Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Listening Post


I've copped to my love for Rush, Billy Joel, Genesis, movie scores and various relics of 80s synth-pop, now it's time for me to just come right out and say, without shame, that I think Todd Rundgren is a goddamned musical genius.

If you know anything about Rundgren, this isn't much of a bold statement to make. But if you're not really into him -- or, perish the thought, have no idea who I'm even talking about -- admitting your appreciation of him pretty much tells everyone that you were one of those people who thought Alan Alda was the sexiest man alive back in the 70s. That's because Todd Rundgren is a sensitive, thinking man's rock star -- the original emo god.

Throughout his career -- which has spanned four decades -- he's released some of the most enduring yet strangely underrated pop and blue-eyed soul music in the business. He's always been on the cutting edge of experimenting with new sounds and new technology and even when he wasn't recording his own albums, he was writing or producing for others (The Tubes, XTC, Bad Religion, The Psychedelic Furs); he's been the guy behind the guy (or the girl, or the band) on dozens of hit songs and albums, and he's been a major influence on everyone from Matthew Sweet to Trent Reznor.

He's been mentioned on 30 Rock and, dubiously, was Mark David Chapman's second biggest musical obsession.

Bottom line: Rundgren rules.

No, I won't put up Bang the Drum All Day, but here now are three of my favorites from Todd Rundgren.

First, from 1982's The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect, it's Hideaway.



Next, a classic that I think is one of the best pop songs ever recorded: Hello It's Me.



And finally, from Rundgren's band Utopia (who were also brilliant, first album to last), here's Crybaby.

17 comments:

Donal said...

Tortured Artist Effect is one of my favorite albums. I like evry cut.

Crybaby looks straight out of Zardoz.

Stephen said...

Leroy boy, is that you????

thank you for this...I blasted Couldn't I Just Tell You for my 16 month old yesterday. She liked the guitar riff.

brite said...

Thank you Chez...'Hello It's Me' is one of those songs that is a piece of bittersweet candy for me. Also, I might add, Todd Rundgren is a pretty good guy all round...he raised Liv Tyler while Steven Tyler was out snorting coke and fucking 15 year old groupies.

Anonymous said...

At this rate, next you're going to tell us you're a closet Phil Collins fan...

FYi Rundgren was on letterman last night. I'm sure they'll have a clip up eventually.

Also Todd was one of the early users of the NewTek Video Toaster which he used to create this video for the song Change Myself

Your pal
Sussudio

kanye said...

Produced The Pursuit of Happiness' first album, Love Junk. Minor pop masterpiece.

Chez said...

Wow. A TPOH fan. Loved them.

Mart said...

Back in the early 80's I went to a White Sox game with a group of co-workers and a former worker joined the group. She was pretty hot looking. Right off she told me how much I looked like Todd and how dreamy Todd was. By the time we were at the bar after the game she started telling me how much she wanted to fu/ hop in the sack with me. It was good for my ego (my experience is guys who look like Todd don't get hit on by hot looking women); but my fantasy was cut short when my recent bride for some odd reason took offense and beat her up in the bathroom. Had to bang on the drum by myself that night.

Fun times.

Deacon Blue said...

My college roommate, who also thought Rundgren was a genius (and more or less convinced me as well on that point), tended to like to refer to him as "Rodd Rungren," using Scooby Doo's voice.

To this day, I cannot see or hear the man's name without Shaggy and Scooby entering the mental picture.

And I'm not sure that's a bad thing, either.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who Todd Rundgren is.

Sorry. =/

kanye said...

I saw TPOH twice in the late '80s: once on their own; the other time they, along with Smashing Pumpkins opened for Jane's Addiction. There were maybe 500 people in the room and tickets cost three bucks.

Anonymous said...

I saw Rundgren in 1985 in a small theater in Dallas - he was on his A Capella tour. Nothing on stage but a piano and 14 microphones. A dozen-plus-two members of humanity of every shape, color, gender and size sauntered up to the mics and for 90 minutes blew my fucking mind. Bought the album, which wasn't as good as the concert, but for the 80s this was some pretty out-there stuff. Johnee Jingo, Hodja are two good ones. There's a big difference between artists and performers - Rundgren may have hit the pop charts on occasion but he's definitely among the former.

Anonymous said...

rundgren went to my high school, Upper Darby, PA. He never made it on the wall of fame, because I think he didnt graduate (fellow alum Jim Croce was on there)
I missed the 30 rock reference, was it a coincidence? Tina Fey graduated from Upper Darby as well.

radioclash said...

Chez, thanks for including the props due Todd. But Rush!!?? WTF?
Can We Still Be Friends is the perfect campanion to Hello

Yes, that was me who left the "Todd is God" graffito at the Joyous Lake back in the day. I did my LP shopping/lifting at the local Sears back then and spotted Todd in the record section. With my eyes planted firmly on him I asked loudly, "where the hell are the Rundgren albums?" and got a great look of surprise and satisfaction.

Blue88 said...

I have always thought that Rundgren was way ahead of the curve. Kind of like Bowie, he would taste the future and then go with it. Hello, It's Me is one of my favs. I remember buying Tiny Demons simply because his name was on it. Technopop before it may have even had a name. It came with a 45 single. I wish I still had that album. I wish I still had a record player.

Blue88 said...

Oh yeah, I always considered We Got To Get You A Woman (not sure if that is the title) the anthem of my youth. Sometimes I feel I have just lived too long.

Blue88 said...

I was so wrong. The album was called Healing. Sorry

Anonymous said...

Who can listen to "The Light in Your Eyes" and not feel that little thrill and surprise you get when you realize a friend might be something much more?