Getting into Todd Rundgren - where to next?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by warewolf95, Nov 12, 2017.

  1. mBen989

    mBen989 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scranton, PA
    I second the Rhino box set mentioned earlier but most of Todd's catalog (as well as Utopia) shouldn't be too hard to find in good condition on vinyl should you wish to go that route.

    Be advised that Wizard, Initiation and the first Utopia album cram a lot on both sides.
     
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  2. warewolf95

    warewolf95 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yea, I've heard he's really sarcastic.
     
  3. warewolf95

    warewolf95 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Great post and thanks for the suggestions! :)

    How does Todd live compare to on the albums? Is he one of those artists that plays stuff "as it is" or does he change things up or jam or do different stuff?
     
  4. warewolf95

    warewolf95 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I've managed to, um, "find" everything up to and including POV.

    For solo Todd, I've got the HDTracks versions for Runt through Hermit From Mink Hollow.
    Then I have the Bearsville box set versions for Healing and The Ever Popular....

    For Todd/Utopia:

    Todd Rundgren's Utopia (2013 RM)
    Oops! Wrong Planet (MSFL)
    Utopia 1982 (2000 Unidisk)
    Oblivion (2011 RM)
    POV (2011 RM)

    and then I have miscellaneous versions for the rest.


    Any opinions/ideas on good versions to seek out?
     
  5. rednoise

    rednoise Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston
    Both! Usually Todd plays songs more-or-less like they were recorded, though not slavishly. But sometimes he intentionally mixes it up - for example, he released a whole album ("With a Twist") of older songs done in Brazilian bossa nova style. Or his re-arrangement of "Born to Synthesize" as a lounge jazz/blues thing.
     
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  6. telecode101

    telecode101 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    To be honest, if you are a fan of only his older work, I don't think the new stuff will sound as good to you unless/until you accept the new music on its own terms, meaning detach it from the context of what Rundgren used to make in the early 70s.
     
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  7. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    Very. But he somehow manages to be so without being cynical. I've posted it several times, but if this is the first Todd thread you've read, you might want to take the time to watch it. He was invited to speak to the graduation ceremony at the Berklee music school, and opens by questioning why he was asked:

     
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  8. rednoise

    rednoise Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston
    Todd doesn't seem to have much of a filter on his mouth, nor does he seem very concerned about other people's feelings. Kind of ironic, as many of his songs show great depths of empathy.

    It all supports my theory that most of the greatest artists are a little bit... socially broken.
     
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  9. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    Todd is, and always has been...a giant geek.

    He and his best friend in high school memorized Gilbert and Sullivan patter songs; he learned computer programming as soon as such a thing was possible because he wanted to build a robot; he wrote what was intended to be the first commercially available computer paint program (on the Apple II); he animated his own music videos.

    I know these things because I am also a huge geek. The difference is that Todd is a geek with a day job as a rock star.

    The empathy comes out in ways in addition to his songs. For instance, ten years ago, he invited fans to camp on his land in Hawaii to celebrate his 60th birthday/10th wedding anniversary.
     
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  10. rednoise

    rednoise Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston
    I do think Todd's songwriting peak has passed, but I think he now uses his music in a slightly different way than he used to. These days he seems to often write so as to comment on his current state of mind, his personal political and social POV, not necessarily so much with an eye on the universal. When he does write a more universal-type song, you really know it ("Courage", from the Arena album for example).

    A recent concert a attended made his past few album clearer to me. His latest ones have a couple of songs I really love, and others that seemed to me to be kinda disposable. They're kind of scattered. But this show included a bunch of recent songs that I felt together add up to a pretty coherent modern statement of purpose.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
  11. warewolf95

    warewolf95 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yea, he doesn't seem like a pretentious stuck-up guy or anything. That's cool. :)
    I read about an interactive album/tour he did in the 90's. He brought fans on stage and stuff.
     
  12. warewolf95

    warewolf95 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    That was a great listen. Thanks for sharing that. :)

    In the sidebar someone made a 4 hour fan documentary about Todd.

