An Evening With Todd Rundgren
Well done Cleopatra for bringing out this enticing live CD & live DVD out –they already made a Harvey Mandel box set (Snake Box) available to us and now another guitar stylist takes the spotlight. Whilst the guitar player Rundgren is much in evidence here, he is equally of course a writer, arranger, lyricist, band leader and producer and an icon to many all over the globe. This release is a run-through of some of his best material presented as an entertaining revue. Todd always looks as though he is having fun in the Ringo Starr AllStars video’s and here he is enjoying the company and contributions of John Ferenzik (keys/voc), Jesse Cress (gtr/voc), Kasim Sulton (bass/voc) and Tubes and Jefferson Starship skinsman Prairie Prince, whose great love of Keith Moon he and I discussed one time backstage at a JS show. This performance is from December 2015 out at Ridgefield Playhouse, CT.
The audio disc has 18 cuts and the DVD has 26 of these to enjoy
Some of these TR compositions I know from versions e.g. ‘Can We Still Be Friends’ picked up by my late pal Robert Palmer and ‘Hello It’s Me’ by the Isley Brothers. Todd was in The Nazz power-pop band way back and this set includes a take on their underground hit ‘Open My Eyes’ as potent a phased headwhack as it ever was.
Setting sail with ‘I Saw The Light’, the band takes a spacey cruise through the tune, such a Philly melody! Did Billy Paul ever perform this one? ‘Love Of The Common Man’ has twinkling piano and a strong pulse. Rundgren sounds anguished on ‘Sometimes I Don’t Know What I Feel’ which is piano-led and emphatically-paced, lush backing vocals and all. ‘Black & White’ has a bluesy undercurrent and a touch of The Who. ‘Buffalo Grass’ has juiced arpeggio guitar chords and a prominent Tubes vibe (he did produce them)
‘Lost Horizon’ has an airy evening sound, blending rock and soul. The rock guitars burst into life on ‘Kiddie Boy’, I know this tune from James Cotton. ‘Black Maria’ is a stormcloud of a song which Carlos Santana will get hold of one day, for sure. ‘Drive’ is not the Cars song but a sonic ride on a spaceship in feel. ‘Love In Action’ is all snare rolls and axe curls. ‘Can We Still Be Friends’ retains all of its heartache, reaching for the impossible in its lyric; ‘Hello It’s Me’ is choppier than the Isleys’ take and is a beautifully-constructed song, deserving here of the best lead vocal on the set.
The programme ends with the guitar slash of ‘One World’, strong ensemble vocal work, wrapping up what is a Greatest Hits set and a sparkling live performance from a surefooted group led by an eternal prodigy.
* For more information on this release and artist, head to www.cleopatrarecords.com
* Todd’s followers congregate on www.trconnection.com