Todd Rundgren
The Ballad of Todd Rundgren


4.5
superb

Review

by Sabra Net Wore CONTRIBUTOR (128 Reviews)
September 14th, 2017 | 10 replies


Release Date: 1971 | Tracklist


I Want To Change The World – Part Two

If the prior year’s Runt were to be Todd Rundgren’s dry run, its successor The Ballad of Todd Rundgren was where its creator had found, for better or worse, his mojo. Runt, while boasting a hit single with the classic “We Gotta Get You a Woman” found Rundgren with increasingly scarce compositions to work upon and even less time (and money) to properly let the Runt material properly develop with his backing band, consisting of future Iggy Pop/Tin Machine alumni Hunt and Tony Sales on drums and bass respectively. Taking an alternative approach during the sessions for Ballad, Rundgren took it upon himself to record a great deal of the instrumentation that would be found on the record, with very rare exceptions – although Tony Sales and drummer N.D. Smith would accompany Rundgren and other session players laying out rhythmic backing while Rundgren mostly took to a one-man band approach that would become the standard on other records, most notably the monumental Something/Anything".

What his audience, which was incredibly sparse and ever dwindling thanks in no part to a lack of promotion, were presented on Ballad was not a shift in Runt’s singer-songwriter/Nyroesque musicianship, but in the way Rundgren presented himself. In the short gap between Runt and Ballad, the ideas Rundgren put to tape were far more refined and mature than that of the so-so songcraft that his debut record put out on display, often obscuring brief flashes of pop brilliance. No, this time around, Todd went all out – no scattershot medlies, no Zappa pastiches or blatant moments of filler and offered instead forty-two minutes of no-frills piano rock goodness. It’s difficult to point out where exactly Ballad fluctuates in quality because if I were to be honest, there’s very little to not like throughout this record; Ballad from the very start outshines anything that came before it with ten straight magnificent cuts that any pop songwriter would be proud to call their own, most notably the clavinet-dominated lovelorn tale “Long Flowing Robe”, the standout ballad “Wailing Wall”, Todd’s humorous how-to on songwriting “Chain Letter” and the jazzy “Boat on the Charles”.

These ten songs all provide a window into Todd’s ever-growing capabilities as a multi-instrumentalist alongside his obvious lyrical prowess that often focus on down-to-earth topics; yet by track eleven, all momentum is cut off by the uninspired romp “Parole”, a song that would be right at home amidst the wealth of mediocre rockers on Runt but not exactly in good company on the diverse pop rock triumph Something/Anything". Here on Ballad however, “Parole” sticks out like a sore thumb among an album full of gentle ballads and slow tempo power pop, the bluesy “Bleeding” and “Chain Letter” being the exceptions. A bookend between the slab of pop artistry and a meager blemish of a song, “Remember Me” is an effective closer that would’ve been a wonderful two minute ballad, but instead is the fifty-two second epilogue to an album that would begin a run of incredible works of art throughout the decade and into the following as well; not to forget, it would also reappear two years later in an altered form as the fan-favorite Wizard anthem “Just One Victory”, although in its original form, one would rarely be able to recognize it beyond its vague melody.



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user ratings (28)
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3.9
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other reviews of this album
ARushOfBlood87 (4)
This album is worth checking out for classic rock fans!...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
September 14th 2017


15772 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Long Flowing Robe" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3QrqV7TQ8M

"Wailing Wall" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7ZMA_aIBf4

"Be Nice to Me" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6TwmLWsuY4



Something/Anything? is not a long time and a long way to go.



The Ballad of Todd Rundgren https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OhdDg9omac

Digging: T. Rex - The Slider

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
September 14th 2017


17034 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This mean I have to listen to more hot Toddy?

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
September 14th 2017


15772 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You can never have enough, no?



The link to the album is right there, no excuses doofbrother.

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
September 14th 2017


15772 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Also, a (not) fun fact - this was his worst selling record for the longest time, although I don't know if that's still the case. No hits and no promotion, plus Ampex went down under and so he moved ship with Al Grossman to Bearsville, where he'd go on to put an ungodly amount of stuff out under his and Utopia's name, not to mention he'd have his hands all over many albums due to his being in demand as a producer.

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
September 14th 2017


5971 Comments


fine! i will listen to this..

wham49
September 14th 2017


3640 Comments


it is good, nothing flashy, but if you arent a big Todd fan I would start with something later

VaxXi
September 15th 2017


4137 Comments


i love this album

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
September 15th 2017


15772 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

how so

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
September 17th 2017


15772 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

and so much

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
October 17th 2017


15772 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hot toddy, as advertised on the telly



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