All posts tagged: Todd Rundgren

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The Friday Five: April 24, 2015

Friday Five : |ˈfrīdā – fīv| : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button in iTunes and share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up the media player of your choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments. The Five: “Hear My Train a Comin’ (acoustic)” by Jimi Hendrix (from Blues, 1994) While the likelihood that I would purchase this collection was high, the inclusion of this cut sealed the deal. Hand Hendrix an 12-string acoustic guitar that is tuned down 2 steps (a’la Lead Belly) and let him burn: A little dose of Jimi does a soul good. “Dirty Diana” by Michael Jackson (from Bad 25 (disc 1), 2012) Speaking of doing the soul a bit of good. “Dirty Diana” is easily one of my favorite tunes on Bad. “Paradise …

The Paul & John - Inner Sunset

ALBUM REVIEW: The Paul & John – Inner Sunset

With a name that knowingly evokes the Beatles and the pinnacle of pop songwriting, The Paul & John set expectations sky-high for their debut album. In Inner Sunset, the fruit of a collaboration between Paul Myers (The Gravelberrys, Flam!, A Wizard A True Star—Todd Rundgren in the Studio) and John Moremen (The Orange Peels, Half Japanese, Roy Loney), they have simply delivered one of the best guitar pop half-hours of 2014. Myers and Moremen, who play every note on the album and share vocal duties, show themselves to be accomplished songwriters  and expert arrangers throughout Inner Sunset, building each song on a foundation of sturdy hooks and memorable moments (the handclaps on the bridge of “Hungry Little Monkey”, the superb duelling guitars on “When I Lost My Way”), pristine harmonies, and clever wordplay (“’77 and the punk rock summer/I was just another of the wannabe Strummers”). While there are echoes of Wilco’s sun-bleached pop circa Summerteeth, Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend, the Wondermints’ Bali and Cotton Mather’s masterful Kon Tiki—and the album will certainly appeal to fans of all four—The Paul & John’s Inner Sunset has a unique spiritual …

ABEP

REVIEW: An American Underdog/Brandon Schott, “The A/B EP”

I’ve been unbelievably fortunate to have the opportunity to hear/be exposed to new artists who know how to craft great pop material in the tradition of those performers who I’ve loved over my musical lifetime – McCartney, Rundgren, Chilton, Bell, Nilsson and so on.  Once again, I have the good luck to hear not one but two in one sitting and on a single EP offering.  The A/B EP comes from An American Underdog, which is the moniker of Michigan native Andy Reed and Brandon Schott, L.A.-based singer/songwriter/musician.  Four songs, all originals and all on-the-one.  The Lennon-esque “Good Girl” from An American Underdog has all the right balances – great melody; strong/fitting vocals; perfect execution.  “Verdugo Park (Part 2)” from Brandon Schott has that Nilsson feel (circa Aerial Ballet) – dramatic build, a warm, memorable chorus and quality arrangement.  There are four songs on this EP; I will recommend that you get this EP upon its release on December 3rd so you can hear the other two songs and see for yourselves how good these …

Here’s Something Else!: Hall and Oates That Doesn’t, You Know, Suck

Hall and Oates are, of course, the poster boys for what happens when hair gel meets R&B. Funny thing is, they were originally anything but polished. Hall had reportedly been in an early Philly band with Thom Bell, later a central figure in that city’s R&B legacy. Along the way, Hall and Oates tried out an acoustic bent on 1972’s “Whole Oats,” art rock on 1974’s brilliantly weird Todd Rundgren-produced “War Babies” and on a very experimental debut solo release by Hall, guitar-oriented sounds on 1978’s “Along The Red Ledge,” then new wave, mainstream pop, retro-Motown, keyboard-dominated dance music and moldy oldies. Of course, nobody bought any of it until those last few permutations, most presented through the gauzy sheen of MTV. H&O, even now, are best known for affixing synthesizers to an already established blue-eyed soul sound. That means we have to hate them? OK, we tried. (“One on One,” a tepid basketball metaphor taken to teeth-splintering extremes, certainly tried the patience.) But, in the end, well, no can do.

The Friday Linkfest: 1/21/11

The Web moves fast. Here are our favorite links from the week that was: The age of extreme offshore oil is just beginning [Discover] Apple’s top all-time apps [TechCrunch] Social Distortion at Daytrotter [Daytrotter] Nicki Minaj, Lil B, Kaynye West, Rick Ross: The triumph of the weirdo rapper [Slate] R.I.P. Don Kirshner [AV Club] In appreciation: Nile Rodgers [Popblerd!] The top 40 ’80s one-hit wonders [Culture Brats] THE ZODIHOAX: System of basing life decisions on spatial arrangement of distant stars not flawed after all [Jeff Vrabel]

Soul Serenade: Laura Nyro, “Timer”

