Tag Archives: Todd Rundgren

Vous etes tres belle. Some 80’s stuff.


Yeah, I know–the movie was shit. Still, damn!

This was the last age of the infinite possibility of one great virtuoso dragging the rest of the world into his mind, into his vision, without compromise, without contrivances, with nothing but drive, ambition and limitless talent. And we followed, didn’t we? I always thought Prince could make a hit record whenever he chose to, but I’m starting to think that that was MY standard, not his. To live through that time was a great gift for me.

Here’s another list of music stuff.

1. From Wikipedia:

In January 1969, former Yardbirds members Keith Relf, and Jim McCarty organised a new group devoted to experimentation between rock, Folk, and classical forms. This quintet — Relf on guitar & vocals, McCarty on drums, plus bassist Louis Cennamo, pianist John Hawken, and Relf’s sister Jane Relf as an additional vocalist — released a pair of albums on Elektra (US) and Island (UK-ILPS 9112), the first one, titled simply “Renaissance”, being produced by fellow ex-Yardbird Paul Samwell-Smith[1].

The band had begun performing in May 1969, before recording had begun for the debut LP, mostly in the UK, but with occasional forays abroad, including festivals in Belgium (Amougies, October 1969) and France (Operation 666 at the Olympia in January 1970, and Le Bourget in March 1970, both in Paris). In February 1970, they embarked on a North American tour, but this month-long trek proved a mitigated success, as because of their Yardbirds credentials they found themselves paired with bands like The Kinks and their new classically oriented direction didn’t always go down well with audiences.

Beginning in the late spring of 1970, as touring began to grind on them, the original band gradually dissolved. Relf and McCarty decided to quit performing, and Cennamo joined Colosseum. Hawken organised a new line-up to fulfill contractual obligations and complete the band’s second album, Illusion, which was left unfinished.

If you ever get a chance, PLEASE don’t hesitate to pick up that first album. It’s beautiful, well-performed (especially the bass guitar) and almost indefinable.  When the band was reinvented to include the great Annie Haslam, they had found a more versatile, pleasant chanteuse, but the original band was every bit as accomplished as an acoustic ensemble. “Island” is simply wonderful.

2. Boz Burrell went from temporary singer with The Who to temporary singer/bassist for King Crimson to permanent bass player for Bad Company, for whom he never sang lead.

3. It makes sense that Michael Jackson was one of the first great artists of the video age, but I don’t think his records stand the test of time any more than, say, those of Blondie. If you listen to those first three solo albums, they’re pretty tame, mostly due to Quincy Jones’ exacting production. The beats are effective but somewhat muted in comparison to the later hits that the Jacksons were enjoying at the time. I detest Teddy Riley’s sound even more. The New Jack bullshit and the whomping snare reduce Jackson’s ever-so-clean arrangements to a kind of dance-music parody. “Dangerous” is almost unlistenable, save for one gigantic slab of utter genius.  I’m sorry you have to sit through the video. Forward to 3:30.

4. My buddy Michael makes a good point when he reminds us that Lady Gaga shouldn’t be compared so much to Madonna as to Dale Bozzio. Who? The ex-Playboy Playmate and lead singer for the band Missing Persons. She dressed outrageously, in what one could call “angular chic”. She had a whining, nasal voice, and she was fucking the drummer. Hmm. Have to check that last one out. Still, go Google yourself the band and see what I mean. Madonna didn’t reinvent herself to become famous, though. She reinvented herself to STAY famous.  Gaga is the fake. And until she comes up with something as timeless and heartbreaking as this..

..she’ll be relegated to an Abdul-esque footnote.

And one for myself on a Saturday night. The American master with a band that nobody is able to touch STILL. Singing with an authority and passion that his words deserve. Simple, human, wonderful.

5. One of my favorite bands of the 70’s, ELO, lost one of their early members, cellist Mike Edwards, to a fatal car accident. He was killed when a bale of hay landed on his car. Here’s an article about it, but the picture, of course, is of Jeff Lynne and violinist Mik Kaminski, not Edwards.  Edwards used to solo by playing the cello with a giant grapefruit. You’ll never see that sort of thing these days.  His last word was “HAY!!!!”

6. If you want to feel totally alone and bewildered this week, go find an album by the Glitter Band, the band that backed Gary Glitter in his heyday. The two entities apparently functioned as contemporaries in 70’s UK music, and both were utterly terrible. Soulless. Or, failing that, do what I did a few weeks ago and listen non-stop to three of Ringo Starr’s late 70’s albums, “Ringo The 4th”, “Ringo’s Rotogravure” and “Bad Boy”. Talk about uncomfortable. Here was a the most famous drummer in the world recording lifeless pop dirges, trying everything, flailing away with different styles, until he finally gave up the ghost and began openly cashing in on the past  with the horrendous “Time Takes Time” and its tacky paeans to his own life.  One thing I’ll say for his late 70’s output—at least he was fucked up most of the time.

7. However, if you seek transcendence of a sweet pop flavor, get thee to the nearest copy of this: I'm so horny. This album will make you smile. It’s Roger Nichols, who wrote so many songs that you are already familiar with that it’ll make you twitch like a bag of bees. His vocal ensemble sings some covers of the day, but it’s all so well done, so clean and beautifully arranged. It makes me smile whenever I hear it. I’m so glad I discovered it. You will love it too if you’re open to music that tries to do nothing more than make you smile. Here’s their version of a Bacharach-David song, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart“. Or this tune, “Love Song Love Song“. God damn I love it!!

