Todd Rundgren. Just seeing the name stirs the ganglia of any self-respecting music fan, and for good reason. His accomplishments over the past 40-plus years are almost beyond comprehension: Hits the charts with The Nazz in 1966; becomes a Pop sensation with his solo work in 1971; crafts his largely one-man masterwork Something/Anything in 1972; and then 180s for the twisted, acid-drenched glory of A Wizard, A True Star. Shortly after that, Rundgren celebrated his 25th birthday.
And the hits just kept coming, with Utopia (as a mammoth orchestra and stripped-down quartet) and more solo work (mostly accomplished alone in a studio). Todd’s also been a relentless touring presence in formats both grandly scaled and shiveringly intimate. And then there’s Rundgren the madly brilliant producer, whose clients have included Meat Loaf, The Tubes, XTC, New York Dolls (he just produced their new album as well), Sparks, Jules Shear, The Pursuit of Happiness and even Shaun Cassidy. A Rundgren production credit is like Rock’s Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
Now, at an age when most men are grumbling about newfangled contraptions and chasing kids off their lawns, Rundgren has embraced the computer age with both arms and a big brain. He’s completely and boldly altered the way he makes music and the kind of music he makes, turning away from the traditional label system and working with his fans directly to fund his art.
Rundgren’s latest album, Arena, was a slyly structured return to the bashing Pop/Rock that established his early rep decades ago, but this current tour is Todd on his own. Don’t doubt for an instant the power of one: There is no experience quite so emotionally charged as a single spotlight illuminating the singular genius that is Todd Rundgren.
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