Friday, April 17, 2015

"TR: What Have You Done For Me Lately?": THE WEEKEND MIX

"Hey Sal, speaking of Todd Rundgren, what about doing one of those 10 great songs from an artist's shitty albums playlists for Todd?"
-Bruce H 

Done and done, though as I replied to Bruce on the original post, many readers feel Todd's last 25 albums were shitty. So to those people I say, move on. There's nothing to hear here.

But to those game, here are ten songs: nine from 1989 & beyond and one, "The Verb To Love," from 1975, which had to be included because it is my favorite Rundgren song of all.

I would like to also point out, just in case this has gotten lost along the way, I am a huge fan of the man, I respect the man, and it is only his recent forays into rap and EDM that have really gotten my hairs up.

No Utopia songs have been included because that is a completely different animal. (More like two animals.)


Courage ("Arena")
Soul Brother ("Liars")
Weakness* ("Arena")
No World Order ("No World Order")
Hawking ("Nearly Human")
God Said ("Liars")
Buffalo Grass ("One Long Year")
The Verb "To Love" ("Faithful")
Past ("Liars")
Feel It ("Nearly Human")



cmealha said...

You included the one song I liked from Arena - "Courage" - so that's good. I've learned to love "Past" from "Liars" and have warmed a bit to that album due to your persistence. I just can't help but notice the difference between "The Verb 'To Love'" and "Hawking", from his last great album, and his more recent output.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I'm in.

dogbreath said...

This mix will do instead of the self-flagellation I had lined up for the weekend. Can't argue with "The Verb to Love" and I can't comment on the others as I never got yer man TR so they are unknown to me, but I am interested in hearing your picks of the best from the latter years. So, many thanks (I think).

A walk in the woods said...

Looks like an excellent list from recent Todd. Prepare to be converted, doubters!

buzzbabyjesus said...

It's rough going, as Todd loves the ugliest keyboard sounds I've ever heard. I have to tune out everything but the voice and guitar to find the songs hidden under all that production.

Noam Sane said...

"10 great songs from an artist's shitty albums"

Let's make it clear that neither Nearly Human nor Liars are shitty in any way. Two great records, and I'd vouch for the latter as one of the best pop records of the 21st century.

I think "Something In My Mouth" from State deserves to be here. (Not a shitty album either, but not great Todd, to be sure.)

As for "Past," which is a remarkable song, who is Sara and why does she need to get off the train? Anybody know?

Sal Nunziato said...

Noam, you know I don't think Nearly Human and Liars are shitty. This was difficult for me because I can't find good songs on the records I think are shitty, so I had to include songs from records that aren't shitty.

P.S. Shitty.

A walk in the woods said...


I just listened to "Global" for the first time. Dammit, I do *NOT* hate it! In fact, I like it. Quite a bit... for the same reasons I like Liars, which means mostly it's the trance-groove music. And some of the lyrics - I like.

I'm going against the prevailing mood in these pages on this one!

Anonymous said...

I'll take the bait.

Capt. Al

William Repsher said...

You know what I thought when I waded through these tracks? Prince. He reminds me a lot of Prince: right church, wrong pew. The tracks don't sound bad at all, just nowhere near as engaging/immediate as his best work.

And I've never quite understood how someone who has produced some great sounding records, and made some great, very-clear sounding records of his own, has this strangely synthetic/muted sound to so much of his more recent work. What I love about those early albums is the clarity, the music sounded so immediate. Everything he does sounds echoey, reverbed and veiled to me now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Sal! Psyched for a listen.

Bruce H

Gene Oberto said...

I know he's on tour with Ringo, so please forward this to Hawaii. You have just produced Todd's next big album.

Todd continually wants the fans' recognition he so deserves, so quit following the trends (which he so aptly critiques in "Soul Brother") and act his age. Put out an album of the type of music you so respectively chose here. It'll never sell a million (who does anymore) but it would be a streaming hit.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I couldn't say it better Than Mr William Repsher:

"And I've never quite understood how someone who has produced some great sounding records, and made some great, very-clear sounding records of his own, has this strangely synthetic/muted sound to so much of his more recent work. What I love about those early albums is the clarity, the music sounded so immediate*. Everything he does sounds echoey, reverbed and veiled to me now."

*Too many keyboards of indeterminate lushness instead of piano.

So much talent misdirected.

Sal Nunziato said...

Geno, great point about "Soul Brother.:

BBJ- "So much talent misdirected."


Lesley said...

A great set, Sal...

Excellent comments, particularly the two you cited.

I love arrangements and great production, and the fact that Todd has decided that since playback in our age is as likely to be through a phone as a better amplifier it really doesn't matter how a record sounds anymore just makes me sad. I keep trying to contextualize it so it makes sense to me. Is it that he's getting on and still has to tour constantly since his whole economic model (which was based on producing to underwrite his own work) went south, and it basically eats up all his energy and resources to keep that going so he has little left to give to his work?

Since I left New York, where I had abundant access to shows, I have seen him only once, with Ethel at UConn, and it was great. I was sorta tempted to come up to New Hope for a show, but it's a lot of money and trouble for material I'm just not interested in...

Liars was *11* years ago(!), Arena 8. I love them both, and boh of them proved to me once again that with the really great talents you can't write them off, they may have off years or decades but given enough time they will produce something wonderful again. And it still may happen. But I'm not holding my breath.

Still, every once in a while I get the urge and put on one of the Runts or almost any of the albums from the '70s and '80s (and the two from the '00s), and even Something/Anything, and get that little thrill and am struck all over again by how fresh they are, how they are their own damn thing. But I will forever yearn for another new one that takes my breath away, and it may not happen...

Anonymous said...

Sal: Thanks for this.

Where is the producer in all of this? I wonder if some of the issue with disappointing release from Young/McCartney/Rundgren and others, is that they are all largely self-produced and need someone else to challenge their ideas in the studio.

Moer filler creeps in when the artist aims for the the 74 minute CD length than the 45 minute limit of vinyl. (So maybe the return of vinyl will save some people from themselves.)

With the fragmentation of the music business, it seems more artists are going the self-producing route, and I think that self-editing takes some extra skill that maybe gets lost in the blinders of the studio. It’s very hard to edit yourself; that’s why most publishers have multiple readers/drafts before something gets published.

That said, even the best producer can’t help if the material just isn’t up to an artist’s past work.

Michael D.