Archive for Todd Rundgren

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Supertramp- Famous Last Words

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2016 by 80smetalman

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Released at the end of 1982, “Famous Last Words” by Supertramp came to my attention in the first few weeks of 1983. I happened to see the video for the biggest single off the album, “It’s Raining Again,” while at a disco in Tokyo. When I say saw the video, I mean literally. While the video was played on the club’s television screen, the music being played definitely wasn’t Supertramp. It would be a month later when I returned to Okinawa, I would finally get to hear the song matched up to the video.

As I reflect back to those early months of 1983 and some of the albums I have posted about so far, I am beginning to think that this year wasn’t a very good one for some of the established superstars of rock. It seemed that like David Bowie and Todd Rundgren, Supertramp also decided to go for a more commercial sound. In their case, “Famous Last Words” was an attempt to build on the success of their previous studio album, “Breakfast in America.” However, I don’t think this album measures up to their previous classic.

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Let’s not be too negative about “Famous Last Words,” there are some bright spots on it. First, take the big single for instance. Sure, it reeks of commercialdom but there is enough of Supertramp’s presence on it to know that it is theirs. Still, there are better songs on it, like the very jazz sounding “My Kind of Lady.” The sax solo on that song does blow me away. “Crazy” and “Put On Your Brown Shoes” are also decent tunes. I do like the honky tonk piano in the latter and Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart perform backing vocals on it but my personal favourite on this album has to be “Bonnie.” To me that song is Supertramp from their glory days back in the 1970s. I’m talking stuff like my favourite Supertramp album, “Crime of the Century.”

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Track Listing:

  1. Crazy
  2. Put On Your Brown Shoes
  3. It’s Raining Again
  4. Bonnie
  5. Know Who You Are
  6. My Kind of Lady
  7. C’est Le Bon
  8. Waiting So Long
  9. Don’t Leave Me Now
Supertramp

Supertramp

Rick Davies- keyboards, lead and backing vocals, harmonica, melodica solo on “Its Raining Again”

John Helliwell- saxophone, keyboards

Roger Hodgeson- guitar, lead and backing vocals

Bob Seibenberg- drums

Dougie Thompson- bass

“Famous Last Words” may not be as good as some of Supertramp’s more classic albums but it is enjoyable nonetheless. Maybe like so many artists back then, they were trying too hard for commercial success. It could also be why Roger Hodgeson would go solo after this album.

Next post: Billy Idol- White Wedding

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: U2- War

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2016 by 80smetalman

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My original intention was to post U2’s breakthrough album “War” in succession with Todd Rundgren and Bryan Adams. However, with the death of David Bowie, I felt the need to abandon that intention in order to pay proper homage to a true rock icon. The idea for my original intention came about because back in 1983, there was a chance to see Todd Rundgren, U2 and Bryan Adams together. They were playing a concert in Charlotte, North Carolina and the local radio station in Jacksonville, where I was stationed, was running a bus to it. I would have loved to have gone but unfortunately, the Marine Corps stuck me on duty that day so I couldn’t. It’s no wonder why I didn’t re-enlist.

Like I said a second again, u2’s third album, “War” was the album where they finally got the attention they deserved in the US. In 1983 and I’ve probably said this before, commercial radio didn’t totally suck, so when the monster hits, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “New Year’s Day,” blew me away when they got played, I naturally had to get a hold of the album. Especially, having heard their first two albums, “Boy” and “October.” U2 was one of those bands where I could tell the johnny come lately’s that I was listening to them before they got famous.

What I have always liked about War is that, at least in my ears, it’s not much different to their first two albums. They didn’t have to change to get accepted, (something they would forget in the years to follow.) U2 brought a different sound to the table which many people liked when they got to hear it. The fascinating thing about “War” is that the album has been enjoyed by both metalheads and Duranies (people who worshiped Duran Duran) alike. In fact, they have often been labelled ‘punk’ mainly because there was no other category in which to put them.

So many great things have been said about the “War” album, I would just be repeating them and even now, I find it difficult to find my own words. I know I just really like this album. The two singles already mentioned are my joint second favourite U2 songs of all time, “I Will Follow” takes the top slot. However, I was more than slightly disappointed when they didn’t play the third single from the album, “Two Hearts Beat as One” when I finally got to see them live in 1985. While all of the songs are good, I would have to pick “Surrender” as my favourite of the lesser known songs on “War.”

Track Listing:

  1. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  2. Seconds
  3. New Year’s Day
  4. Like a Song
  5. Drowning Man
  6. The Refugee
  7. Two Hearts Beat as One
  8. Red Light
  9. Surrender
  10. 40
U2

U2

Bono- lead vocals, additional guitar

The Edge- guitars, piano, backing vocals, lead vocal on “Seconds”

Adam Clayton- bass

Larry Mullen Jr- drums

In 1983, U2 finally broke into the big time with a fantastic album “War.” This album was a milestone for the band and fans like me in so many ways. In fact, often times I think that the band should go back and listen to this album and remember what got them to where they are.

Next post: Supertramp- Famous Last Words

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: Todd Rundgren- The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2016 by 80smetalman

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The first time I heard the song “Bang On the Drum All Day” by Todd Rundgren on the radio, I thought, “This is great! Todd is back.” I have been a big Todd Rundgren fan since 1978 when a friend enlightened me to the “Something/Anything” album. Adding to the euphoria brought on by listening to that album, he then released the “Hermit of Mink Hollow” album in said year. If I wasn’t a Rundgren convert before, I certainly was after hearing both of those great albums. Therefore, it was a no-brainer that I would be obtaining his newest offering in 1983.

