Posts Tagged ‘Todd Rundgren’

Cause I Sez So

American standard-bearers for glam rock and important precursors to punk rock, The New York Dolls reunited (at the personal request of longtime fan Morrissey) nearly three decades after their early-1970s heyday. Original Dolls David Johansen and Syl Sylvain still have all the sass and swagger of their prime on “Cause I Sez So”. Todd Rundgren had helmed the band’s debut and returns in the same capacity for this 2009 Atco album, helping the quintet push its sonic envelope a bit beyond the Stonesy racket of yore.

The reconstituted New York Dolls stack up awfully well against the original Seventies band, whose glam rock inspired thousands of acts. This Todd Rundgren-produced follow-up to the Dolls‘ fine 2006 comeback features new moves like reggae and Latin-tinged balladry. But the selling points are its Stones-y propulsion and the nuanced vigor of David Johansen. The singer delivers singalong choruses in his New Yawk bark, sweetly praises a lover who “treats [him] like a maharajah” and, on the funked-out “Let’s Get Radiant,” delivers the perfect middle-aged-rocker line: “If we don’t come back, call us on the Ouija board.”

A reggae-tinged reworking of their ’70s classic “Trash” may be the most striking example of this, but the beautiful pop melody of “Lonely So Long” and the propulsive R&B of “Nobody Got No Bizness” show the Dolls can wear any style and make it look great.

So give “Cause I Sez So” another spin in memory of the band’s drummer Jerry Nolan, who passed away on this day in 1992.



The Lemon Twigs‘ most ambitious project yet, Go To School is a concept album about a chimpanzee named Shane who is adopted by childless aspiring musicians and raised as a human. Written, Recorded, Produced and Mixed By Brian and Michael D’Addario in their Long Island home studio, the album features Todd Rundgren and their mother Susan Hall’s vocals as Shane’s adopted parents, as well as Jody Stephens of Big Star on drums, Natalie Mering of Weyes Blood providing backing vocals and a host of string and horn players, some of which taught the Brian and Michael in school.

The Lemon Twigs new album is their most ambitious project to date: their second album, Go To School , released on 24th August 2018 .  A musical conceived by brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario, the 15-track opus was written, recorded, produced and mixed by the pair at their home in Long Island.

Go To School tells the heartbreaking coming-of-age story of Shane, a pure of heart chimpanzee raised as a human boy as he comes to terms with the obstacles of life.  Todd Rundgren and the D’Addario’s mother Susan Hall play Shane’s parents.  The album features contributions from Jody Stephens (Big Star) and their father Ronnie D’Addario.  The album drops on August 24th, and follows the breakout success of their technicolour debut full length ‘Do Hollywood’.

The album is dazzling in its ambition, not least because the Lemon Twigs are in earnest. Go to School seems at first to have a lot in common with the music of Sparks, which features another pair of brothers. Ron and Russell Mael also have a theatrical streak and an impressive command of musical sounds and styles, along with a propensity for sardonic lyrics and a deadpan delivery. The D’Addarios, by contrast, seem genuinely interested in sussing out the motives of their characters, and they work to make them more than caricatures. That is, for an operetta where no one questions why the protagonist is a chimpanzee passing for human and attending high school. Anyway, the bully, Shane, his parents: they’re complicated people, and the D’Addarios are sympathetic storytellers. True, it’s a batshit crazy story, but the Lemon Twigs make it compelling, highly tuneful and undoubtedly more memorable than an album of indie-pop songs would have been

The material will be previewed at a select batch of fan only shows, Referring to the contents of the record Brian and Michael D’Addario hint: “Something now, then, big, small, bleak, and hopeful. All in under an hour.”

‘If You Give Enough’ from The Lemon Twigs‘ new album, ‘Go To School’, out on 24th August.

