A Wizard, a True Star
Todd Rundgren’s first three solo albums showed moments of experimentation, but the songs had always been rooted into piano and guitar-driven song structures. A Wizard, A True Star blasts those structures apart. Most of the album features one-minute song bites, loaded with sound effects and layers of keyboard. The absurdist lyrics are both incisive and hilarious, and even when the pieces are more like sound collages than songs — as with “Dogfight Giggle,” for example — you can’t help but be titillated by Rundgren’s glee. While many of the era’s so-called “progressive rock” albums got bogged down by virtuosity, A Wizard, A True Star provides thrills and amusements at every turn. “International Feel,” “Tic Tic Tic, It Wears Off,” “Does Anybody Love You?” and “Just One Victory” are among his catchiest songs, while his medley of ‘60s sweet soul tunes is among his most sincere performances. Though misunderstood in its time, the widescreen imagination of A Wizard, A True Star would come to influence the kaleidoscopic rock ‘n’ roll of younger bands like Flaming Lips and MGMT.