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Crossover Prog • United States

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Todd Rundgren biography
Hailing from Upper Derby in Pennsylvania, Rundgren played in several bands in New Jersey and Philadelphia during the mid to late 60's including the blues based Woody's Truck Stop, before forming The Nazz, in 1967. Playing both guitar and bass, Rundgren unapologetically drew inspiration from UK bands such as The Move & The Yardbirds, and, in signing to SGC records, they released Nazz Nazz in 1969.

When the band split, Rundgren simultaneously went in to producing and engineering for Bearsville Records, while forming his own band 'Runt'; a vehicle for his own solo career, the eponymous debut for which he released in 1970, which included the Top 40 hit 'We Gotta Get You A Woman'. It was however his reputation for production which ironically gained momentum, engineering The Band & Jesse Winchester, before Badfinger's 'Straight Up' gave him the hit 'Baby Blue'.

This success enabled him to produce his own, critically acclaimed power pop-oriented double album, 'Something/ Anything?' in 1972, upon which he played every instrument. With the door to success opening to him, he spurned it with future releases, such as 1973's eclectic follow-up, A Wizard, A True Star, and 1974's more progressive Todd, which contained several lengthy, experimental instrumentals. Rundgren's music was at its most progressive with his band Utopia (a band consisting of three keyboard players), which released Todd Rundgren's Utopia and Initiation in 1974 & 75 respectively, and Another Live, which showcased the bands experimental synthesiser work, with epics mostly over 10 minutes long.

During this period, his music addressed cosmic themes, a reflection of his strong interest in far Eastern religion and philosophy. It is this period of Rundgren's solo work, running parallel with 'Utopia' which will be of most interest to the progressive rock fan, as his music not only displayed psychedelic rock influences, but also the avant-garde Jazz Fusion of artists such as Mahavishnu Orchestra and Frank Zappa. This was underlined by Rundgren's increasingly lavish, ambitious stage settings, which echoed the space-themed shows of acts like Funkedelic & Parliament.