I have written extensively about Laura Nyro for Popdose. There was my review of the splendid Iconoclassic reissue of her live album Season of Light, and more recently, a review of One Child Born, a one-woman show devoted to Nyro’s music. The bottom line is that I have been a fan of her music since the ’60s, and yet somehow fan doesn’t seem like a strong enough word. I’ve turned to Laura Nyro on dark days for more than 40 years, and I’ve always found comfort and compassion there. There are few people whose music has meant more to me over the years. Today I bring you Laura Nyro’s song “Timer”. I first heard it when it appeared on her magnificent 1968 album Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. Though it begins with a fierce proclamation of love for the title character, it soon morphs into a perfect example of the classic soul shuffle that Nyro made famous. If you asked me to choose a favorite Nyro song, I’d have trouble selecting one, but “Timer” would …

Cratedigger: Todd Rundgren, “Back to the Bars”

It was 1969. One warm summer night I found myself parked on a quiet street not far from my Atlantic City home. The girl’s name was Dorothy. We could never seem to find a place to be alone, so the car was our refuge. The radio was playing softly. You know how certain songs just catch your ear the first time you hear them? That night, the song was the original version of “Hello It’s Me” by Nazz. No, not that uptempo swinging remake that was a hit for Todd Rundgren a few years later, but the slow, gorgeous original. If you haven’t heard it, make it a point to do so soon. At any rate the single didn’t do much. It started life as the B-side to “Open My Eyes,” was flipped over by a DJ in Boston, and eventually made it to #66 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. If Atlantic City hadn’t been in the Philadelphia radio market, and the Nazz hadn’t been a Philadelphia band, I might never have heard the …

Popdose Flashback ’90: Jill Sobule, “Things Here Are Different”

I first became a fan of Jill Sobule’s after hearing her 1997 album, Happy Town. Though I was familiar with her work via her earlier singles, “I Kissed a Girl” which appears on her second album, Jill Sobule and “Supermodel,” which became a hit after being featured in Amy Heckerling’s 1995 film, Clueless, I hadn’t really paid much attention to her. But after listening to Happy Town on a listening station at a local record store, and hearing songs like “Bitter,” “Barren Egg” and “When My Ship Comes In,” I was hooked on her sardonic wit, catchy melodies and gorgeous voice. After purchasing, and becoming obsessed with, Happy Town, I immediately started collecting the rest of her discography and I was pleasantly surprised by her 1990 debut, Things Here Are Different. For the most part, this album wasn’t like than anything I’d heard on Happy Town, Jill Sobule or Pink Pearl, the album that had just been released when I became a Sobule fan.

Bootleg City: A New, Radical Concept for the Future

There’s been a lot of negativity here in Bootleg City the past few months. From last fall’s mayoral election to the criticism of my extended vacation and the controversy over my personal life and its private parts, more mud has been slung back and forth than in all two weeks of the Susan B. Anthony Memorial Mud Wrestling Arena’s brief (but glorious) existence back in ’78. But enough’s enough. After a while all that negativity starts to poison your insides, and I don’t want alcohol to get jealous or think it’s being replaced. From now on there will be no more sniping and bickering and bitching and moaning here in Bootleg City. Let the word go forth! As an act of good faith, I’ve taken down Shit My Mortal Enemy Says, my popular Twitter feed of favorite Matt Wardlaw sayings. I’ve also opened up the online Mayor Robert W. Cass Mayoral Library for Research and Political Studies, where citizens can access all of my online correspondence from 1996 to the present and decide for themselves …

Cratedigger: Runt, “Runt”

Todd Rundgren is one of rock’s great auteurs. Along with artists like Emmit Rhodes, Paul McCartney, and Prince, Rundgren has the ability to put together entire albums on his own. He writes the songs, plays nearly all the instruments, and produces his albums. The 1970 album Runt is often thought to be Rundgren’s first solo album because later reissues identify it as a Rundgren album, but the fact is that at the time of the original Ampex release, Runt was a band consisting of Rundgren along with Hunt Sales on bass and Tony Sales on drums. Still, Rundgren wrote all the songs, produced the album, and played all the instruments aside from bass and drums (and, I suspect, the strings and horns). The album distinctly shows the three sides of Rundgren’s genius. There are guitar rave-ups (Rundgren has always been underrated as a guitar player) like the opening “Broke Down and Busted,” “Who’s That Man,” and “Devil’s Bite.” Then there are the ineffably sad, beautiful ballads for which Rundgren has become a favorite of many. …

Sugar Water: The Best Album of the Decade

Per Second, Per Second, Per Second … Every Second (Aware/Columbia), the 2003 album by Boston-area band Wheat, is the best album of the decade. Now you know. This is a totally subjective opinion, of course. I haven’t listened to every album that was released between January 1, 2000, and today. I’m not a professional music writer or critic. I’m not even one of those audio omnivores whose ears devour everything they come across, though in the past ten years, the vaguely named decade some call “the aughts,” it’s become easy for anyone with access to the Internet to consume more music than ever before. “File sharing” via programs like Napster was still in its infancy in January 2000; the record industry had no need to panic yet. But one year later Apple’s iTunes software had arrived, and soon its iPods were irrevocably changing people’s listening habits. Then CD sales plummeted, and blogs giving away free music (entire albums — entire discographies, even!) multiplied, and record stores disappeared at an alarming rate, and now, ten years …