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In a fairy tale world, I would be telling you how great “The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect” is. Unfortunately, it’s not. It lacks the versatility that I have always liked Todd for. On the two previously mentioned albums, there is lots of progressive rock, hard rock, ballads and even a little heavy metal. “Metal?” you ask. Just listen to the track “Out of Control” off the “Hermit of Mink Hollow” album and you’ll see what I mean. Another thing great about Todd’s previous albums is that he brings a bit of humour to some of the songs on both. However, on this album, the only evidence of that is on the track “Emperor of the Highway,” which is the second best track behind “Bang On the Drum All Day.”

The funny thing is that the first four tracks all start off with a very catchy introduction but each of those tracks quickly turn bland after and one loses interest. They are all very keyboard dominated and pretty much sound the same. “Tin Soldier” picks things up a little and it’s the third best track. Then comes to the two best tracks and they redeem the album from the previous blandness. Sadly though, the last two tracks are a big let down following the big single. Maybe Todd should have made “Bang On the Drum All Day” the closer, it would have worked in my humble opinion.

In defense of Todd, now, unlike the Motorhead album, reading a little of the background history to this album was a good thing as far as Mr Rundgren is concerned. It turns out that “The Ever Tortured Artist Effect” was a contractual obligation album. Therefore, he didn’t put the time and effort into it as he did with his better albums. This would be his last album with Bearsville Records. So, with this new evidence taken into consideration, I can let him slide for this album not measuring up to the previous ones.

Track Listing:

  1. Hideaway
  2. Influenza
  3. Don’t Hurt Yourself
  4. There Goes Your Baybay
  5. Tin Soldier
  6. Emperor of the Highway
  7. Bang on the Drum All Day
  8. Drive
  9. Chant

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Todd Rundgren- All instruments, vocals and production

All in all, “The Ever Tortured Artist Effect” isn’t horrible. It’s just not nearly as great as his best albums. Then again, when you record an album simply because you have to, it probably won’t be as good and you won’t put your best effort into it. Let it be known that my feelings for the posted album in no way detract from my assertion that Todd Rundgren should be in the Rock Hall of Fame.

On a separate note, when I learned about Lemmy’s passing last week, I thought that the metal hating UK newspaper, The Sun, would say little if anything at all about it. To my surprise, there was two pages dedicated to the great man and his contribution to music over the past forty years. Before we get to excited, one of the contributors did write about Lemmy’s limited vocal capability. He misses the point, Lemmy’s voice was perfect for the songs he sang. Let’s hear Olly Muirs try to sing “Ace of Spades.” Then again, the skeptic in me thinks that the main reason the paper ran so much about Lemmy is because he is seen as a British icon.

thesun

Next post: Bryan Adams- Cuts Like A Knife

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: Utopia

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2015 by 80smetalman

Utopia

First, happy Thanksgiving to all! I know it’s a North American holiday but I still celebrate it every year despite living in the UK for nearly 30 years. British friends who have celebrated it with me, quickly see why I do. That’s why I wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving. My children love it so I have had three Thanksgiving dinners over the past week and a half and partly why I haven’t posted in over a week.

Now onto the self titled album from Todd Rundgren’s Utopia. I have only recently listened to this album. Back in early 1983, I read a negative review of it where it said that the other members of Utopia pull Todd down. I’ve never agreed with that and after listening to “Utopia,” I still don’t agree with it. Now, for the bad news, even though it doesn’t support the idea of Todd’s talents being wasted by joining up with the other members of the band, the album is still a few noticeable levels below their 1980 epic, “Adventures in Utopia.” The good news, though, is that it is better than their previous “Swing to the Right” album. Another point of history is that long time bassist, Kasmir Soulton, left during the composing of the album to pursue a solo career. I may visit this album.

“Utopia” opens with the best track on the album, “Libertine.” With the possible exception of “Hammer in My Heart,” it is probably the hardest rock song on it. When I first heard the opener, I thought that maybe the band was back to the glory days of “Adventures in Utopia.” Unfortunately, the album does tend to go more keyboard oriented and while this doesn’t destroy the album, it doesn’t make it great. I was not impressed by “Bad Little Actress” but “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” was rather amusing. Unfortunately, the next few songs sound pretty much the same. At least until you get to the more harder, “Hammer in My Heart.” That song takes things back up a little and “Burn Three Times” was even more amusing than “Feet.” On the first few notes of the closer, “There Goes My Inspiration,” I thought the album was going to go out on a total high. However, it soon drags a little making it and adequate closer and that’s is basically my verdict on “Utopia-” adequate.

Track Listing:

  1. Libertine
  2. Bad Little Actress
  3. Feet Don’t Fail Me Now
  4. Neck On Up
  5. Say Yeah
  6. Call It What You Will
  7. I’m Looking at You But I’m Talking to Myself
  8. Hammer in My Heart
  9. Burn Three Times
  10. There Goes My Inspiration
Utopia

Utopia

Todd Rundgren- guitar, vocals

Roger Hammond- keyboards, synthesizers, vocals

Doug Howard- bass

John Willie Wilcox- drums

Like I said, “Utopia” is an adequate album from Utopia. There are some good points on it that outweigh the blandness. As for the question of Todd Rundgren wasting his talents with the band, I can add further light to this when I visit Todd’s 1983 solo album later on down the line.

Next post: Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band- The Distance

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London