The Very Best of Todd Rundgren
Todd Rundgren, visionary pop outsider and self-proclaimed “Runt,” was a distinctive and prolific producer and songwriter, who developed a skewed power-pop aesthetic that embraced the psychedelic textures of late sixties rock, the willfully difficult song structures of the progressive era, and the lush, symphonic sound of producers like Phil Spector and Joe Meek. He attracted a fair sized cult following with his carefully constructed solo albums, his inventive productions for groups as diverse as Badfinger, Cheap Trick, and XTC, and the bombastic faux-prog of his group Utopia. The plainly titled Very Best of Todd Rundgren does an admirable job of framing an accurate portrait of this notoriously elusive artist. Though many of Rundgren’s LPs were conceived as song suites (Runt and A Wizard, A True Star in particular), the compilers do an excellent job of extracting Rundgren’s poppiest moments from these dense, often bewildering albums. Though this makes for a simplified view of Rundgren’s work, songs like the soulful “A Dream Goes on Forever” which blends the drum machine experiments of Sly Stone with the fey, tin pan alley pop of Elton John, and the gentle revelation of “I Saw The Light” are phenomenal even when heard out of context.