    TODD - (A Todd Rundgren Documentary By JSK) Part 1/4

    Holy hell
     
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  13. rednoise

    rednoise Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston
    Yes, the "Todd Pod" show, in support of his album "No World Order", which, in addition to being a conventional audio album, was released as a computer program that allowed the listener to interactively alter the mood of the music. I saw that show in Boston. It was in a theater in the round, with his set in the middle, Todd playing solo, controlling all the instruments and lights. There were drum stations around the perimeter of the set, and the audience was invited to drum along at certain points. and an audience member was invited to play a guitar solo. I understand that the show's presentation was rife with technical problems, but the show I saw went off without a hitch.

    Todd's stage shows usually have a grand concept about them. He's not much interested in doing the same thing twice.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
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  14. DirkM

    DirkM Member

    Location:
    MA, USA
    A few random thoughts:

    - The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect has a terrible reputation, but it's actually a pretty solid album, all things considered. The big "hit" is terrible...but then, that's the case with Hermit as well.

    - I'm a pop kid at heart, and so 99% of my favourite songs/albums were love at first listen. A Wizard, A True star is part of the 1%. When I first heard it, I liked maybe two or three songs. Now I love the entire thing (well, I usually skip the soul medley, but I understand why it's there). In any case, I guess the point I'm getting at is...if there's a grower album out there, AWATS is it.

    - As has been mentioned here, early Todd was heavily influenced by Laura Nyro. I actually became a huge Nyro fan because Todd's "Baby Let's Swing" medley led me to her. In a very real sense, Todd's early work picks up where Nyro left off when she went into her first period of "retirement." The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren is the great Laura Nyro album that never was...and Christmas & The Beads Of Sweat is the great Todd Rundgren album that never was.

    - The liner notes to Something/Anything? never fail to crack me up.

    - The Range War is quite possibly the strangest song I've ever heard, emotionally speaking. I always get the feeling that it's a send-up, but I also get a feeling of profound melancholy whenever I hear it.

    - As tempting as it may be, you can't improve Todd's albums by removing the joke songs. Even when they ruin the mood (particularly on Healing), they're still an integral part of the whole experience. If that doesn't make sense to you, then you need to spend more time with Something/Anything?

    - Todd's cover of Two Little Hitlers is a surprise highlight in his discography. It shouldn't work, but it does.

    - There are a handful of truly perfect singles, A- and B-sides. Time Heals/Tiny Demons is one of them.

    - Wailing Wall is quite possibly the most harmonically perfect song ever written.
     
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  15. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    It seems that he starts with a concept for an album, then writes songs to fit that, so that would account for how some seem forced. Of his latter albums, State seemed to have a few like that - good turns of phrase and melodic ideas in a song with a flawed concept - like Ping Me - some excellent verses with a chorus that was dated before it was released.

    The No World Order tour. It was NUTS. But there seems to be a fundamental problem with trying to stage a rave for a bunch of fifty year olds.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
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  16. jwb1231970

    jwb1231970 Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I may disagree with you on the cynical part, I love his music but Im sometimes turned off by his implied put downs of Christian faith, no need to go there, Todd.
     
  17. jwb1231970

    jwb1231970 Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Cliche is in my top 10 all time favorites
     
  18. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    Put it this way - I seem to be the biggest Todd fan here by popular acclaim ... and I'VE never watched the whole thing! I've been tempted to download it and wrangle it into a more reasonable 90 minutes, but I suspect I'd wind up with a mortal enemy. People who make four hour documentaries are not to be trifled with.
     
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  19. strummer101

    strummer101 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lakewood OH
    I watched the entire documentary. It's actually not too bad.
     
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  20. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    What do you think of Healing? One interpretation I've heard is it is about how a messiah would be treated if he showed up today. Feel free to ignore this question if it is offensive to you.
     
  21. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maine
    A Capella is great...Todd simulates all the instruments with his voice, and sings all the parts. quite amazing. not dated at all.

    Hermit From Mink Hollow is a fave. As well as Runt. Healing has some great tracks...have a listen to "Compassion".

     
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  22. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    As the great editor Thelma Schoonmacher said "You have to be prepared to kill your children." You wind up with four hours if you can't make those sacrifices.
     
  23. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maine

    From Hermit...
     
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  24. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maine
    a dream goes on forever...so amazing. From Todd.

     
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  25. warewolf95

    warewolf95 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I' 15 minutes in and I'm really impressed by it. :)
     
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