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Todd Rundgren

Bearsville 6952
Released: March 1974
Chart Peak: #54
Weeks Charted: 17

Todd RundgrenAmid a growing profusion of lightweight pop practitioners, one latter-day exponent of self-conscious pop stands out on the American scene: Todd Rundgren. A gifted studio technician and producer, he is also a resourceful composer and inventive plagiarist; in many ways, Rundgren is the Seventies' journeyman pop stylist.

"I Saw the Light," "Hello, It's Me" and, from the new LP, "A Dream Goes on Forever" all show his knack for churning out whimsical but effervescent formula tunes. And his lyrical preoccupations have helped give him personal style: He has successfully nurtured a melodramatist's flair for milking adolescent romances, wallowing in self-pity.

Todd Rundgren - Todd
Original album advertising art.
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Musically, Rundgren's several solo albums have specialized in quoting the right sources, from Laura Nyro to Stevie Wonder. On both The Ballad of Todd Rundgren, a tour de force, and the more uneven Something/Anything?, he proved himself a capable composer. And although his frail, reedy voice is weak, his production skills compensate: He mixes, overdubs and sweetens tracks like a true wizard.

In recent interviews, maestro Rundgren has grandiloquently announced that his work has moved from emotion to mind: "Once I got my emotions under control, I was able to recognize spiritual influences which could raise my consciousness. I don't want to respond to coarser vibrations." Unfortunately, apart from the welter of electronic gimmickry, the casual listener might not notice the change in Todd's (spiritual) vistas.

Todd generally sticks to familiar Rundgren fare, particularly on its more successful tracks (such as the relatively concise "The Last Ride" and "Izzat Love?"), but even familiar Rundgrenesque entries suffer in comparison with earlier efforts. This may be his idea of space-age pop, or his foray into psychedelic bubblegum. Unfortunately, when self-conscious pop becomes self-indulgent, it loses its sense of balance, and becomes either boring or offensive. Todd, at various points, manages to be both.

- Jim Miller, Rolling Stone, 6-20-74.

Bonus Reviews!

There's lots of humor and strange electronic sounds roaming around on this two record set. You need to have an open mind when listening to Rundgren. For he is a bit of an avant-garde storyteller seeking to paint word pictures in lengthy phrases and poems which he sputters out ("Lord Chancellor's Nightmare Song"). Rundgren is credited with playing a number of instruments on the majority of the tunes. He uses slow tempos, lots of surrounding echo and fuzzy guitar runs on lots of tunes, so that each cut is both individual and yet combines all the commercial ingredients needed for today's market.

- Billboard, 1974.

Coming down from his inflated Wizard-True Star trip, rainbow-haired Todd concocts a double LP of surprisingly pleasuresome music that leaps from the familiar, lush Rundgren love opus sound to some delightful exercises in verbal humor and a few saucy space age antics tossed in for good measure. It's all great fun with Mr. Rundgren camping things up a bit with his ever-present sense of humor (at one point describing himself quite unflatteringly as a fellow who is "making a living off a plastic waffle") and mixing together doses of hard electric funk with interplanetary stuff.

- Ed Naha, Circus, 6/74.

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