Todd Rundgren was among one of the first artists I discovered through my best friend who adored the Nazz. Todd was weird, smart and very talented, In his press he came off like a wunderkind he wrote the songs and played all of the instruments himself and he was always pictured with hot models. Todd Rundgren’s albums were among the first records I bought. Both Something/Anything and Todd were long double albums that sold for the same price as a single LP, Something/Anything the fourth album by the American musician was released on March 2nd, 1973. Its music was a significant departure from his previous album Something/Anything? (1972), which consisted largely of straightforward ballads. He attributed the idiosyncratic sound of A Wizard, a True Star to his experimentation with psychedelic drugs, and said that he “became more aware … [o]f what music and sound were like in my internal environment, and how different that was from the music I had been making up to that point in time.

The album that I bought on the day of release was A Wizard, A True Star. I can remember reading a scathingly negative review of that album when it came out. Recently I noticed that Analog Spark had released audiophile SACDs of Wizard and the earlier Something/Anything.

Several of Todd Rundgren’s classic 70s albums were known to sound a bit tinny due to the narrower vinyl grooves resulting from trying to cram so much music on each side. It was something you were even warned about via a “Technical Note” included on the inner sleeve of 1975’s Initiation:

“Due to the amount of music on this disc (over one hour), two points must be emphasized. Firstly, if your needle is worn or damaged, it will ruin the disc immediately. Secondly, if the sound does seem not loud enough on your system, try re-recording the music onto tape. By the way, thanks for buying the album.”

The new Analog Spark SACD of Something/Anything (mastered like Wizard by Kevin Gray from the original master tapes) It does in fact sound much better than I recall the original LP sounding A Wizard, A True Star?  floated effortlessly into my list of favorite albums as I listened to it again.  I blasted at an ear-splitting volume on my stereo. Seriously, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever heard not just recently, but ever—and started me off on a whole new experience of Todd Rundgren listening. If you are “looking for something new to listen to,” like I was, look no further.

But just don’t take my word for it, here’s what none other than the great Patti Smith wrote of A Wizard, A True Star :

“Side one is double dose. It takes the bull by the brain. Another point to be examined. He’s always been eclectic. Why didn’t he care? The evidence is here. Something very magical is happening. The man is magi chef. His influences are homogenizing. Like a coat of many colors. May be someone else’s paintbox but the coat is all his.”

“Each album he vomits like a diary. Each page closer to the stars. Process is the point. A kaleidoscoping view. Blasphemy even the gods smile on. Rock and roll for the skull. A very noble concept. Past present and tomorrow in one glance. Understanding through musical sensation. Todd Rundgren is preparing us for a generation of frenzied children who will dream in animation. “

I read that despite having absolutely no idea of what she intended to convey with all of those words, even if I do wholeheartedly agree with her. Had I read Patti’s review back then, I’d have no doubt rushed out and grabbed this album.

Just listen to A Wizard, A True Star for yourself and turn it up LOUD please:

thanks to dangerousminds

The band Utopia are releasing a 7-CD box set from Todd Rundgren’s progressive band.  The April 20th release of The Road to Utopia: The Complete Recordings 1974-1982 will coincide with the long-awaited reunion tour of Rundgren, Kasim Sulton (who toured with his own iteration of Utopia earlier this year), Willie Wilcox, and Ralph Schuckett which kicks off this April and runs through June.

The new box set will trace Utopia’s evolution from its 1974 debut album – featuring the Mark II line-up (Mk. I was a short-lived touring unit) of Kevin Ellman (drums), Moogy Klingman (keyboards), Jean-Yves “M. Frog” Labat (synthesizers), Ralph Schuckett (keyboards) and John Siegler (bass/cello) – through 1982’s Swing to the Right, the fifth and final album from the “classic” line-up of Rundgren, Roger Powell, Wilcox, and Sulton.  Across seven albums, all of which have been expanded with bonus tracks, the band synthesized influences as disparate as prog rock, jazz fusion, pop, new wave, and even The British Invasion.  From the 30-minute opus “The Ikon” to the pop classic “Love is the Answer” and the spot-on, slightly naughty Beatles pastiche “I Just Want to Touch You,” Rundgren’s Utopia refused to be musically pigeonholed.

