How about a little fanfare, fans? Not only did we get a first look at Rundgren’s Johnson EP, how it’s doing sales wise and the Tour for it during our last blog, but this week we are privy to some dynamite EXCLUSIVE info about a NEW promotional tour. But the NEW tour is promoting OLD albums. Albums? Plural? Let’s look back to look ahead!
Those of you familiar with my blog know that I cover progressive bands, leaning heavily towards Todd Rundgren (hey, I blog what I know…), King Crimson and other oddball stuff. This bit of info comes from a very inside source to the Rundgren camp, and it is right up my weirdo alley!!!
It seems that this year’s Rundgren Radio Birthday Bash (the event that sprawled into a tour last year, and that found itself nestled among some mighty positive reviews when all was said and done) is giving rise to another such opportunity for outrageous fun!
Let us review before we preview: Last year’s birthday bash was the A Wizard A True Star show which featured three-quarters of Utopia reuniting as the opening act. Utopia Keyboardist Roger Powell had been asked to perform keyboard parts for the entire AWATS album (which is quite the undertaking, get the album and you will know!). Since Utopia Bassist Kasim Sulton was still Rundgren’s touring bassist, with Rundgren that made three. The fourth, Willie Wilcox was unavailable to tour, so longtime Rundgren / Tubes drummer Prairie Prince was tapped to play Wilcox’s part. But without Wilcox, Utopia purists (like me) would say it was NOT a true Utopia reunion. But it was damn close enough!!!
Then after a brief intermission (during which time, the sparse warm-up instrumentation was struck from the stage) for the second act, two white bandstands were revealed, containing guitar, bass and drums on one white island, keyboards and winds were contained on the other. Rundgren emerged in costume after outrageous costume, and he and his six-piece band (with spousal wardrobist) put on an AMAZING show. When I was finished with it, I knew this would be one of those times I would remember for the rest of my life.
Leave it to Rundgren Radio to outdo themselves by redoing themselves!!!
Yes, there has been a lot of double talk, double talk about new is old, blah blah, but this is how it shakes out: Yes, Rundgren Radio is again holding a Rundgren Radio Birthday Bash, and the scoop news is that this year’s Rundgren Radio Bash (or for those of you in the know will refer to as RR Bash 3) will again, be held in Akron Ohio!!! More news for those of you who might not be aware, this year’s Bash shows will be live performances of the albums Todd and Healing! When originally released in 1974, Todd was a groundbreaking LP (vinyl, remember vinyl?) in that it’s running time was generous, generous to the point of groove-cramming, which was the practice of making the actual pressing grooves narrower in order to accommodate longer playing times. Vinyl purists will say this was often detrimental to the album’s audio quality. One of his subsequent albums, Initiation pushed this envelope to such a point that a disclaimer was included by Rundgren more or less urging that if the audience was not satisfied by the audio quality, they could find those missing frequencies by “turning it up!”
Now THAT’S rock and roll!!!
But the Todd album had other unique qualities (besides the brilliant music on those platters), one being that a reproduction of the front cover photo was represented on a poster inside the packaging. Wait, a minute, you say, that’s not so original!!! No, if that’s all there was to it. But the poster’s image was not a straight reproduction, but the image was generated by varying the ink’s darkness when printing the names of each and every fan who replied by sending back a postcard that was included in the previous album, AWATS. The last track, “Sons Of 1984” was unique in that Rundgren included live audience recordings of the audience who were asked to sing along during the song’s chorus. Panned to one side, was the audience from a West Coast venue, the other side was the audience from an East Coast venue. I do know the East Coast venue as being Wolman Rink in NYC as my sister was one of the many voices on the East Coast track.
Todd is my favorite Rundgren album. It has a tremendous balance of pop sensibility and electronic (as well as other) weirdness. The second half of this new show is the entire album Healing. This album was released in 1981. It has some unique qualities of it’s own. Side one of this album details the story of the trials and tribulations of one who is anointed with the power to heal the body. From the time of this revelation to the healer’s father to the time the healer has healed his last, several gorgeous, beautiful, even a humorous tune about exploitation, all detail the life and times from the point of view of those around the healer and healer himself. Side two is one track. One track, three parts. Side two details not the healer, but the healing. Rundgren sings the listener through a psychic healing experience, as though he is trying to heal the listener.
Give that up, we’re too far-gone!
Now if nearly three sides of continuous music isn’t enough, when Rundgren submitted Healing to then-label Warner Brothers, they said “We can’t hear a single on this” (which was a total load as “Compassion” from side one was as commercial as anything). Rundgren, an expert at this reaction by now, recorded two more songs. But instead of holding up the pressing of the album, they added the two songs, “Tiny Demons” and the song who’s video was the seventh ever played on MTV, “Time Heals” on an additional 7” vinyl included in the packaging. “Tiny Demons” became a live staple for Rundgren in later years.
The pairing of these two albums, the possibilities for this show to turn into one of those “remember-it-for-the-rest-of-your-life” occurrences, and the reputation Rundgren Radio has built by presenting phenomenal show after show…
You’d be a fool to miss this! Get your tickets now!!
Todd Rundgren Tickets