Fifty Years of Todd Rundgren: A Tribute

todd rundgren

Todd Rundgren is a gifted performer, songwriter and producer. He’s never been afraid to reinvent himself and strike out on a myriad of diverse musical pathways on his own records or as a producer for artists such as Meat Loaf, Badfinger, and The Tubes. Rundgren has a devoted fan base, which has avidly followed him on many musical adventures throughout his long career.

Something/Anything? his third solo disc, originally released in 1972, is one of his most acclaimed albums and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The record is a perfect expression of the eclectic nature of Rundgren’s music. The disc features a kaleidoscopic array of tunes ranging from the pop perfection of the lovely “I Saw The Light,” to the heavy rock sound of “Black Maria.” There’s also the power pop classic “Couldn’t I Just Tell You?” a dash of soul with “Dust in the Wind,” and truly offbeat tracks like “Song of the Viking.” Something/Anything? was chosen as one of Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and remains an influential work and a popular entry in Rundgren’s discography.

The expansive double LP is a true showcase for his brilliance. The first three sides of the disc (recorded in Los Angeles) feature Rundgren playing all the instruments, while side four (recorded in New York) features a top-notch line-up of session players, including Hunt and Tony Sales, Rick Derringer, Randy Brecker, and Mark “Moogy” Klingman, who later become a founding member of Utopia alongside Rundgren. Some additional recording and mixing for the album also occurred at Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, New York.

The four sides of the original LP are broken up into thematic sections. Side One is “A Bouquet of Ear-catching Melodies” and Side Two is called “The Cerebral Side,” while the third is where “The Kid Gets Heavy,” and finally the fourth side is titled “Baby Needs a New Pair of Snakeskin Boots (A Pop Operetta)” The album reached number 29 on the charts, while the tracks “Hello, It’s Me” and “I Saw The Light” ended up as hit singles.

To celebrate the anniversary of Something/Anything? renowned power pop artist and producer Fernando Perdomo has put together an all-star salute to this landmark album. Someone/Anyone? The 50th Anniversary Tribute to Something/Anything? showcases a spectacular lineup of artists covering all of the songs from the album in their original running order.

Perdomo knows his way around a tribute disc, as he also produced last year’s well-received RAM ON: A 50th Anniversary Celebration of Paul & Linda McCartneys RAM. The array of talented artists featured on Someone/Anyone? range from singer-songwriter Louise Goffin, who offers up an energetic, Motown-infused spin on “I Saw The Light” to power pop maestro Ken Sharp. His beautifully done version of “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference,” amps up the emotion on that enduring ballad.

Also featured on Someone/Anyone? are several performers who’ve worked with Rundgren, including Kasim Sulton, who still tours and records with Todd. His excellent version of “The Night the Carousel Burned Down” is one of the highlights of the album. Brent Bourgeois, formerly of Bourgeois Tagg, whose 1987 album Yoyo was produced by Rundgren, gives us a faithful cover of the classic “Hello It’s Me,” while his son Adrian conquers “Song of the Viking.” Marshall Crenshaw checks in with a guitar-flavored rendition of “Couldn’t I Just Tell You?” and Astral Drive, whose music is often compared to Rundgren’s, delivers a splendid cover of “Marlene.” A terrific run-through of “Black Maria” features the quartet of Rob Bonfiglio, Stephen Dees, Durga McBroom, and Stan Lynch of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Other artists contributing to the album include Dennis Diken, Carmine Appice, and Lyle Workman.

Someone/Anyone? was released on February 1, the 50th Anniversary of the original album’s release date. All net profits from sales of the album will go to Todd Rundgren’s Spirit Of Harmony charity, which advocates for and fosters music education and the improvement and expansion of music programs in schools. Someone/Anyone? is a fitting tribute to a beloved record, and the album will also help a great cause that’s near and dear to Todd’s heart.

-John Visconti

Photo: Todd Rundgren (Getty Images)

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John Visconti is a lifelong music and movies aficionado with wide-ranging tastes, from The British Invasion and Motown, to the blues, a dash of jazz, on through to power pop, funk, retro soul, folk, bubblegum and metal. He digs film noir, screwball comedies, classic B movies, and Toho’s original Godzilla series. In the late 1980s, John was a writer and editor for the KISS fanzine Fire. A friend once called him “the human incarnation of an entertainment encyclopedia.” After long stints in the worlds of publishing and IT, he’s currently working in healthcare. You can check out his blog, John V's Eclectic Avenue at http://jveclectic.blogspot.com.

1 comment on “Fifty Years of Todd Rundgren: A Tribute

  1. Todd Evans

    Rundgren is one-of-a-kind, or as his fourth album is aptly titled, A wizard, a true star. If you haven’t read his autobiographical The Individualist: Digressions, Dreams & Dissertations, I highly recommend it.

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