Todd Rundgren is an American multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer. He started his career in Nazz, a psychedelic garage rock band from the sixties. He was hailed as a pop star in the early stage of his solo career, supported by the certified gold solo double-LP Something / Anything? (1972). During his career he recorded a diverse range of albums as a solo artist. Albums like A Wizard, A True Star (1973), Todd (1974), Initiation (1975), Faithful (1976), The Hermit Of Mink Hollow (1978) and Healing (1981) are all excellent. You'll probably find them in the collection of many prog heads just like the albums he recorded with his band Utopia. Especially Ra and Oops! Wrong Planet (both 1977) contain a high level of progressive rock. He has also been a prolific producer and engineer for other musicians.
During the seventies and the eighties, Rundgren engineered or produced many remarkable albums for The Tubes, The Cars, Badfinger, The Band, Grand Funk Railroad, Meat Loaf and XTC. His best-known songs include Can We Still Be Friends, Hello It's Me and I Saw The Light, which are still frequently played on classic rock radio stations. Bang The Drum All Day can be heard in many sports stadiums, commercials and movie trailers. Although lesser known a song like Couldn't I Just Tell You had a major influence on artists in the power pop genre.
In 2010 Rundgren went on tour to perform the complete versions of his solo albums Todd and Healing. His band consisted of Kasim Sulton (Utopia, bass), Greg Hawkes (The Cars, keyboards), Prairie Prince (The Tubes, drums), Jesse Gress, the editor of Guitar Player Magazine (guitar), Bobby Strickland (saxophone) and a full choir. The Todd / Healing tour included only six sold-out shows which were promoted by Rundgren Radio, the weekly Internet Todd-centric radio show. Todd and his fellow-musicians performed these two classic albums for the first time in its entirety. All shows were done in an intimate setting with Rundgren performing the albums track by track. In September 2010, he performed in Akron (Ohio), followed by concerts in Muskegon (Michigan), Indianapolis (Indiana), St. Louis (Missouri), Glenside (Pennsylvania) and Morristown (New Jersey). A large LED-display and lasers were used throughout the shows with Rundgren and its band extravagantly dressed. One of those live performances was recorded on September 14, 2010. These recordings are now separately released on CD and DVD, but also as a double disc release featuring CD and DVD. It's also good to know that both Todd and Healing are released as two separate shows. This means that you can buy all these four items separately.
Originally Todd was a double album released in February 1974. It was an extension to his experiments on A Wizard, A True Star. It showed his growing interest in the synthesizer, and its ability to expand the textures of rock music. A large part of the album is intensely experimental, but it also contains some pop songs. Rundgren experimented with the heavy progressive synth sound that he would take further in his later band Utopia. Therefore people who like Utopia will get into the music of Todd as well. The live version is pretty much the same as the original studio version. The only difference is that the live version misses one track and from time to time the sound is slightly more aggressive. Maybe that's logical if you know that Rundgren performed with two guitar players on stage. The missing track is In And Out The Chakras We Go, but even without that piece the album is worthwhile to watch and to listen to. As a nice extra the DVD includes a seventy-minute conversation between Rundgren and the audience. While sitting on stage he's answering all kinds of questions from the people present at the venue. He ends by saying: 'not the size of a dick matters, but the size of the balls!'
Healing was originally released in 1981. Spirituality and the human condition are the main themes, subjects that he touched on many times in his earlier works, but never with the consistency exhibited here, as every track explores a different aspect. Also the live version of Healing is about the same as the studio version. This time the songs are a bit more stretched in length by including additional parts. Just as for Todd the live version sounds a bit harder and more aggressive. The original vinyl release included a 7-inch bonus 45-rpm single featuring Time Heals and Tiny Demons. These tracks are unlisted on the album sleeve, but were included at the end of later CD releases. They're also performed on the live version of Healing. Another addition on this live album is Sons Of 1984, which you can also enjoy on Todd. This release is worthwhile watching and listening on DVD and CD as well. The DVD features a ninety-minute conversation and again he answers questions from the people in the audience. It's nice to hear that the microphone is still switched on when the host and Mr. Rundgren walk off stage talking to each other about the questions he had to answer.
Both releases are an absolute must for people who enjoy the music of Todd Rundgren. But even if you don't like his music that much, I think there's enough to be seen and heard. Unfortunately the DVDs were only released for region 1. This means that they were made for the American market. A region free release would have prevented me from watching these DVDs on my computer. I prefer to have them played in my DVD-player because only then I could have heard the 5.1 surround sound. But anyway, thumbs up for Todd Rundgren and his band for these outstanding releases!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?
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