Monday, March 29, 2010

Todd Rundgren 2: The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren

While it starts out with a midtempo rocker of sorts, Runt: The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren has much more of an emphasis on slower, piano-based songs, as one would expect to come from the guy on the cover with the noose around his neck.
It’s those pretty piano tunes, inspired again by his current fave Laura Nyro, that stick in your brain and won’t get out. “The Ballad (Denny & Jean)” is a tearjerking, heartbreaking tale of love torn apart by success, while “Boat On The Charles” looks at lost love from another angle altogether. “Be Nice To Me” and “Hope I’m Around” are wonderful additions to the kiss-off canon. “A Long Time, A Long Way To Go” is a trifle on par with the first McCartney album, and “Remember Me” is a brief grovel for posterity. But as good as the pretty songs are, the highlight of the album might be “Chain Letter”, which begins “Don’t take yourself so seriously” and goes on to describe the writing of the song itself in real time, building to an exhilarating conclusion.
Given the Runt in the title, it’s still unclear who or what exactly it is. Only Tony Sales appears on the bulk of the album, with N.D. Smart replacing Hunt on most tracks, and Jerry Scheff and John Guerin on two others. And of course, Todd plays everything else, an idea he’d take to a further extreme on his next album, along with journeys in other directions.

Todd Rundgren Runt: The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren (1971)—

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