Rundgren's 1976 album Faithful, saw him return to the rock/pop genre which has brought him some success in the early '70s, with a side of original songs, and a side of 60's covers, such as Good Vibrations. This continued with 1978's Hermit Of Mink Hollow, which produced the hit single, 'Can We Still Be friends' which wa...
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White KnightWhite Knight
Cleopatra 2017
Audio CD$12.79
Evening With Todd Rundgren: Live at the RidgefieldEvening With Todd Rundgren: Live at the Ridgefield
Purple Pyramid 2016
Audio CD$8.99
$13.01 (used)
Very Best ofVery Best of
Rhino 1997
Audio CD$7.49
$3.47 (used)
Something / Anything?Something / Anything?
Rhino 2008
Audio CD$14.99
$10.42 (used)
The Complete Bearsville Albums Collection (13CD)The Complete Bearsville Albums Collection (13CD)
Box set
Bearsville 2016
Audio CD$34.83
$53.11 (used)
A Wizard, A True StarA Wizard, A True Star
Rhino Records / Bearsville 1990
Audio CD$8.15
$7.49 (used)
The Definitive Rock CollectionThe Definitive Rock Collection
Bearsville 2006
Audio CD$14.42
$6.38 (used)
Box O'ToddBox O'Todd
Box set
Purple Pyramid 2016
Audio CD$19.99
$33.56 (used)
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Todd Rundgren Initiation UK vinyl LP album record K55504 BEARSVILLE 1975 USD $17.82 Buy It Now 2h 36m
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Todd Rundgren Initiation Dutch vinyl LP album record 200759 BEARSVILLE 1975 USD $24.21 Buy It Now 2h 41m
State Todd Rundgren Audio CD USD $39.03 Buy It Now 2h 46m
Todd Rundgren 3" CD single (CD3) Bang The Drum All Day UK CD3-6 CASTLE 1988 USD $14.04 Buy It Now 2h 55m
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With A Twist Todd Rundgren Japanese CD album (CDLP) TOCP-50396 TOSHIBA-EMI USD $28.74 Buy It Now 3h 12m
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Todd Rundgren 7" vinyl single record We Gotta Get You A Woman USA X31001 AMPEX USD $25.49 Buy It Now 3h 16m
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Faithful Todd Rundgren CD album (CDLP) Japanese VICP-63456 VICTOR Audiophile USD $41.53 Buy It Now 3h 47m
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Todd Rundgren An Elpee's Worth Of Productions USA CD album (CDLP) R270519 USD $22.35 Buy It Now 4h 27m
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Todd Rundgren CD album (CDLP) The Very Best Of Todd Rundgren USA R272811 RHINO USD $19.79 Buy It Now 4h 27m
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Todd Rundgren Redux '92: Live In Japan Utopia CD album (CDLP) German USD $22.35 Buy It Now 4h 27m
Hermit Of Mink Hollow Todd Rundgren UK CD album (CDLP) CLC5085 CASTLE 1992 USD $15.96 Buy It Now 4h 27m
Todd Rundgren Reconstructed USA CD album (CDLP) CLP0935-2 CLEOPATRA USD $15.97 Buy It Now 4h 27m
No World Order - Lite Todd Rundgren USA CD album (CDLP) R271744 RHINO 1994 USD $13.42 Buy It Now 4h 27m
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Todd Rundgren Live USA CD album (CDLP) 70710-88056-2 KING BISCUIT USD $22.35 Buy It Now 4h 27m
Todd Rundgren CD album (CDLP) With A Twist UK 8598662 GUARDIAN/EMI 1997 USD $18.53 Buy It Now 4h 27m
Anthology: 1968-1985 Todd Rundgren 2 CD album (Double CD) USA R271491 RHINO USD $54.30 Buy It Now 4h 27m
Todd Rundgren No World Order USA CD album (CDLP) R271266 RHINO 1993 USD $15.96 Buy It Now 4h 27m
Todd Rundgren Castle Masters Collection UK CD album (CDLP) CMC3078 CASTLE 1992 USD $22.35 Buy It Now 4h 27m
Todd Rundgren 2nd Wind CD album (CDLP) German 7599-26478-2 WARNER BROS 1991 USD $22.35 Buy It Now 4h 27m
Todd Rundgren Todd + Ticket Stub UK tour programme TOUR PROGRAMME AUTHENTICS USD $36.35 Buy It Now 4h 31m
Todd Rundgren vinyl LP album record A Wizard A True Star UK 45513 BEARSVILLE USD $24.21 Buy It Now 4h 39m
TODD RUNDGREN / Real Man - Stereo & Mono / Bearsville PROMO 45rpm Vinyl USD $3.99 Buy It Now 5h 14m
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Todd Rundgren - Faithful [New CD] USD $10.34 Buy It Now 6h 23m
Todd Rundgren - Wolfman Jack K 15519 UK 7" 1st Press 1974 Bearsville USD $7.65 Buy It Now 6h 25m
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TODD RUNDGREN Live 1989 double lp PROMO ONLY USD $49.99 Buy It Now 7h
Faithful by Todd Rundgren (CD, Jan-1987, Rhino (Label)) USD $13.80 Buy It Now 7h 17m
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Todd Rundgren Utopia ANother Live LP 1975 Bearsville BR6961 Vinyl WAX USD $6.49 [0 bids]
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Todd Rundgren's Utopia - Live at The Fox 1973 - RSD Limited Ed. 2 LP Set USD $37.99 [0 bids]
8h 21m
Todd Rundgren's Utopia Another Live Vinyl LP - EX USD $7.59 Buy It Now 8h 57m
Todd Rundgren Healing Vinyl LP - EX USD $8.68 Buy It Now 8h 58m
Initiation by Todd Rundgren (CD, Jul-1975, Rhino (Label) not 1987 USD $19.99 Buy It Now 9h 18m
Under Cover (Soundtrack) (Todd Rundgren) (TSOL, Agent Orange, Wednesday Week) USD $19.99 Buy It Now 9h 21m
UTOPIA deface the music LP Mint- BRK 3487 Bearsville 1980 Todd Rundgren USD $8.40 Buy It Now 9h 26m
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Todd Rundgren / TR-I? No World Order Japan CD USD $22.50 Buy It Now 9h 48m
TODD RUNDGREN Hermit Of Monk Hollow ORIG 1st UK 1978 BEARSVILLE + Inner N MINT USD $12.76 [0 bids]
9h 58m
LARRY TAGG With A Skeleton Crew (CD 1995) Original Empire EX+/EX Todd Rundgren USD $0.99 Buy It Now 9h 58m
Todd Rundgren Can We Still Be Friends / I Saw The Light JUKE 7" 45 rpm NM Vinyl USD $7.00 Buy It Now 10h 31m
TODD RUNDGREN Change Myself RARE EDIT PROMO Radio DJ CD Single 1991 procd4551 USD $23.74 Buy It Now 10h 43m
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TODD RUNDGREN Singles 1998 Japan Import 2 CD Set w/Obi 42 Pg Book VICP-60269-70 USD $69.99 Buy It Now 12h 51m
TODD RUNDGREN Demos And Lost Albums 2001 Japan Imp 2 CD Set w/Obi CRCL-7707/08 USD $59.99 Buy It Now 12h 51m
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UTOPIA Oblivion ORIGINAL Passport CD PBCD 6029 Todd Rundgren Kasim Sulton USD $34.99 Buy It Now 12h 55m
UTOPIA Trivia ORIGINAL 1986 Passport CD PBCD 6053 Todd Rundgren Kasim Sulton USD $29.99 Buy It Now 12h 55m
TODD RUNDGREN: Healing SEALED USA ORIG vinyl lp w/ STICKER nice USD $17.50 Buy It Now 13h 9m
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TODD RUNDGREN discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

