[Review] Todd Rundgren: Todd (1974)

There’s nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as messing about in notes.

Kronomyth 5.0: A double-elpee goes on forever.

As smart as it was, AWATS was a difficult album. Todd confirms the suspicion that Todd Rundgren was becoming a difficult artist. Released as a double elpee, this might have easily been winnowed down to a single record. That would have meant filtering out the synthesizer noodling and Gilbert and Sullivan songs, however, and Todd clearly had no interest in doing that. In fact, I’m not sure he wouldn’t have just as likely cut out the ballads at this point.

Todd is important for several reasons: it marks his deepest foray yet into synthesizers, a move that would manfiest itself more in Utopia and later albums like Healing; it contains a few minor classics in the Rundgren canon, including “A Dream Goes On Forever,” “I Think You Know,” “Izzat Love” and “Don’t You Ever Learn;” and it’s over an hour’s worth of music from an unquestionable musical genius. All of that said, Todd is his own worst enemy sometimes. Just when you think “Izzat Love” is a hit record in the making, he speeds up the sound to create distortion. On “Everybody’s Going To Heaven” and “Heavy Metal Kids,” Todd teases by shifting into rock & roll overdrive, only to suddenly downshift into dark musings.

Something/Anything? was a revelation. Todd reveals that genius is a double-edged sword, and not for nothing does this double elpee remain sheathed in its sleeve on most days. On compact disc, you can safely skip over the stranger sections, but you’ll still end up short of an elpee’s worth of songs. In an interesting turn of events (to be filed under “Time Heals,” perhaps), Todd performed this entire album live in 2010, suggesting that audiences have found something in Todd to champion that I may have missed.

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Original 2LP Version

A1. How About A Little Fanfare?
A2. I Think You Know (3:48)
A3. The Spark of Life (6:43)
A4. An Elpee’s Worth of Toons (2:08)
A5. A Dream Goes On Forever (2:21)
A6. Lord Chancellor’s Nightmare Song (W.S. Gilbert/Arthur Sullivan) (3:30)
B1. Drunken Blue Rooster (3:00)
B2. The Last Ride (4:46)
B3. Everybody’s Going To Heaven / King Kong Reggae (6:35)
C1. Number 1 Lowest Common Denominator (5:10)
C2. Useless Begging (3:27)
C3. Sidewalk Café (2:25)
C4. Izzat Love? (1:56)
C5. Heavy Metal Kids (4:13)
D1. In And Out Chakras We Go (Formerly Shaft Goes To Outer Space) (5:48)
D2. Don’t You Ever Learn? (6:01)
D3. Sons of 1984 (4:37)

All songs written and arranged by Todd Rundgren unless noted.

Expanded CD reissue bonus tracks
18. Wolfman Jack (duet version)

The Players

Todd Rundgren (instruments, voices) with Mike Brecker (sax), Randy Brecker (trumpet), Kevin Ellman (drums), First United Church of the Cosmic Smorgasbord, N.Y. and S.F. chapters (voices), Buffalo Bill Gelber (bass), Wells Kelly (drums), Moogy Klingman (keyboards, grand piano, organ, electric piano), John Miller (bass), Peter Ponzel (soprano saxophone), Barry Rogers (trombone), Ralph Shuckett (organ, clavinette), John Siegler (bass). Produced and engineered by Todd.

The Pictures

Cover photo by Alen MacWeeney. Back cover photo by Bill Klein, Jr. Photography by Joel Shapiro. Art direction by Jim Luft, A.G.I.

The Plastic

Released on 2LP in February 1974 in the US (Bearsville, 2 BR 6952), the UK (Bearsville, K85501), Germany (Bearsville, BEA 85501), Japan (Bearsville, P-5126/7W) and New Zealand (Bearsville, 2WBS6952) with lyrics poster; reached #54 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on 2LP and compact disc in 1989 in the UK (Castle, CLDLP/CLACD 177).
  2. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 1989 in Japan (Bearsville, VDP-28017).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in 1993 in the US (Rhino, 71108).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc in February 1999 in the UK (Essential, ESMCD674).
  5. Re-released on expanded super high material compact disc on March 18, 2009 in Japan (Bearsville, VICP-70062) with 1 bonus track.
  6. Re-released on K2 remastered compact disc in Japan (Bearsville, VICP-63452).
  7. Re-released 180g vinyl 2LP in 2013 in the US (Friday Music).
  8. Re-issued on compact disc on December 10, 2014 in Japan (Bearsville/Rhino, WPCR-80176).

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