August 30, 2016 Playlist

"Something/Anything" by Todd Rundgren (1972)
Todd Rundgren "Something/Anything?"  1972 (USA)
Perhaps the most important and influential thing about this week's CAOTW is that it was one of the very first albums recorded almost entirely solo: Todd plays every instrument and sings every vocal on the first three sides of this double album (side four was recorded live in the studio with a pick-up band and no overdubs). The only precedents I can think of are Skip Spence's obscure freak-folk classic Oar from 1969 (nothing like hit record), and Paul McCartney's post-Beatles debut in 1970 (not nearly as big a hit as his later solo albums), and both of those records relied on a certain amount of "experimentation" (or "fooling around in the studio") to fill out their running times. Todd's album is not only twice the length, it contains no throwaway material whatsoever, and generated a healthy number of his signature songs: in particular "Hello It's Me", an uptempo remake of a flop single ballad by his 1960's band The Nazz became Rundgren's only Top 10 hit, and "I Saw The Light" which is a perfect early-70's poptune (Todd says it took him 20 minutes to write the whole song). Additional unforgettable Runt cuts include the catchy and emotive "Couldn't I Just Tell You" (blueprint of powerpop) and hard riffing "Black Mariah" (eat your heart out Joe Walsh). In more recent years with the advent of digital recording techniques, "the virtuoso artist plays all the instruments themself" has become far easier than it was in the analog days, though the number who've done truly brilliant things with it (outside of pure electronic DJ stuff) is limited (though Prince made some of his classic records alone, and Zappa started recording all by himself once he discovered the synclavier). After having achieved a Big Hit Song, Rundgren's career moved away from the hitmaking pop scene; his next album is a prog-rock masterpiece consisting of two sidelong suites of nearly a half hour apiece, and in 1974 he founded Utopia, the proggiest American prog band ever (three synthesizer players and a thirty minute song on their debut album; and if you ever wondered what the "underwater pyramid" jokes on Frank Zappa's Tinseltown Rebellion were all about, the inspiration was Utopia's extravagently cheesy stage show). In order to pay the bills, Todd continued his career as a producer of other people's records - around the same time he recorded the progalicious A Wizard, A True Star he was also helping The New York Dolls record their first groundbreaking punk album!
(N) = New Release
Artist Song Album Year Country
Mecki Mark MenI Had A HorseMecki Mark Men1967Sweden
Deep PurplePainted Horsestudio out-take (CD bonus track)1973UK
Synthetic ID Forced Exhalations
Impulses (N)2016 (Castle Face)USA
New Planet Trampoline Nervous Intuition
Dark Rides And Grim Visions (N)2016 (Stow House)USA
Sonny & The Sunsets Moods
Moods Baby Moods (N)2016 (Polyvinyl)USA
Neil Young & Promise Of The Real People Want To Heat About LoveEarth (N)2016 (Reprise)Canada/USA
Radio Moscow I Just Don't Know (live)Live! In California (N)2016 (Alive Naturalsound)USA
Thee Oh Sees Toe-Cutter/Thumb Buster (live)Live In San Francisco (N)2016 (Castle Face)USA
Male Gaze Got It BadKing Leer (N)2016 (Castle Face)USA
Jade WarriorThe Emperor Kite / Wind BorneKites1976UK
Todd Rundgren Intro / Breathless Something/Anything?
Todd RundgrenBlack MariaSomething/Anything?
Todd RundgrenIs It My NameA Wizard, A True Star 1973
Todd RundgrenLittle Red LightsSomething/Anything?
Ariel Pink's Haunted GraffitiButt House BlondiesBefore Today2010
The NazzOpen My EyesNazz1968
New Madrid Dress Up
magnetkingmagnetqueen (N)2016 (Normaltown)USA
Parquet Courts It's Gonna HappenHuman Performance (N)2016 (Rough Trade)USA
The Walking Faces Bats In SpaceThe Invisible Planet (N)2016 (Cosmic Primitive)USA
Robert Bensick Band Doll
French Pictures In London (N)rec. 1975 (2016 Smog Veil)USA
Tobacco Fantasy Trash Wave
Sweatbox Dynasty (N)2016 (Ghostly International)USA
Suuns Instrument
Hold/Still (N)2016 (Secretly Canadian)Canada (Quebec)
Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve Iron Age
The Soft Bounce (N)2016 (Phantasy Sound)UK
Fucked Up Cream Puff War (Grateful Dead)Day Of The Dead (N - various artists box set)2016 (4AD)Canada
Deerhoof Learning To Apologize EffectivelyThe Magic (N)2016 (Polyvinyl)USA
Soul Phlegm The Will
Soul Phlegm (N)2016 (Pyramids)USA
ORB Reflection
Birth (N)2016 (Castle Face)Australia
Swans The Glowing Man
The Glowing Man (N)2016 (Young God/Mute)USA
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