TODD RUNDGREN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.03 | 38 ratings
2.30 | 42 ratings
Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren
3.29 | 64 ratings
4.00 | 86 ratings
A Wizard, a True Star
3.91 | 68 ratings
3.77 | 62 ratings
2.86 | 39 ratings
3.11 | 36 ratings
Hermit of Mink Hollow
2.98 | 30 ratings
2.02 | 31 ratings
The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect
2.48 | 25 ratings
A Cappella
3.05 | 24 ratings
Nearly Human
2.51 | 22 ratings
2nd Wind
1.64 | 21 ratings
No World Order
2.94 | 12 ratings
No World Order, Lite
2.19 | 14 ratings
The Individualist
2.71 | 9 ratings
With a Twist
2.33 | 3 ratings
Up Against It
2.16 | 12 ratings
One Long Year
3.25 | 21 ratings
2.85 | 18 ratings
2.75 | 4 ratings
Todd Rundgren's Johnson
1.67 | 3 ratings
2.30 | 13 ratings
2.60 | 5 ratings
2.51 | 3 ratings
Runddans (with Emil Nikolaisen & Hans-Peter Lindstrom)

TODD RUNDGREN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.66 | 17 ratings
Back to the Bars

TODD RUNDGREN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

TODD RUNDGREN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.20 | 6 ratings
Anthology (1968 - 1985)
3.08 | 5 ratings
The Very Best of Todd Rundgren
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Best Of Todd Rundgren - Go Ahead. Ignore Me
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Definitive Rock Collection

TODD RUNDGREN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Healing by RUNDGREN, TODD album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.98 | 30 ratings

Todd Rundgren Crossover Prog

Review by CassandraLeo

4 stars It's a bit beyond me why this album has been so overlooked in Rundgren's catalogue. The album is certainly a product of its time, which means that anyone who doesn't like the sound of '80s synthesizers won't find much to enjoy here. It's also true that, because the songs are a bit more low-key than Rundgren's usual fare, they aren't as immediately catchy as many parts of his catalogue are. However, it's unique in Rundgren's catalogue and, as far as I can ascertain, the whole canon of recorded music.

Rundgren eases you into the album with straightforward synth-pop songs, and the last two songs on the CD version are also straightforward synth-pop (they are included as a separate 7" single on the vinyl, which I will discuss later). However, the midsection of the album - "Shine" and the title track - is an effective fusion of synth-pop and progressive rock, and I haven't heard anything else like them. Perhaps someone like Mike Oldfield was attempting similar material at the time, but there's an atmosphere here that's somewhat different from that of Oldfield's work.