The box set has all six of the band’s studio and sole live albums as originally released between 1974 and 1982 newly remastered by the label’s Joe Reagoso from the Warner/Bearsville tapes.  Each album will be housed in an individual gatefold digipak with original art elements from each LP including inner sleeves and inserts.  Rundgren, Sulton, Wilcox, and Powell have all made written contributions to this set, as well.  Fifteen bonus tracks are spread across the seven albums, including live performances, promotional single versions, and more.

Following the period chronicled in the new box, the band recorded three more albums for the Network and Passport labels between 1982 and 1985.  Numerous compilations and archival releases have celebrated Utopia in recent years (including a “lost” album, 1976’s Disco Jets) but The Road to Utopia has all of the band’s music as originally released during the period covered.

The 2018 reunion tour will likely touch on various eras of the group’s long history; Schuckett was part of the first 1974-1975 line-up, while Sulton has recurred in the band over the years: 1974-1982, 1982-1986, and 1992.  Wilcox was a member between 1975 and 1986, and joined again for the 1992 reunion.  The tour will kick off in Pennsylvania on April 18th and will wrap up on June 5th in California.

The Road to Utopia: The Complete Recordings 1974-1982 is due on April 20th.


Esoteric Recordings is pleased to announce the latest release in the Todd Rundgren Archive series, “ALL SIDES OF THE ROXY 1978”. In May 1978 Todd Rundgren performed a series of concerts at The Roxy Theater in West Hollywood, California with a band comprising members of The Hello People (Bobby Sedita, Larry Tasse, Greg Geddes & Norman Smart) along with keyboard player Moogy Klingman, bassist John Seigler and drummer John “Willie” Wilcox.

The highlight of this residency was a concert on the 23rd May 1978 which was the largest concert simulcast on American FM radio at that time with an estimated audience of over ten million listeners. Hosted by the legendary DJ Wolfman Jack (himself the inspiration for a song on Rundgren’s “Something Anything” album), Todd tore through a wonderful set that included material from both his solo albums (including the recently released “Hermit of Mink Hollow”) and his work with Utopia. He was joined on stage by such illustrious company as Daryl Hall & John Oates, Stevie Nicks, Spencer Davis, Rick Derringer and Kasim Sulton (of Utopia).

This three disc clamshell boxed set includes the entire set from the 23rd May concert over two discs, along with a third disc comprising other soundboard recordings made by Todd during his residence of shows at The Roxy. This release also features an illustrated booklet and is a welcome addition to Esoteric Recordings’ Todd Rundgren Archive series.

Wave is an album by the Patti Smith Group, released May 17th, 1979 The title track was a tribute to Pope John Paul I, whose brief papacy coincided with the recording sessions. The first single off the album was “Frederick”, a love song for her husband-to-be Fred “Sonic” Smith with a melody and structure bearing resemblance to “Because the Night”, the group’s biggest hit. The second single, “Dancing Barefoot”, has been covered by many artists.

“Wave” is an album by the Patti Smith Group, released May 17th, 1979 on Arista Records. This album was less commercially successful than its predecessor, “Easter, although it continued the band’s move towards more radio-friendly mainstream music. It was produced by famed artist/producer Todd Rundgren.

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Artists Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe met in New York City in 1967 and were in a love affair until 1974, when Mapplethorpe realised he was homosexual. Their early years together are documented in Mapplethorpe’s intimate black-and-white portraits of Smith, two of which featured on the covers of Horses (1975) an Wave (1979). In 2011, Smith interviewed for Time, “I was his first model, a fact that fills me with pride. The photographs he took of me contain a depth of mutual love and trust inseparable from the image. His work magnifies his love for his subject and his obsession with light.” The pair remained friends, artistic collaborators and soul mates until Mapplethorpe died of Aids in 1989. The photographer also shot album covers for artists including Paul Simon and is famed for his portraits and controversial images of the underground BDSM scene in the late 1960s and 70s.

