Monday, March 2, 2009

Hello, It's Him

The hugely popular Lefsetz Letter usually just pisses me off. Maybe that's the point, but too often I'm not amused. I'm just livid...except for this. I am finally on the same page with Bob Lefsetz.

Can we bring Todd Rundgren back for a victory lap?

I was lying on my back doing my back exercises when "I Went To The Mirror" came over my iPod Touch.

"Something/Anything?" is not my favorite album. But that's not because there's anything wrong with it, it's just that I like "Ballad" a little bit better.

"Something/Anything?" contains the hit, "I Saw The Light", as well as the remake of the Nazz staple, "Hello It's Me", but neither represents the soul of the double album. There's the last side suite, a band functioning at full tilt. The mysterious third side, beginning with the heavy "Black Maria", and then the first record, containing one exquisite masterpiece after another, from the heartbreaking "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference" to the romp "Wolfman Jack" to the almost experimental "I Went To The Mirror".

An alternative to Nilsson's "Gotta Get Up" from "Nilsson Schmilsson", "I Went To The Mirror" is sung in that druggy, half-awake voice you employ on Saturday and Sunday morning, when you've imbibed too much and are stunned you've woken up in your own bed. Listening to it, I was stunned that I knew every word, every lick, and that this was an almost forgotten track on a double album. One which contained no throwaways, that was a keeper from start to finish.

But how come no one under twenty five seems to know Todd Rundgren? How come he had to do that execrable New Cars tour for the cash? Can't we bring one of our supremely talented musicians/producers/engineers back? Someone who cut the Band's "Stage Fright" and produced Grand Funk's greatest track ever, "We're An American Band"?

Not to mention "Bat Out Of Hell"... Supposedly Todd cashed out his production royalty and bought a spread in Hawaii. He's talent rich, and cash poor. And that just sucks. If Concord Records could give Ray Charles a final hurrah, can't we do the same for Todd? As well as so many unsung geniuses?

I think we give him one chance, to cut one great track. That we'll promote the hell out of. Maybe we'll give him two sides and press the thing up as a 45, which we'll give away to anybody who can prove he's still got a turntable. Upbeat on one side, downbeat on the other, this two-sided gem will contain the essence of the wizard, the true star. Maybe we'll whore out the upbeat side to ESPN and employ the ballad on some network television show that enraptures the distaff side. We're gonna give Todd one last moon shot, to let him know not only how much enjoyment he's given us, but to let the unwashed masses know that a genius walks amongst us.

I'd say to do a tribute album, but that's been overdone. Maybe a tribute album along with a "Behind The Music" type show for a PBS pledge break. He's a baby boomer act, Todd just turned 60 last year, his brethren should take him in. And they should bring along their children too.

Sure, we'll do the career retrospective, but Todd's going to create two tracks so good that he'll sell himself, he'll make it easy for us.

He doesn't need a label. He just needs us all to agree. If whole cities can read the same damn book, can't we motivate everybody to listen to a classic artist for a month? Can't we see this as a public service, to both artists and listeners?

If you want to make a case that albums should survive, you've got to do this by showcasing the classic albums of the past, not only "Dark Side Of The Moon", but works just a bit less mainstream, but just as precious. Like "Something/Anything?".

If an artist cut "I Went To The Mirror" today, you'd find him impossible to ignore. And to think that Todd engineered, produced and played all the instruments to boot. But he's looking for bread. It's criminal.


geno said...

Yeah, your right, it's nice to see Todd get a boost even in the back hand way that Bob does. Things like, "How come he had to do that execrable New Cars tour for the cash?" Well, perhaps it's because he's a working musician-and since when is it "extremely bad or unpleasant" to do an honest day's work? Bob, Todd has already contributed to the ESPN collection, as anyone who is the proud owner of "ESPN Presents: Jock Rock, Volume 1" would know.
Besides, I like "Not Tonight". Not only does it have more throw away tongue in cheek one liners than most songs, the guitar break is very tasty. And if the show I saw last April in Orlando is any indication, Todd doesn't tell his audience "Not Tonight" very often.

Sal Nunziato said...

"Not Tonight" was a truly great single, but you must admit, even by die-hard standards, fans on both sides couldn't possibly have seen any reasonable excuse for The New Cars. Actually, they didn't. The tour played to empty houses when it wasn't canceled.