I think part of the reason this album often gets overlooked is because it demands too much patience from listeners who are expecting simple pop songs, but it also contrasts with the flashy showmanship of Rundgren's mid- seventies material. "Healing" runs for twenty minutes, and while it's far from a straightforward verse-chorus-bridge pop song (the song is divided into three tracks because they are discrete parts of the work, not merely for ease of CD navigation), it also doesn't rely on displays of instrumental virtuosity like the best of Utopia's material and Rundgren's mid-'70s solo work did. But that's not the point - the point is to take the listener on an elaborate, emotional musical journey that simply wouldn't have been possible in the form of a three-minute pop song.

The title track is clearly going to get the most attention here, though "Shine" may actually hew closer to what is generally expected of prog - it has a more complex arrangement and is closer to, well, rock music. Along with the title track, it is a highlight of the album. The remaining songs are very good pop compositions, though. For me, the standouts among these are "Flesh", which details Rundgren's thoughts on human institutions such as the law, "Compassion", about exactly what its title specifies, and the final two tracks, "Time Heals" and "Tiny Demons".

Rundgren placed these last two songs on a separate 7" single with the vinyl edition of the album, despite the fact that the single combined with the album's B-side (total length 26:40) is actually shorter than the album's A-side (27:08). While this could have been done for reasons of audio fidelity, Rundgren has never been one to shy away from lengthy album sides (the A-side and B-side of Initiation, infamously, run for 32:08 and 35:20 respectively, making it one of the longest single LPs ever released), so it was more likely done to emphasise that they are intended to be considered separately from the title track. They do feel somewhat different in tone from the rest of the album, but I almost always play them after the B-side regardless. "Time Heals" is probably the catchiest song on the entire album, and "Tiny Demons" is a beautiful, subdued ballad that was used on Miami Vice, a TV series often noted for making superb music choices.

Overall, not everyone will love this album, and it demands a lot of patience from the listener before it begins to deliver its gifts. However, it's one of my favourite works Rundgren has released, and I find it comforting in a way that few other musical works can manage. I'm going to give it four stars for my review here because not everything here can be properly considered to be progressive rock, but if I were rating purely on the basis of music quality, I'd award it five stars without hesitation.

 Hermit of Mink Hollow by RUNDGREN, TODD album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.11 | 36 ratings

Hermit of Mink Hollow
Todd Rundgren Crossover Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars The Best post-Wizard Solo Studio Album.

Here, Rundgren continues with the kind of short, thoughtful, and well-crafted songs that he put on side 2 of Faithful, but writes generally stronger material. Indeed, this album contains some of Rundgren's better lyrics. It is intelligent and accessible, but not overly-poppy. This is often considered his best solo album by mainstream critics, but of course, they are less likely to be able to sit through Wizard. I agree that this is one of his best solo albums, more consistent than either Faithful, Something/Anything, or (especially) Todd, and better than most of his solo work that would come afterwards. But it is also clear that his energy for creating innovative new forms of music - so evident on Wizard and TR's Utopia - had waned. This is not in the same league at all as Wizard. But I like it better than Something/Anything. Thankfully, all the songs are decent, and one can listen to this album all the way through without having to hit skip. The songs on Side 2 are particularly good ("Bread", "Bag Lady", "Lucky Guy") and on this album Rundgren lyrics contain social commentary and a more mature adult outlook. So, recommended. I give this album 7.7 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to high 3 PA stars.

 Faithful by RUNDGREN, TODD album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.86 | 39 ratings

Todd Rundgren Crossover Prog

Review by Walkscore

2 stars Side 2 OK, but a pointless 'concept' Side 1.

The title of this album refers to the fact that Rundgren chose to record cover versions of some of his favourite rock songs, and to be as faithful to the originals as possible. This he does no side 1, with cover versions of the Beach Boys ("Good Vibrations"), the Beatles ("Rain", "Strawberry Fields"), Bob Dylan ("Most Likely Go Your Way...") and Hendrix ("If 6 Was 9") among others. While Rundgren shows he can do an amazing job of copying some of the vintage sounds, what is the point? Why would we want to listen to these versions? Don't get me wrong - I support artists making cover versions of classic songs - but I am most interested in hearing where they take the song that is different from the originals, turning into something new and different. That is the art in covering and interpreting other's music. I don't know why he thought we would want to listen to him being faithful to the originals.

