Thursday, January 8, 2009


Back when he only hated the world a little, Todd Rundgren would spend the time not recording a new solo record, or Utopia record, producing what seemed like everybody who was anybody. Grand Funk, The Tubes, Patti Smith, Meatloaf, The Psychedelic Furs, Badfinger, Ian Hunter, XTC, Tom Robinson, Rick Derringer and the New York Dolls (who are back in the studio with Todd at the helm), all had the privilege, depending on which band member you asked, to make music with this mad genius from Philly. Oh yes, and Shaun Cassidy, too.

1980 saw the release of "Wasp," a record that is essentially Utopia, with Shaun Cassidy on lead vocals. All Music couldn't have said it better:

In an attempt to radically change his image, Todd Rundgren and Utopia were recruited to reinvent teen idol Cassidy for the new wave '80s. WASP is an eclectic selection of covers, mixed with typical Rundgren originals, all delivered with adventurous, uniformly fine vocals from Cassidy. Throughout the album, Cassidy's expressive vocals redeem material that is ha
mpered by production quirks. And most of the album rises above the dated arrangements, which mar some of the best selections. "It's My Life" is effectively creepy with its eerie vocal and funereal tempo, "So Sad About Us" sports the strong group vocals and drive of Rundgren-styled power-pop, and "WASP" features a rapped lead vocal and heavy riff reminiscent of Utopia at its best.

My two cents:

As an ardent supporter of Mr. Rundgren, a new production would always suffice, like a musical Snickers bar, until the real meat and potatoes of a solo album would come along and stick to my ribs. "Wasp" almost did the trick. I prefer the Rundgren originals, two of which I have here for your listening pleasure, to the sometimes comical arrangements of some otherwise excellent cover material. The one cover I chose for this quick mix is The Who's "So Sad About Us," for exactly the reason James A. Gardner has pointed out.

HERE is the zip file for:



from the 1980 Warner Brothers' release, "WASP."


cmealha said...

I vaguely remember you telling me about this way back when it came out and I was just too cool to listen. In retrospect, the Utopia comparison is apt and the tracks you provided are not all that awful though the production seems a bit cheesy. The keyboards remind me of Roger Powell which always makes me cringe

FD13NYC said...

I remember this "LP" when it came out. We Todd fans bought everything he produced for other artists. Which he managed to make sound like him. Not a bad thing, huh. One of my favorites was I Can't Take It from Cheap Trick's Next Position Please from '83, among others.

I guess Todd will always be Godd, producing or otherwise.

Hey Carl, how ya doin'

NYCD Online said...

Is it just me or does Shaun look a little like Sal on this LP cover?

Sal Nunziato said...

I think I resemble Jack Cassidy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for quoting my AMG review. I wish it had been enough to get WASP reissued! - JAG

Sal Nunziato said...

You're welcome, James. Thanks for reading. You would think Wounded Bird would have jumped on this.