8. The Rolling Stone Record Guide was like a bible to me and others when we were in our formative years, and I know some of us based our future purchases on the sage advice offered within. However, if you look carefully at the reviews for a band like, say, Gentle Giant, whose discography is riddled with no-star releases (the worst possible), pay attention to the initials of the reviewer. Often, as in most of the prog reviews, the people doing the judging often come from rogue punk or metal publications and were sort of freelancing at the time. There’s no way an album like “The Power and The Glory” is as bad as the soundtrack to “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.  Watch out. Even today, established online rags like Pitchfork, along side less esteemed windbags like our own Independent (of what?) seem to offer up bewildering, useless cascades of keywords and snarky phrases to address music they simply don’t understand, and also praise music that is simply mediocre.

9. On my favorites list is one of the best music blogs I have seen. It’s RedTelephone66. And damn if I know where they dig up stuff. But they feature stuff like David Wallinski’s first band, and two (!) bands from the soft psych era named “Collage”.  Here’s the one I have.  It’s on my MP3 player. I’ll let you in on a little secret. When the song “She’s Just Laughing At Me” comes on,  I pretend I’m in a video that someday my partner Mark Duncan and I will make to tell the song’s sad tale. I do love it so.  It was written by the Addrisi Brothers, who also wrote “Never My Love” for The Association, another group that just wasn’t satisfied cranking out tasty pop hits, striving for relevance. Can’t people just have a good time?

10. I was making out with this chick in North Buffalo named Chris. She was sassy molassie!! She and her mom rolled joints and made apple pie while I sat and watched. Her mother left to get some condomes or something for her new boyfriend, and Chris and I started the dance of the tongues, when this came on her TV, no lie:

One time I was with my very nordic-looking girlfriend on the East Side, and we were gettin’ hot and heavy, while her TV was on MTV, and, no lie, this came on to give me a laughing fit. YOU try dry-humping to this.

That’s all for now!!!!

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Vote Gilbert Neal to be the next Mayor of wherever it is we are. (a series of random thoughts)

I welcome your input and enjoy a good, well-reasoned debate if you disagree with anything I’ve said here. I know that by actually stating an opinion on anything, I effectively slice my potential constituency in half, but for you good people, the fine folks of my district, I am willing to take that chance.

When a Republican (I don’t really know of Democrats who do this, or why they would) runs hard-right to win a primary, and then modifies their position and tempers their rhetoric for the general election, how can you believe a word they say in any regard? And when did this become the accepted truth? And why does the press play it off as such a benign entity?

When a divisive, provocative proposition is placed on the ballot of a state merely (and obviously) to increase turn-out at the polls come election time, how do people still say we’re a democracy and not involuntarily collapse in a paroxysm of laughter? Do people not see how easily they are being manipulated?

Guns should be legal everywhere, for everyone, and treated, legally, like car ownership. Penalties for misuse should be severe.

All drugs (ALL drugs) should be legal everywhere, for everyone, and treated, legally, like alcohol and tobacco. When’s the last time anyone near you tried to sell you a truckload of their own brand of hooch? Would you seriously consider buying? There’s your answer. Penalties for misuse (read:hurting others while under the influence) should be severe.

Prostitution should be legal everywhere, and so should gambling. Most politicians and wealthy people of power use these things for their own hedonistic fulfillment without the possibility of punitive redress, so why shouldn’t the poor? Oh. Wait. That’s right. They’re POOR.

I wish I had thought of this first, but credit where it’s due. Still, that doesn’t stop me from repeatedly singing “One of Us” to my wife and kids, if only to try to show them how vacuous and manipulative every song that Disney comes out with truly is. I’m kind of a dick that way. It’s like a factory, but no amount of factory smoke will keep me from cleansing their pallets with some “Beatles For Sale”.  By the way, isn’t “One of Us” an appropriate title for a song that became the de reguer brain-washing music tool of the decades since? When was the earliest use of the vi-IV-I-V progression that you can find, fair readers? The best I can do is “Peace of Mind” by Boston, but that can’t be the first time.

People who think abortion should be illegal are silly. See, there’s this thing called human history. In it, we know, women get abortions. The wealthiest, from the first civilizations, get access to doctors who know what they are doing, usually in rooms that are designed for such things. Maybe the stirrups have fur lining. Maybe there’s John Mayer playing. I don’t know. But we also know that poor people get them too, only since they don’t have golden rolodexes handy, they usually need to seek out the last resort, which is often Seedy Joe and his assortment of clothes hangers and his pin-the-tail-on-the-uterus-style fetal justice, and maybe she gets whiskey and a nice car to bend over. To paraphrase Goodfellas, “Raped? Fuck you, have it. Incest with an aggressive drunken Uncle? Fuck you. Have it. Condom break? Make a mistake? Not as moral as people who have no idea who you are and what you feel would like you to be? Fuck you. Have it…”  So do you agree with me that women, rich and poor, throughout history, have had abortions? If you do, you know that it’s unlikely to stop. Ever. Legal or not. So all you’re doing by shooting doctors and flashing signs of  some poor lady’s gut-meat in front of frightened, desperate people is facilitating the ever-widening chasm between rich and poor. That’s ALL. And if that’s the kind of thing you think a merciful god wants, you’re just silly.

I believe in my heart of hearts that you anti-abortion fucks are in the “done” column of the pope’s list of “Things to keep in line in order to maintain a steady stream of young boys to touch in the good spot”.

I regret not discovering the music of Todd Rundgren and Utopia and immersing myself in it until my 40’s. But I discovered King Crimson, Stevie Wonder and ELO in my teens, so there’s that. You know what popular music had back in the day that’s missing entirely from today’s music? Virtuosity.

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