The title track was a tribute to Pope John Paul I, whose brief papacy coincided with the recording sessions. The first single off the album was Frederick, a love song for her husband-to-be Fred Sonic Smith with a melody and structure bearing resemblance to “Because The Night” , the group’s biggest hit. The second single, “Dancing Barefoot”, has been covered by many artists.

The band broke up after this album was released, and Smith went on to marry Fred Smith. She spent many years in semi-retirement following the birth of their children, Jesse and Jackson, until her 1988 solo comeback album, “Dream Of Life” . The 1996 remaster of Wave includes Smith’s original version of “Fire of Unknown Origin.” Blue Öyster Cult‘s version was released on their album of the same name in 1981. The back cover of the original LP bore a quote from the Jean Genet poem, “Le Condamné à mort:”

Oh go through the walls; if you must, walk on the ledges
Of roofs, of oceans; cover yourself with light;
Use menace, use prayer…
My sleepers will flee toward another America

Upon its release in 1979, the album garnered mixed reviews, attracting either positive or negative commentary on its polished production and conventionality. Reviewers  were not favourable in their reviews of the album, with the former negatively likening it to Radio Ethiopia, Smith’s last album to be critically maligned and the latter concluding her review with “is this the blandest record in the world?”.Melody Maker were more appreciative of the album, praising Rundgren’s hand in the production and considered the songs to represent a newfound focus for Smith and the band.

All songs were written by Patti Smith, except where noted.

Side one
  1. Frederick” (Patti Smith) – 3:01
  2. Dancing Barefoot” (Smith, Ivan Kral) – 4:18
  3. So you want to Be (a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star)” (Jim McGuinn, Chris Hillman) – 4:18
  4. “Hymn” (Smith, Lenny Kaye) – 1:10
  5. “Revenge” (Smith, Kral) – 5:06
Side two
  1. “Citizen Ship” (Smith, Kral) – 5:09
  2. “Seven Ways of Going” (Smith) – 5:12
  3. “Broken Flag” (Smith, Kaye) – 4:55
  4. “Wave” (Smith) – 4:55
Compact Disc bonus tracks
  1. “Fire of Unknown Origin” (Smith, Kaye) – 2:09
  2. 5-4-3-2-1 / Wave” (1979-05-23rd Live; New York) (Paul Jones, Mike Hugg, Manfred Mann) – 2:43

Patti Smith Group

Additional musicians

Todd Rundgren, 'Something/Anything?'

Todd Rundgren had seemed to be on the verge of something big since the late ’60s. But something always got in the way of that next step. His band Nazz released three albums that never climbed beyond cult status. And his production work — starting a long career that’s included albums for Badfinger, Grand Funk, Meat Loaf, Patti Smith and XTC, among others — was just now getting started after being sprinkled with behind-the-scenes engineering gigs on records by the Band, plus an aborted attempt to make a Janis Joplin LP.
Then in late 1971 he began work on his third album, and the one that would make him a star: Something / Anything? a double album. Three quarters of the album was recorded in the studio with Rundgren playing all instruments and singing all vocals, as well as being the producer.
He did it by pretty much rearranging his past. He went solo — almost entirely solo — writing, recording and playing most of the double album by himself. And with all those tricks he picked up with all that studio time, he was able to effortlessly craft a masterpiece of technical wizardry, blue-eyed soul and some hints of the experimental path his career would take over the next few years.
Todd Rundgren began recording “Something / Anything?” in Los Angeles, working in a studio by himself, layering instruments — starting with drums — one by one until the songs were finished. The whirlwind sessions yielded some of his best songs, including album opener “I Saw the Light,” “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference” and “Couldn’t I Just Tell You.”

An earthquake hit L.A. after Rundgren had enough material recorded for a double album, but he returned to his home in New York and wanted to lay down more songs, these in the form of live jam sessions with musicians he didn’t know. The task of assembling the players — including guitarist Rick Derringer, Blood, Sweat and Tears co-founder Randy Brecker and some members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band — went to keyboardist Moogy Kingman, who would later form the more prog-minded Utopia with Rundgren.

