The tracks on this two-disc compilation are taken from the multi-instrumentalist, seminal years: 1970-1981. Diverse and eclectic, this is a companion piece to Ballads, although still something of an introductory odyssey, recommended for anyone looking to begin exploring the delights of Todd Rundgren.
- Broke Down and Busted (Runt)
- Believe in Me (Runt)
- Long Flowing Robe (Ballad)
- Bleeding (Ballad)
- Wailing Wall (Ballad)
- The Range War (Ballad)
- A Long Time, A Long Way to Go (Ballad)
- Be Nice to Me (Ballad)
- Parole (Ballad)
- I Saw the Light (Something/Anything)
- It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference (Something/Anything)
- Black Maria (Something/Anything)
- Couldn’t I Just Tell You (Something/Anything)
- Hello It’s Me (Something/Anything)
- Zen Archer (Wizard)
- Does Anybody Love You (Wizard)
- Sometimes I Don’t Know What to Feel (Wizard)
- Just One Victory (Wizard)
- A Dream Goes on Forever (Todd)
- The Last Ride (Todd)
- No. 1 Lowest Common Denominator (Todd)
- Useless Begging (Todd)
- Sidewalk Cafe (Todd)
- Izzat Love? (Todd)
- Heavy Metal Kids (Todd)
- Black and White (Faithful)
- Love of the Common Man (Faithful)
- Cliche (Faithful)
- The Verb to Love (Faithful)
- Love is the Answer (Oops! Wrong Plant)
- Love in Action (Oops! Wrong Plant)
- All the Children Sing (Hermit)
- Can We Still Be Friends (Hermit)
- Too Far Gone (Hermit)
- I Just Want to Touch You (Deface the Music)
- Healer (Healing)
Todd’s first solo album post-Nazz. Strong rock and roll record. A Bearsville vanity project for whom he was working as a young hot producer/engineer at the time (eg: The Band’s Stage Fright). This albums also features Tony and Hunt Sales and The Band’s Rick Danko and Levon Helm.
Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren (1971)
Todd’s second solo album is up there with the likes of Hunky Dory as far as piano-based singer-songwriter albums go. A masterpiece of a record. Ridiculously underrated these days, it contains beautiful dense ballads, a few hard rockers and superlative songwriting and musicianship everywhere. In short a stunner. Musicians include Jerry Scheff (The Doors) on bass.
Expansive and adventurous, this double album is essential to any record collection. Todd plays everything on 3 sides, and includes an in-studio live session on side 4. In Todd’s words: ‘a bouquet of ear-catching melodies’, this album finds our hero moving away from the ballad approach, becoming more diverse and experimental.
A Wizard A True Star (1973)
A glorious and eclectic mess: sonic collages, soul medleys and effortless pop songsmithery. This cartoony dream of an album sounds bewildering and bonkers at first, however rewards heartily with repeated listens. Shedding his pop star image at the time, Wizard defies genre classification. Time has been kind to this record, and is now considered his masterwork.
A personal favourite. Another double album, Todd has some career-high peaks but also some really far out weird stuff too. Touching on progressive rock, long spacey instrumentals, and even a Gilbert and Sullivan tune. Side 3 of Todd is one of the greatest sides of music of all time.
Around this time he forms prog rock band Utopia, who are yet to do much for me aside from some individual tracks (see below). That’s for another compilation one day. Also solo album Initiation (1975) fails to set my world on fire. Avoid.
Side A exact replicas of well known songs (Todd covers Strawberry Fields, Good Vibrations, Rain among others). It is rather mind boggling and very very clever from this gifted musician, arranger and producer. Side B is some of the best and most essential Todd materiel ever.
Oops! Wrong Planet (1977)
Utopia LP, a good underrated album. A little more conventional than previous releases.
Hermit of Mink Hollow (1978)
Something of a comeback solo album for Todd after Utopia ran itself into the ground. Again Todd resumes playing everything on this album. A stylistically complex and forward thinking album. A very consistent listen, signs of experimenting with synthesizers (remember them?) which he would, for better or for worse, explore fully later. It is also in my opinion the last really essential studio LP Todd released, until…..
The double live album Back to the Bars (1978) is absolutely essential. There is nothing here from this absolute riot of a record, more recommended once you are familiar with this compilation and/or albums, then you can sing along with every single awesome song. A great live 70s record.
Deface the Music – 1980
A fun Utopia record. All tracks executed in early-60s Beatles style. Very cool idea and ultimately perfected.
Todd plays everything here, his ‘gospel’ album and unlike anything else in his catalogue. Once again find our hero fearlessly exploring new terrain. We only dip our toe in here with the title track.