However, side 2 is different, with 6 original Rundgren songs. One of these, "Love of the Common Man" is a Rundgren classic, and up there with the best Rundgren songs. "Black and White" and "The Verb to Love" are also decent, although pretty poppy and not that progressive. The last piece, "Boogies", has some good guitar playing, but sounds like filler. (But isn't all of side 1 filler?). I am not sure why Rundgren didn't just record a full album of originals. As it turns out, there are only a few original songs making one want to get this album. The general quality is not low, per se, but most of it is simply pointless. I give this album 4.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 2 PA stars. Really, only for fans (and even then, mostly for the excellent "Love of the Common Man").

 Initiation by RUNDGREN, TODD album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.77 | 62 ratings

Todd Rundgren Crossover Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Some Gems, but what happened to that epic?

This album is quite different on each side. On side 1 you have individual songs, some of which are excellent Rundgren radio-friendly songs ("Real Man") and some which are excellent Utopia-like progressive rock pieces ("Initiation" and "Fair Warning"). Even "Born to Synthesize", his synth experiment on this album, is decent and listenable. The second side seems to me to be a case of Rundgren losing steam. It is a 36-minute long song, but not one like The Ikon (from TR's Utopia) with a full band and guitar solos, etc, but instead just Todd on synthesizers and no vocals. It seems to me from listening to this, that Rundgren had intended to write another 30-minute progressive rock epic, like The Ikon, and this track is his sketching out of the piece in the studio. But somewhere along the way, he lost energy and/or interest in turning this into a progressive rock epic, and so just released the sketch he did largely with just the synths, and without writing the vocals. As such, it feels unfinished. There are some decent parts - it really could have been a great composition! But it is also clear it was intended to have vocals - there are sections where the chord changes are begging for a vocal overlay, which never came. After this album, Rundgren went back to writing only short songs. I think it was during this album that he found he just didn't have the energy needed to create another epic - it is the point at which you can see the huge potential Rundgren displayed in writing 'Todd Rundgren's Utopia' (the first Utopia album) and the great 'A Wizard A True Star' dissipate. From this point on, Rundgren would become a craftman of quality rock/pop. This album still has hints of Rundgren's innovative and progressive potential, but it is a potential that remained largely unrealized (except for the three great songs on side one). I give this 5.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to low 3 PA stars.

 Todd by RUNDGREN, TODD album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.91 | 68 ratings

Todd Rundgren Crossover Prog

Review by Walkscore

2 stars A Failed Experiment. Should also have been a single album.

While Wizard saw Rundgren takes risks that paid off hugely, Todd largely falls flat. It is full of short synth instrumentals and experiments that only sometimes work, and which disrupt the flow of the real music so much that it is very difficult to listen to this album all the way through. There are some gems here, but they are a minority, and are scattered in such a way that one needs to hit skip all the time. "A Dream Goes on Forever" is classic Rundgren, and was the single from this album, very nice (if poppy) song. "Heavy Metal Kids" and "Sons of 1984" are important Rundgren songs that were played live by his band (both solo bands and later Utopia), although I don't think either is that musical. However, there is one amazing 10/10 song here: "The Last Ride". This is a fantastic rock tune, not really progressive but it has a great, classic, guitar solo, among Rundgren's top five songs. Other than this, the picking are rather slim. I give this album 3.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to lower 2 PA stars. Other than "The Last Ride", only for fans.

 A Wizard, a True Star by RUNDGREN, TODD album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.00 | 86 ratings

A Wizard, a True Star
Todd Rundgren Crossover Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars His Best Solo Album, although not as good as the first Utopia album.

It is amazing to think this was made right after 'Something/Anything'. While the latter is light and poppy (and yet also too long!), 'Wizard' is innovative, provocative, soulful, counter-cultural. Made around the same time as the first Utopia album, this album also features Moogy Klingman on keys. The two albums are complementary, yet totally different. While TR's Utopia is a symphony of highly complex, virtuoso but beautiful music all flowing together perfectly, Wizard involves a collage of short and often whimsical fragments thrown together in order to disrupt and provoke, often with humour. Utopia is by far the higher achievement, and a far more musical album. But Wizard also deserves special recognition, as only on some of Zappa's earlier albums (eg "We're Only In It...") does this kind of collage work so well. The first side starts and ends with "International Feel", which clearly shows its lineage to the music on Utopia, with very short snippets filling the space between them, some great, some that don't work so well as music, but all of which maintain the collage momentum. The second side contains longer and more soulful pieces, some of which seaugue or collage, others which stand on their own. The hit from this album, "Sometimes I don't know what to Feel" is a great Rundgren soul tune. But the real standout here is "Just One Victory", probably Rundgren's best solo song, and often played live by Utopia later on. In between, Rundgren has a few humourous but good-quality tunes, such as "Hungry for Love" and "Is It My Name?", and a four-part medley of some of his favourite soul pieces (one of which - "Cool Jerk" - Rundgren put into 7/8 time instead of 4/4). While the musicality is up and down on this album, it is Rundgren's most inventive, and contains some of his best solo songs. I give it 8.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is on the higher end of 4 PA stars.

