Thursday, March 24, 2016
Mensas Working Overtime
If you don't know the story, it goes like this.
1986, Todd Rundgren is hired to produce XTC. As my old bass player at the time put it, "God is producing God."
1987, "Skylarking" is released and most everyone really loves it, especially the inadvertent hit, "Dear God." Suddenly, people care about XTC again. Thanks, Todd.
The exact time frame is unclear to me, but over the next three years, we find out that Andy Partridge hates "Skylarking" and hates Todd Rundgren even more, or at least the experience he had recording the record. (Unclear how Colin and Dave felt about it, but I do recall Dave Gregory being thrilled about the prospect of Todd producing and telling Andy and Colin to just let it happen.)
1992, XTC release "Nonsuch" and in initial pressings of the CD, Andy writes a small blurb about all of the XTC records up until that point. It seems he has come around to "Skylarking," admitting Rundgren did a fantastic job.
Okay, that should be it. Now, unless I missed something in the last 25 years, I don't recall Rundgren saying much else about the feud. I don't think the same could be said about AP, who recently released a book called "Complicated Game," and in the chapter about "Skylarking," refers to Todd as "Herr Rundgren," among other things.
It seems unlikely that Rundgren read the book and immediately booked the spot on Marc Maron's WTF podcast to specifically tear Andy Partridge a new one. (Links to the Podcast are in the chat box.) As a matter of fact, the pull quotes of Todd calling Andy a "pussy" and a "prick" need to be heard in context. Neither sound as mean-spirited during the show, where Rundgren repeatedly mentions being a fan.
As a lifelong fan of both parties, I will not defend either. I am the first one to call Todd Rundgren a prick when appropriate, and quite frankly, Andy Partridge, like Rundgren, doesn't ever seem to be happy with anyone. But listening to Rundgren speak about Partridge on the podcast, I wonder if just maybe his account is more accurate than Andy's. His points seem plausible and while Rundgren does have a history in the studio, known to crack the whip and not take any bullshit, I don't think anyone can complain about the finished product. Of course, not everyone agrees that Rundgren is a great producer or that "Skylarking" is XTC's best album, but neither the producer nor the record sucks.
It seems like Andy Partridge had his feelings hurt in 1987 and has not gotten over it. His relentless Tweeting on the subject caused my iPhone to smoke. It was an epic session of picking nits, if you ask me. And Rundgren, who has gotten over it, really just wants credit where credit is due. At least that's my take. Of course, I've been wrong before.
What the fuck happened in that studio in 1986? Jeezaloooo!