The results were pared down to Something / Anything?‘s fourth side, 25 minutes of songs like “Slut” a track that included ’60s-era snippets of Rundgren’s early bands covering “Money (That’s What I Want)” and “Messin’ With the Kid” and, best of all, a power-pop update of “Hello It’s Me,” a song from Rundgren’s Nazz days that was originally recorded as a mournful dirge. The reworked song was released as a single and hit No. 5, his only Top 10.
It’s the centerpiece of Something / Anything?, along with the LP’s fourth side. The album was shaped by Rundgren’s unhappiness working with other people, but was partly defined by the full-band workouts that end the record. Either way, it served its purpose. Rundgren, the producer who had in a hand in crafting other artists’ hit records, was now a hit-making solo artist himself.

The album made it to the middle of the charts after its release in February 1972. It was Rundgren’s highest charting LP and his biggest seller. More important, though, it opened up a creative period that produced two more great albums over the next couple of years: 1973’s A Wizard, a True Star and the following year’s Todd, both way more experimental than the pop-leaning Something / Anything?, his undeniable piece of classic music.

At The BBC is a 3 cd/1 dvd box set featuring all of Todd Rundgren’s BBC radio and television appearances between 1972 and 1982.

Remastered from the BBC master tapes, the set includes 30 unreleased performances, including two songs from the 1982 Old Grey Whistle Test performance that weren’t broadcast.

The years covered on this three-CD/one-DVD set are the peak years of Todd Rundgren’s stardom, when he was not only touring on his own but with his often bizarre arena-prog outfit Utopia.  “Todd Rundgren at the BBC” tips heavily in favor of the Utopia period, with two of its CDs devoted to a BBC Radio One In Concert sessions from 1975 and 1977, while the DVD contains two Old Grey Whistle Test appearances with the band. There is some solo Todd, though, including a lengthy Old Grey Whistle Test from 1982 (several songs here were originally not broadcast) but the most interesting thing here is the earliest material, a BBC Radio One In Concert from 1972 that captures Todd alone at the piano. He’s joshing with the audience, particularly on “Piss Aaron,” where he spends time discussing the verses at length, and he takes the piss out of “Be Nice to Me,” claiming it’s a silly song. Silliness can be heard elsewhere, including a broadly campy version of “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story, and that helps lighten a load that winds up getting slightly leaden due to the long stretches of Utopia at their densest. This era of Todd remains divisive — some love it, while others will never warm to it — and that keeps this set from being a must for fanatics, yet there’s no denying that there’s plenty of endearing, enduring eccentricity from one of pop’s great madmen to be heard.

When you come from another planet you simply have to do everything yourself. You have to play the bass, the guitar, the keys, the sax, the drums, you have to sing it, produce it, engineer it, mix it, edit it, cut it, you have to write it, promote it and you have to do your own make up. But that’s nothing for an alien

Was there nothing Todd Rundgren couldn’t do? “Hello It’s Me”  from the 1972 double album  Something/Anything reached No.5 on the US charts and established Rundgren as a major creative force. Hello It’s Me had originally been recorded by his previous band The Nazz on their first album in 1968. Rundgren credits Jimmy Smith as inspiration for the song but his debt to Laura Nyro seems hard to deny. You can hear her in the song, her style, her way of writing songs – she had become his inspiration. That’s Eric Clapton’s psychedelic guitar, painted by Dutch art collective, The Fool.



Out this week is the deluxe expanded album SKYLARKING reissued in a 5.1 surround sound from Steven Wilson,this track “Dear God” from the brilliant english band XTC who released the album in 1986 the track DEAR GOD was not originally on the final running list but was added after it became hugely popular after a radio station in the USA flipped the A-Side of the song “Grass” to play the anti-theist anthem leaving off the track “Mermaid Smile”. the sessions produced by Todd Rundgren who famously did not get along with Andy Partridge, XTC were melodic angular pop with jagged riffs this reissue is one of the finest album to be released at that time its lush broad and deeply expansive and parts of the psychedelia sound for the next Dukes of stratosphere appear

xtc skylarking