 Something/Anything? by RUNDGREN, TODD album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.29 | 64 ratings

Todd Rundgren Crossover Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Should have been a single album.

While I normally support putting out more, rather than less, music, if just because what the record companies think is worth selling is often inferior to the experimental or marginal tunes many artists come up with, I take the opposite argument with many Rundgren double-albums. This album epitomizes the issue (and 'Todd' is even worse!). Released as a double album, it contains a lot of filler that after a few listens becomes unlistenable. However, there IS some good music on this album (and others), if you are willing to wade through it. Indeed, I find there is about one single-album's worth of good tunes on this. His single "Saw the Light" is, well, light but good, as are the fluffier poppier tunes of "It wouldn't have made any difference" and his remake of "Hello its me". Other notables include "Wolfman Jack", "Sweeter Memories", "Black Maria", "The Night the Carousel burnt down", and the closers "You Left me Sore" and "Slut". Even with just these tunes - making up a single album - the quality is just 'good'. It is mostly light pop - high quality at times - but nothing to write home about. I give this album 5.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is at the low end of 3 PA stars. Much better albums would be forthcoming after this one.

 A Wizard, a True Star by RUNDGREN, TODD album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.00 | 86 ratings

A Wizard, a True Star
Todd Rundgren Crossover Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Whilst I found the subsequent Todd Rundgren's Utopia to be hopelessly overblown, on A Wizard, a True Star Todd Rundgren indulges his prog instincts in a more adept manner. The first side is a suite of hyper-short snippets, tape experiment, pocket songs, and sheer musical delirium, which puts me in mind of the first side of Absolutely Free by the Mothers of Invention less in terms of its musical style (quintessentially 1970s prog-tinged USA art rock) and more in terms of its structure. The second side finds Todd blending prog and classic 1960s Motown numbers in a number of longer, more developed pieces,

If both sides were like side 2, this would seem like a natural evolution from Something/Anything?, but with side 1 in place it becomes a sonic revolution, and a well-realised and intriguing one at that.

 Runddans (with Emil Nikolaisen & Hans-Peter Lindstrom) by RUNDGREN, TODD album cover Studio Album, 2015
2.51 | 3 ratings

Runddans (with Emil Nikolaisen & Hans-Peter Lindstrom)
Todd Rundgren Crossover Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

3 stars Trying out pants with Todd

The biggest curve ball of 2015 has got to be this baffling release. It is always interesting to hear old timers doing something new, fresh and above all completely original. Teaming up with guitarist and front man off Norwegian alternative rock band Serena-Maneesh, Emil Nikolaisen, and space disco pioneer Hans-Peter LindstrÝm, Todd seems to have gone for a modern and altogether different sonic route than what he's accustomed to.....which, of course, is quite true. What you effectively get here is something so strange and unique that it literally had me reaching for my spare ears. 'Runddans' is Donna Summer without the bass boom and danceable vibe - it's disco heading for the avantguarde - upbeat and elusive like a fox in a sauna.

The music is build around LindstrÝm and Nikolaisen's electronic programming and synth bleeps - evoking a fluffy and airy cotton candy universe on which Rundgren's evocative vocals weave in and out like voices on the wind or in a hazy dream. The whole thing feels highly unorthodox. When a melody or a rare groove occasionally seems to take shape it rather quickly fades away into the aforementioned swirling candy world......which makes it all the more surprising that you actually remember the returning vocal theme 'Put Your Arms Around Me' sung affectionately by the old master himself.

