Review Summary: "Justifiability is in the hands of the beholder."
Before he banged the drum all day long and was the hermit of mink hollow, Todd Harry Rundgren was not only a wizard, but a true star as well. After the success of his album ’Something/Anything?’
, Rundgren put his focus towards a more progressive and eclectic sound – which resulted in the bona fide masterwork, ’A Wizard, A True Star’
, released at a time when progressive rock was rising in popularity with the mainstream market. If ’Something’
showcased Rundgren’s knack for making accessible pop tunes such as ”I Saw the Light”
and ”Black Maria”
put Rundgren’s ability as a composer and producer at the forefront. Clocking in at 56 minutes, Rundgren put a 26 minute-long seamless medley on the first side, and on the second side, a collection of normal tracks augmented with a 10 minute-long oldies medley, a tribute to Rundgren’s influences. With the abnormal running time for a single LP, the original sound quality lacked in treble and heavily impaired the original recording. Thanks to the advent of new technology, the original recording was restored not too long ago, making recent editions of the album the
version to get.
Side one of ’Wizard’
is the progressive rock showcase of the album, the cream of the crop, the exhibit on display for all to see – it’s the shining moment of Rundgren’s career. Bookended by ”International Feel”
and ” Le Feel Internacionale”
, this 26 minute epic is more akin to a show on Broadway, even including a cover of ”Never Never Land”
from ’Peter Pan’
that whisks the listener away to Rundgren’s fantasy land and going in depth into the restless soul of the artist, looking at the endless imagination he holds. Side Two pays homage to the artists of Rundgren’s past, such as Curtis Mayfield, Thom Bell, and many other soul musicians, forming a ten-minute long medley that is absolutely different from the rest of the album, yet perfectly fitting for its theme. Surrounding this medley of pop standards is the hit song ”Just One Victory”
, showcasing Rundgren’s aptitude for crafting pop songs; other tunes such as ”Is It My Name?”
and ”Sometimes I Don't Know What to Feel”
focus on Rundgren’s abilities as a showman and as a musician.
showed a budding pop artist soon to be at the peak of his powers, ’A Wizard, A True Star’
highlights the growth and changes that an artist can go through in just a year’s time. Quickly transitioning from an album that consisted of straightforward pop tunes influenced by Carole King, experimental recordings, and even a studio tour... to an album consisting of a carefully crafted side-long progressive rock medley that put the artist’s overall skill at full display; and a soul tribute on the flip side, Rundgren had constructed a progressive rock masterpiece. If anything, Rundgren created an once-in-a-lifetime listening experience that took the listener on a tour throughout his imagination, and showed the ideas he wished to bring to fruition. Todd Rundgen truly has proven he is not only a wizard, but a true star as well.