The brilliance of Todd Rundgren’s career lies in its schizophrenia.
One minute he’s knocking out perfect 70s soul-pop, the next he’s a rock god. One day he’s masterminding the perfect Beatles pastiche, the day after he’s playing motorcycle guitar on Meat Loaf‘s Bat Out Of Hell.
All of which makes Rundgren arguably the perfect rock star.
A photo on the inside cover of Todd Rundgren’s third post-Nazz LP, Something/Anything? (1972), features Rundgren alone in a room packed with equipment, guitar strapped to his shoulder, arms flung wide, and hands flashing victory signs. That about sums up the album.
Rundgren produced the album, played every instrument, did all the vocals on 19 of the 25 tracks, and wrote all the songs with the exception of the two songs in a medley and Dust In The Wind.
The result was an album which stands as Rundgren’s zenith both commercially and critically and displays a mastery of different musical styles almost unparalleled in popular music.
Hello, It’s Me (one in a series of gorgeous ballads that dot Rundgren’s career) became his highest charting single, peaking at #5, and the album stayed on the charts for many months.
Todd Rundgren’s 1973 was clearly like no one else’s. He was riding high on a wave of apparently boundless talent. He had been hoping to follow up Something/Anything? with yet another double album, but the oil crisis led to a vinyl shortage.
Embracing the limitations, Rundgren took on a different project: a 19 to 24 track (depending on how you count) album called A Wizard, A True Star (1973) which, like all of his work, showcased his exceptional abilities as a vocalist and musician.
Jumping between styles and sounds, the album is hard to digest at first, but Rundgren’s straight strength is his ability to write incredible songs. In 1973 he recorded a crowd of 5,000 people in New York City for the right channel of his single Sons Of 1984. He then recorded another 1,000 in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for the left channel.