Monday, May 17, 2010
Todd On Monday : Honest Work (Todd As Producer)
Todd Rundgren's customers were kept satisfied between the years 1972-1983. There was little rest for the "wizard" or his listeners, as he seemed to always have something in the on-deck circle. If it wasn't a solo record, or a Utopia record, it was his new production project. Those years saw the following records released with Todd Rundgren behind the scenes--
Badfinger- Straight Up (1972)
New York Dolls- (1973)
Grand Funk- We're An American Band (1973)
Fanny- Mother's Pride (1973)
Grand Funk- Shinin' On (1974)
Felix Cavaliere- Felix Cavaliere (1974)
Daryl Hall & John Oates- War Babies (1974)
Hello People- The Handsome Devils (1974)
Hello People- Brick (1975)
Steve Hillage- L (1976(
Meat Loaf- Bat Out Of Hell (1977)
Mark "Moogy" Klingman- Moogy II (1978)
Tom Robinson Band- TRB2 (1979)
Rick Derringer- Guitars and Women (1979)
The Tubes- Remote Control (1979)
Patti Smith Group- Wave (1979)
Shaun Cassidy- Wasp (1980)
New England- Walking Wild (1981)
Jim Steinman- Bad For Good 1981
Psychedelic Furs- Forever Now (1982)
The Rubinoos- Party of Two (1983)
Cheap Trick- Next Position Please (1983)
Jules Shear- Watch Dog (1983)
Will Powers- Dancing For Mental Health (1983)
The Lords of the New Church- Live For Today (1983)
And let's not forget the man's own output.
A Wizard/A True Star
Todd Rundgren's Utopia
Oops Wrong Planet
The Hermit Of Mink Hollow
Adventures In Utopia
Deface The Music
Swing To The Right
The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect
The guy managed to produce Grand Funk, Fanny, & Hall & Oates and STILL find the time and head to write "Fair Warning." (Bastard.)
At my count, that's over 40 projects in ten years.
(There are 14 hardcover books that are sitting in a corner of my living room that I haven't moved in 13 years.)
Todd Rundgren has been known to shake things up while in the producer's seat. He doesn't like to waste time. He tells his bands to show up ready. "This is not a rehearsal." Thanks to his vision, which has pissed many off at showtime, the artists who hired the man for his services, were rewarded with final product that became some of the most memorable and most successful releases of their careers.
XTC's Andy Partridge has famously torn Todd a new one for his mad methods, and then on several subsequent occasions, publicly apologized in various interviews, succumbing to the genius of "Skylarking," arguably the best record of XTC's career. Take a look at this clip from the insert which was included with XTC's 1991 release "Nonsuch." It was Andy himself, on XTC's catalogue:
The side long sequencing of "Skylarking" wasn't part of the band's design, but I'll bet dollars to donuts, whatever that means, that Todd knew what he wanted all along. He used the same method two years earlier on The Tubes "Love Bomb" release of 1985.
I won't be so reckless as to compare Side Two of "Love Bomb" with Side Two of "Abbey Road." But I will say that it is one of my favorite sides of music of all time; a suite of music featuring some of The Tubes' best songs--"Eyes," "For A Song," and the original version of "Feel It," which found its way onto Todd's "Nearly Human" LP of 1989---strung together with funk rhythms, samples, and mayhem. This could only be the work of Todd Rundgren, who co-wrote most of the record and can be heard singing and playing all over the album. Side Two is included here in its entirety.
(For the record, I'm still waiting for my "album lyrics and band credits" which was offered for a SASE on the the album jacket.)
I stayed away from the obvious, Meat Loaf's "Bat Out Of Hell." Though unintentionally hilarious lyrically, I'll go on record as saying that it is a masterwork. It's Todd, the E-Street Band, and Broadway all wrapped up in one. Big choruses, drama, cliches, Phil Rizzuto, guitar solos, sound affects, cliches, love songs (some bad, some worse) and a phalanx of pretension. You all know it and not all of you love it. But you have to admit, Jim Steinman wrote himself some ticket. I've included the single off of Steinman's solo LP, "Bad For Good" instead of anything from "Bat Out Of Hell." I like this track. The a capella coda gets me every time.
We have some early Sparks, when they were known as Halfnelson, Gong guitarist Steve Hillage with Utopia backing him, one of my favorite songs from Badfinger's legendary "Straight Up," Cheap Trick's, Rundgren-penned "Heaven's Falling," which is basically Utopia's "Cry Baby" a year early, and the anthemic closer from Rick Derringer's "Guitars & Women" CD, which features my first published liner notes. (Don't bother, they're lousy.)
IT'S ALL TOO MUCH- STEVE HILLAGE
(I am pretty sure this is Kasim Sulton's first appearance on record with Utopia)
IF I HAD YOU BACK- THE RUBINOOS
WONDER GIRL- HALFNELSON (SPARKS)
SLEEP COMES DOWN- PSYCHEDELIC FURS
THAT'S REALLY SUPER, SUPERGIRL- XTC
LIFE GOES ON WITHOUT YOU- JILL SOBULE
(Gorgeous ballad from the brilliant Miss Sobule. The production reminds me (in some ways) of "Flesh" from Rundgren's "Healing" LP.)
NIGHT PEOPLE SUITE- THE TUBES
WAITING FOR THE WORM TO TURN- BOURGEOIS TAGG
SHE'S SO YOUNG- THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
(TPOH'S "Love Junk", a lost masterpiece.)
70'S SCENARIO- HALL & OATES
(From "War Babies," and featuring one of my fave Todd guitar solos)
HEAVEN'S FALLING- CHEAP TRICK
DON'T EVER SAY GOODBYE- RICK DERRINGER
ROCK & ROLL DREAMS COME THROUGH- JIM STEINMAN
STILL THERE IS MORE...
Here, because I love this clip so, so much, is...
From the brilliant, short-lived, NBC late night series, "Night Music," enjoy Todd, with Taj Mahal (Yes! F**king Taj Mahal) singing Gilbert & Sullivan's "Never Mind The Why & Wherefore," from H.M.S. Pinafore.
AND THERE IS MORE...
For those of you who may not be familiar with this bit of intensity from "Initiation," here is...