Period, end of story. Some pop, some Prog but always a visionary.
    Wow. I loves me some Todd, but jeez! 40 times? Really?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andre C View Post
    Wow -- what a statement.
    please elaborate. Are you saying "you never really know" - -that Todd is/was possibly racist?

    And what strikes you as racist about "EI" ? Interesting. It's getting impossible to mention any race or culture besides your own and not be under suspicion of racism. Even 37 years later.....
    The lyric "and a dash of the old Kung Fu" with a faux-Asian accent was the real "what the hell?" moment on that song. I really don't want to derail this thread, just saying that *for me* that was kind of unsettling.

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