Todd Rundgren
Runt


3.0
good

Review

by Frippertronics CONTRIBUTOR (116 Reviews)
August 28th, 2017 | 14 replies


Release Date: 1970 | Tracklist


I Want To Change The World - Part One

Long ago, I once wrote a review for an album known as A Wizard, A True Star. The fourth album in Todd Rundgren’s discography, the Upper Darby native eschewed his prior image of a “male Carole King” for Ritalin-infused psychedelia and marijuana-laced power pop. If “The International Feel (In 8)” suite gave anyone an indication of what Rundgren was aiming to achieve, it was a bizarre twist of career suicide and startling reinvention – a remarkable refusal to adhere to traditional songwriting standards, instead firing off successive micro-compositions that wove into one another to create a cohesive singular piece, which notably exclaimed “You want the obvious/You’ll get the obvious” as a response to executives and fans clamoring for another hit record, while containing a nightmarish sound collage in another. However, to fully understand how and why Rundgren came to create a divisive record, one must go back a few years to 1970. Rundgren had recently departed from Nazz, which failed to make it big due to internal arguing and lackluster management, and now landed himself a job with Bob Dylan’s former manager Albert Grossman. Grossman’s investment in Rundgren laid solely with his abilities behind the recording console rather than his skill as a musician, being hired to be the house producer for the Ampex label.

The story of how Rundgren’s first work Runt came to be is short – Ampex simply knew Rundgren had experience as a musician from his prior exploits with Nazz and taking a chance on the producer, gave him a small advance to record an album, moreso to indulge him rather than seeing any potential in him whatsoever. Upon delivering his project to the label, executives noticed the finished product had an obvious hit and ok’d it for release, the hit in question being the piano pop cut “We Gotta Get You a Woman”, which would go on to be Rundgren’s first hit record – the same kind many would beg him to recreate in the years to come, much to his chagrin. Aside from the hit single, which told of the woman-less Leroy and the narrator’s promise to get him a girl before proclaiming he, too, is alone in a case of situational irony, “Runt” featured a scattershot array of songs that varied in quality and was stylistically all over the place.

On one side, “Runt” contained a decent selection of highly-accessible, catchy pop songs that brought forth the Carole King comparison, such as “Believe in Me” and of course, “We Gotta Get You a Woman”; a bluesy slow-burner in “Broken Down and Busted” with “Devil’s Bite” turning the tide as the album’s straightforward rocker; as well as the lengthy, yet somewhat aimless “Birthday Carol”. On the off-set, “Runt” also featured songs that didn’t have much to offer aside from occupying space on the record, most notably the mediocre “I’m In the Clique”, which took to the Zappa blueprint without containing the charm of Zappa’s greatest works, instead coming off as overly obnoxious (complete with gratingly zany vocals and smart-ass lyrics) and a waste of time.

Other offenders, such as the bland run of the mill 70s pop rocker “Who’s That Man"” and The Band-influenced “Once Burned” respectively serve no purpose to the overall experience of “Runt” and in the latter’s defense, would’ve been a better song had Rundgren bothered to knock it off with his blatant imitation of Richard Manuel and did it straight instead. However, if there was a single track to sum up Rundgren’s debut, the medley “Baby Let’s Swing/The Last Thing You Said/Don’t Tie My Hands” would serve as an appropriate approximation of the quality of “Runt” – it’s complete with several wondrous ideas, yet lost in its attempt to experiment beyond the piano rock sound Rundgren was already becoming a master of. Only if “Runt” had more time to gel and to gather a certain direction, it would've easily become worthy to be compared to subsequent works, yet it falls short of the mark greatly. Despite its failings, "Runt" is most definitely Todd Rundgren with his training wheels still on, crafting an album that isn't entirely "there" at just the age of 22. Better things were certainly yet to come.



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user ratings (23)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
JDSalamander (4.5)
Introductions aren't easy but Runt arrives with a strong presence. Though not Rundgren's best album,...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
August 28th 2017


15228 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Broken Down and Busted: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcZGrx03ryk

We Gotta Get You a Woman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2sfKwBwPzI

Birthday Carol: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzTbb2xWLJE



He'd really get good starting with the follow-up, but for now, this album was a decent start of something great. plane knows / conmaniac make sure you follow this

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
August 28th 2017


19703 Comments


yessss i'm so ready

SandwichBubble
August 28th 2017


4826 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Siiiick

Digging: Madonnatron - Madonnatron

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
August 28th 2017


15228 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

where art thou plane?

wham49
August 30th 2017


3620 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good work fripp, funny how you reference the Zappa feel sometimes, I think A Wizard has many of the good Zappa feelers in it, I guess very smart musical talents think alike.

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2017


15228 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, I feel as later records do that kind of humor/style a lot better

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2017


19703 Comments


so what do I have to do, listen to this album?

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2017


15228 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Duh

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2017


19703 Comments


ok and then what

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2017


15228 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Listen to each one I do, simply



Site really needs more Rundgren fans

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2017


19703 Comments


oh ok thought it was some elaborate thing for some reason. probably cuz of ur cryptic shoutbox

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2017


15228 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, I'm doing the albums up to Healing or at least until the end of his 80s run

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2017


15228 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Also wtf is that sweet trip rating

plane
Emeritus
September 4th 2017


6803 Comments


I was very underwhelmed by this album and you articulate very well why! Can't believe this is my first foray into other Rundgren albums considering how large Wizard, Star looms in my collection, but alas. Good work, Fripperoni.



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