More than anything 'Runddans' feels like an experiment. An experiment from three musicians who all professionally dabble in the high art of mixing...on here though you feel as if you're sat in a room where three different albums are playing all at once - challenging every player involved to listen intently to his surroundings yet without ever losing the scope of his own vision...and how it stacks up with what's zooming out of his playmates.

This album is one long story where tracks, ethereal vocalisations, airy synths and disco sensibilities are forged together with the occasional rock and pop cameo. The music though never sounds normal....even when it incorporates those beautiful recurring vocal themes. It is far too shapeshifting and elusive for that. On the contrary 'Runddans' seems determined to bend and writhe styles of music that, to most people, are sacrilegious to alter or even play around with. Mostly because it takes away the easy digestible hook and groove of the disco movement and splices it together with a remarkable ebb and flow effect that will have most listeners pulling out their hair. The main thing to remember about music, especially with an album like this, is that it often is the journey that counts. 'Runddans' is a continuous search for a lost melody - a memory of an old grandiose disco production - only delivered over to the listener as a rather charming if not wholly fragmented piece of experimental music.

If you're sitting out there with a girlfriend who's both an old extra from Saturday Night Fever and a raving schizophrenic, then 'Runddans' is for you. I tried dancing to it once and ended up on the floor with my legs in the air doing these strange elliptical shaking motions. 'Wow' I said to myself 'this is what John Travolta looks like when he simultaneously is doing mescaline and trying on pants'. 3.5 stars.

 Runddans (with Emil Nikolaisen & Hans-Peter Lindstrom) by RUNDGREN, TODD album cover Studio Album, 2015
2.51 | 3 ratings

Runddans (with Emil Nikolaisen & Hans-Peter Lindstrom)
Todd Rundgren Crossover Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

2 stars I need to post a couple of things before getting into the actual review of this album:

First: In the Boston area, Tufts University's WMFO was one of the area's best radio stations for prog fans in the 1980s and 1990s. I almost always had a radio on in my bedroom tuned to WMFO, even when sleeping. In the late 80s, I happened to get of the worst cases of influenza I have had in my life. I went to be with WMFO playing in the background. After a short amount of sleep, I awoke to the DJ doing what they called "free mixing". This was a process of cutting up a song and playing the bits back in whatever order the DJ felt like using, while running it all through various studio effects, usually echo and reverb, with whatever other toys were in the studio. In my experience, this has never made for good listening. In this case, it was like a nightmare. I was too sick to get out of bed, and had to listen to this awful, repetitive mush of sound for the entire length of the perpetrator's on-air shift. To this day, I still cannot tolerate the Romantic's "Talking In Your Sleep".

Second: In 1993, Todd Rundgren tried to rebrand himself as "TR-i" (the "i" being for "interactive"). Into computers since the early days of music videos, he fashioned a TR-i web site, and released "No World Order", an attempt at electronic/hip-hop that mostly fell flat. He also toured the album in a small setup that placed him in the center of a bunch of keyboards, pads and devices, that allowed the audience to interact, that is to add their own sounds to Todd's music. I saw this at Boston's Cyclorama, a round cement room with absolutely no sound dampening. The result was an unlistenable barrage of noise, and one of the worst concerts I have ever been to.

So, this album by Todd and his Norwegian friends, Emil Nikolaisen and Hans-Peter Lindstrom, starts out promising. The first track has shades of "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire" from the 1975 album Initiation. The tracks then run together in a continuous stream, much like the "No World Order" album. But after the opening, and a couple of spacy but interesting pieces, the majority of this album becomes a mess of free mixing of what may be a song called "Put Your Arms Around Me" (the track by that name is just part of this).

There are a few lyrics ("Put your arms around me", "Going out of my head", and other short bits), but a complete song is never quite attained. Instead, as in free mixing, little pieces of the song are blended with other sounds and distorted by a variety of digital effects. I cannot deny that some of the parts of this are very good, but the majority remind me of the "Talking In Your Sleep" fiasco.

I also know that Todd was once one of the foremost producers in the business. His production on a large number of albums, from the 70s into the 90s was stellar. But I don't know what happened here. The distortion, reverb, and whatever make parts of this beast absolutely unlistenable (see the Cyclorama comments above for a reference).

Todd, I love most of your music, but I can only give this 2 stars.

Thanks to Fandango for the artist addition.

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