Thursday, February 3, 2011
Todd Rundgren & The American Dream
We've all heard plenty of Todd Rundgren's productions over the years. From Grand Funk, the New York Dolls and Badfinger, to Meatloaf, XTC, Patti Smith and the Psychedelic Furs, Todd, for better or worse, has a tendency to make the artists he's working with sound less like themselves and more like himself. The stories have become legendary. Badfinger hated him. So did XTC, but they came around. Yet, there is no denying Rundgren's genius in the control room, creating hits for established artists in need of a spark.
"A Wizard/A True Star: Todd Rundgren In The Studio" is an excellent document that gets inside the artist as producer and features exclusive interviews with many of the aforementioned people. But one record that gets nothing but a roll call mention, is Rundgren's very first as producer, 1969's American Dream.
I know nothing about this Philly band, except that member Nick Jameson went on to play with Foghat, and I have Steve Simels over at the indispensible Power Pop to thank for that, courtesy of a November post. As a matter of fact, I only recently discovered that "Great Speckled Bird," Ian, Sylvia and Amos Garrett's 1970 release was NOT Todd's first production.
Let's cut to the chase. I love the American Dream. The record sounds more than a bit like Nazz, with elements of the Airplane, the Dead, and as Steve mentions in his piece, Moby Grape. It's not a lost masterpiece by any stretch, but it is more than a curiousity. The band could sing and play, and Todd Rundgren's production debut is certainly worthy of repeated listens. The guy was only 21, for Pete's sake.