[Review] Todd Rundgren: Something/Anything? (1972)

Rundgren proves he can play anything and do everything: rock, pop, ballads and comedy.

Kronomyth 3.0: Everything but the kitchen sink.

One-man band be damned, Todd Rundgren is a one-man radio station. Something/Anything? is a landmark in the annals of DIY (do it yourself) recordings, a nearly perfect songbook of pop music that displays remarkable breadth as a songwriter, musician (Todd plays every instrument for most of the double-album set) and producer. You could argue that he was building up to this on the last two Runt albums, but I’m not buying it. Those albums had a handful of strong tracks between them, while Something/Anything? buries you in brilliant ideas: “Hello It’s Me,” “I Saw The Light,” “Couldn’t I Just Tell You,” “Marlene,” “Torch Song,” “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference,” “You Left Me Sore” and seriously I’m just tired of typing song titles because the list goes on.

Carole King’s Tapestry is the precedent for some of this, but I think we can all agree that Tapestry didn’t rock, and a lot of Something/Anything? does. Frankly, I’m inclined to recall Zappa’s early albums like We’re Only In It For The Money when trying to explain how so much genius could be crammed into one head. Frank Zappa and Todd Rundgren are different artists, yet no so different as you might think. Both are uncompromising artists, perfectionists and geniuses with a genuine affection for doo-wop. While not everything on Something/Anything? is a gem, nothing on here is a trifle, from the souped-up instrumental “Breathless” (foreshadowing the synthesizer work of Healing) to a bad trip set to music, “I Went To The Mirror.”

My favorite song on Something/Anything? is…
…whichever song is playing at the time. That’s the wonderful thing about it. On most albums, you wait for your favorite songs to roll around. On Something/Anything?, I enjoy everything: “The Night The Carousel Went Down,” “It Takes Two To Tango,” “One More Day,” “Piss Aaron”—I’ve championed them all at some point. It’s an uncomfortable truth that Todd never approached this level of concentrated genius again, but I think the answer lies in the word “concentrated.” From this point forward, Todd would spread his talents across three careers: solo, Utopia and producer. Roll them all together, and you’ll see that Todd never stopped doing wonderful things, he just didn’t do them all in one place. While The BeatlesWhite Album invented the double-album opus, it took Todd Rundgren to show that a single artist could justify the double exposure. Even after forty years, Something/Anything? stands as one of the greatest achievements that a single artist has achieved in a single work. If you’re looking for something to pack for the desert island, you might not need to pack anything else.

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Original 2LP Version

A1. I Saw The Light (2:59)
A2. It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference (3:51)
A3. Wolfman Jack (2:55)
A4. Cold Morning Light (3:35)
A5. It Takes Two To Tango (This Is For The Girls) (2:43)
A6. Sweeter Memories (3:32)
B1. Intro (1:10)
B2. Breathless (3:15)
B3. The Night The Carousel Burned Down (4:32)
B4. Saving Grace (4:11)
B5. Marlene (3:55)
B6. Song of the Viking (2:37)
B7. I Went To The Mirror (4:06)
C1. Black Maria (5:18)
C2. One More Day (No Word) (3:44)
C3. Couldn’t I Just Tell You (3:36)
C4. Torch Song (2:51)
C5. Little Red Lights (4:51)
D1. Overture: Money (That’s What I Want) (Janie Bradford/Berry Gordy, Jr./Barrett Strong) (2:30)
D2. Dust In The Wind (Mark Klingman) (3:46)
D3. Piss Aaron (3:28)
D4. Hello It’s Me (4:41)
D5. Some Folks Is Even Whiter Than Me (3:57)
D6. You Left Me Sore (3:43)
D7. Slut (3:35)

All songs written by Todd Rundgren unless noted.

The Players

Todd Rundgren (vocals, piano, electric piano, guitars, synthesizer, drums, etc.) with Brooke Baxes (backing vocals on D7), Mike Brecker (tenor sax on D2/D4), Randy Brecker (trumpet on D2/D4), Anthony Carrubba (backing vocals on D7), Jim Colgrove (bass on D3), Dennis Cooley (backing vocals on D2/D4), Richard Corey (backing vocals on D2/D4/D6), Rick Derringer (guitar on D2), Gene Dinwiddle (tenor sax on D5), Henry Fanton (backing vocals on D7), Amos Garrett (guitar on D3), Jim Horn (tenor sax on D7), Serge Katzen (conga on D5), Ben Keith (pedal steel on D3), John Kelson (tenor sax on D7), Mark Klingman (piano, organ on D2/D4/D5/D6), Robbie Kogale (guitar on D4/D6), Bugsy Maugh (bass on D5), Billy Mundi (drums on D3/D5), Cecilia Norfleet (backing vocals on D2/D4), Edward Olmos (backing vocals on D7), Collie Read (bass on D1), Randy Read (rhythm guitar on D1), Vicki Robinson (backing vocals on D2/D4), Barry Rogers (trombone on D2/D4), Hope Ruff (backing vocals on D2/D4/D6), Hunt Sales (drums on D7), Tony Sales (bass on D7), Charlie Schoning (piano on D7), John Siegler (bass on D2), John Siomos (drums on D2/D4/D6), Stockman (drums on D1), Rick Valente (lead vocals on D1), Rick Vito (guitar on D7), Ralph Walsh (guitar on D5), Stu Woods (bass on D4/D6). Produced by Todd Rundgren; engineered by James Lowe and Todd Rundgren.

The Plastic

Released on 2LP on February 15, 1972 in the US (Bearsville, 2BX 2066) with gatefold cover; reached #29 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record).

  1. Re-released on remastered 2CD on January 13, 1988 in Japan (Bearsville, VDP-9023/4).
  2. Re-issued on 2CD in 1989 in the UK (Essential, ESDCD007).
  3. Re-issued on 2LP, cassette and compact disc in the US (Bearsville/Rhino, R2 71107) with poster.
  4. Re-released on remastered, 24k gold 2CD on February 15, 1994 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, UDCD2-591).
  5. Re-issued on remastered 2LP in 1995 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, MFSL-2-225).
  6. Re-released on 20-bit K2 remastered 2CD on September 22, 2009 in Japan (Bearsville, VICP-60805/6).
  7. Re-released on K2 remastered 2CD on July 20, 2011 in Japan (Bearsville, VICP-75004/5) and on 180g vinyl 2LP on September 20, 2011 in the US (Rhino, 97597).
  8. Re-issued on K2 remastered 2CD in 2016 in Japan (Bearsville, VICP-63261/2).
  9. Re-released on 180g colored vinyl elpee in 2019 in the Netherlands (Music on Vinyl, MOVLP2052) with gatefold cover and booklet, limited to 1,000 copies.

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