Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Is It Me?



My ex-business partner and I come from two different worlds. During the years we worked together, we made each other laugh very hard, spent an occasional evening or three socially, but also got on each other's last nerve. I guess this can be said for many partnerships.

One particular day in 2000, I played a song from the CD above one too many times and I can say without equivocation, it was the only time in 15 years I saw him explode. (Exploding was my job.) I don't remember the exact words, but the sound of his voice changed and his face became red as he mocked the song and me for listening to it. It became a battle and possibly the beginning of the end. This song really got under his skin.

I still wonder if it was truly the song that pushed him over the edge or if he simply had enough of me and the cramped space behind our counter that we manned 12 hours a day for 15 years. Either way, here is what I think is a terrific demo from Todd Rundgren that remained unreleased until it first appeared commercially on his 2000 hodgepodge called "One Long Year," a collection of new and old tunes that works quite well.

Here is AMG's take on "One Long Year":

During the last quarter of the '90s, Todd Rundgren spent much of his time on the Internet, distributing music and previews of his in-progress autobiography through his net service, Patronet. Hence, the appearance of One Long Year, a disc that collects highlights from the Patronet service, plus a couple odds and ends. Technically, it doesn't have a cohesive concept like With a Twist or TR-I, but that's fine, because its patchwork quality is not only charming, it results in a ragged, multifaceted pop charmer reminiscent of 1982's The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect. Like that album, One Long Year boasts a fair share of sparkling pop gems. This time around, it's not quite as pop oriented or tuneful, since there are a re-recording of "Love of the Common Man" and a cut-and-paste instrumental ("Mary and the Holy Ghost") among the rockers, ballads, and pop tunes. This may result in choppy momentum, but diehards are much more likely to appreciate these quirks rather than be alienated by them. They'd be right to accept them, since the gems are things to embrace. "I Hate My Frickin ISP" may be a goofy rant at Internet service providers, but it has a hook and it rocks, just like the cheerfully sleazy "Yer Fast (And I Like It)." It doesn't all drive hard, however, there are sweet moments like "Buffalo Grass" and "The Surf Talks" that give the album an appealing sheen. True, this doesn't really make One Long Year a classic -- even a second-tier Rundgren classic like, say, Tortured Artist -- but it is a highly enjoyable patchwork that illustrates that Rundgren remains a restless musical experimenter and a first-class pop craftsman. And that's enough for anybody that's curious about a new Rundgren album in 2000. 


What do you think?

11 comments:

Ken D said...

As the song says: "There's only so much pleasure a man can take..."
You have to admit it's a pretty repetitious tune—is there even a bridge?—and then you put it on repeat and I think you're treading on thin ice.

cmealha said...

I love this song. I can imagine a bit better production. Sounds like a demo waiting for a producer but still a great tune. May be the last gasp of a truly great artist who's run out of steam, your view of his later output notwithstanding.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I admire and respect Todd, but I'm no fan. I'm hoping I never have to hear this again. Terrible drum sounds.

Sal Nunziato said...

It's a demo. It's not a finished product.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I'll be happy to give the finished version a listen someday.

Shriner said...

I like Todd, but this just went by and I completely forgot I was listening to it as I got distracted by something shiny somewhere...

I don't think I would have blown my top, though, unless you said something like "all music should be this good!" when you put it on...

peabody nobis said...

Sounds like a movie soundtrack from the 80s. I see young, beautiful people, driving down the Ventura Highway in a red convertible.
Not terrible, but I wouldn't want to have to hear it too many times.

Dave said...

I like pop-Todd, so this song, which I never heard before, made me smile, but it isn't vintage Todd. This song would be in Darryl Hall's wheelhouse, methinks.

steves said...

Sorry, Sal, I'm with the majority on this one. I can easily see how that song would get on someone's nerves after a couple of plays. But the good news is that means it wasn't you.

Anonymous said...

I had absolutely no recollection of this song, the album from which it came, or blowing my top... until I heard the opening notes. Holy fucking guacamole. It was like a bad acid flashback.

TIme has mellowed me, and nowadays I'd probably just roll my eyes and sigh loudly if forced to hear it again. But talking shit about Mariano Rivera still gets my dander up.

A walk in the woods said...

What the heck? It's a great little tune! Not sure you should play it 10,000 times, but at least once a day sounds cool with me.

Sal - don't deny Todd a nice spot in your mixes, man. Many of us can take and are ready!!