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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

A Wizard, A True Star

Todd Rundgren

1973

Buy At Rough Trade
A Wizard, A True Star
Album Summary

A Wizard, a True Star is the fourth album by American musician Todd Rundgren, released March 2, 1973, on Bearsville Records. It marked a departure from his previous, Something/Anything? (1972), with its lesser reliance on straightforward pop songs, a development he attributed to his experimentation with psychedelic drugs and his realization of "what music and sound were like in my internal environment, and how different that was from the music I had been making."The album was produced, engineered, and, with the exception of some tracks, entirely performed by Rundgren. He envisioned the record as a hallucinogenic-inspired "flight plan" with all the tracks seguing seamlessly into each other, starting with a "chaotic" mood and ending with a medley of his favorite soul songs. At the time of release, he stated that Wizard intended to advance utopian ideals; later, he said that the album had no definite meaning. No singles were issued from the album, as he wanted the tracks to be heard in the context of the LP. With 19 tracks, its nearly 56-minute runtime made it one of the longest single-disc LPs to date. Upon release, A Wizard, a True Star received widespread critical acclaim, but sold poorly, reaching number 86 on U.S. charts. According to Rundgren, "the result was a complete loss of about half of my audience at that point." To support the album, Rundgren formed a new group, Utopia, his first official band since the Nazz. Their technologically ambitious stage show was cancelled after about two weeks on the road. A Wizard, a True Star has since been recognized for its influence on later generations of bedroom musicians.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.82

Votes

11035

Genres

  • Rock
  • Pop
  • Soul
  • Psychedelic Rock

Reviews

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Wed Apr 14 2021
4

Why haven’t I heard of this guy before?

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Fri Apr 09 2021
5

My stepdad is a Todd Rundgren fan so I heard this one early on. Also a favorite among college friends. I love these kinds of kitchen sink affairs where artists have the freedom/time to really explore possibilities in the studio. I wish more albums flowed like this one. Makes for quite a ride. Love that the ambition is tempered with humor along the way. Definitely his best album. A tour de force.

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Wed Apr 14 2021
4

Really weird album, but really enjoyed it. All over the place, but still coherent enough to be a really fun experience. Favorite tracks: “Zen Archer,” “Onionhead/Da Da Dali,” and “Medley:....”

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Wed Feb 24 2021
1

I wanted to like this but do not.

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Wed Mar 10 2021
5

Sounds like an album that was written in some dude's bedroom while he was on psychedelics. There are plenty of "Mr. Kite's Glass Walrus" moments (and a John Lennon diss track, apparently), but it also manages the trick of staying down to earth without being particularly dense or impenetrable. Rundgren didn't release any singles because he wanted people to listen to the whole album straight through, which is typically an eyeroll worthy statement, but in this case, I think it's a cohesive enough unit that a straight listen is probably the best route to take. This thing got better as it went. A great listening experience. Best track: Just One Victory

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Tue Jul 13 2021
5

👍🏼 definitely need to listen to more of this guy. he has clear talent and imagination and all of the songs are incredibly varied and cool. the whole album is cohesive without merging too much but still if you listened to the first half of the album not in completion it wouldn’t really work. awesome album cover and i like the song names. come on a 4/named song ?! 👍🏼

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Wed Feb 02 2022
5

I just love when someone is having fun

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Wed Feb 16 2022
5

Wonderful! This is one of my favourite albums ever. The book states that at first listen it could be tiring, but the first time I played it I was amazed: I thought it sounded as if it were made in 1993, not 1973; it really sounds far ahead of its time. The sprawling nature of the record reminds me also of the White Album, another of my favourite ever. I can hear Frank Zappa influences, Beatles, Beach Boys, some prog, gypsy music, and so much more. One of those records where you discover something new at every spin. I don't know if he was a true star, but for sure he is a true genius.

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Wed Jul 20 2022
5

Was not expecting to rate it this high, but this record is so out of control and unique that I have to give it a 5. Give it up for Todd Rundgren, because this is a psychedelic masterpiece.

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Wed Mar 10 2021
2

This is mental. It's interesting and I'm sure ground breaking at the time. Glad I listened, wouldn't listen again

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Tue May 09 2023
5

You want the obvious? You'll get the obvious, onionhead! You are required to listen to this album at least seven or eight times in your life. If you don't get it the first time, you will eventually. This batshit crazy odyssey zooms past and swoons all over you at unexpected moments as though nothing out of the ordinary occured and will make you wonder what was going through the mind of this supposed wizard, this true star as he calls himself. It was the sound of the future then and it remains the sound of the future today. Bedroom pop before there was even a thing known as bedroom pop and, quite frankly, it doesn't get any better than this. Most artists would hang their hats on this album and call it a day. For Todd Rundgren, it was just another Monday.

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Fri Dec 08 2023
5

I think this might be brilliant. There's Barretty Floyd here, Wilson Beach Boys, and much more insanity besides. I get 10cc Sheet Music vibes in places - from the following year, so there was something in the water. The short stabs of 1 minute long ideas also bring to mind later artists such as Fiery Furnaces and of Montreal. Never heard a single bit of his stuff. Recognise the name from his production work with others. Proof you can make a kind of psych prog rock album without loads of 8 minute behemoths (although I like those too). When it does really open up such as with Zen Archer it is outstanding. There's also a fair lashing of 70s schmaltz in Medley, which I haven't made my mind up about. To wholly wrongly use the word, a very schizophrenic record.

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Sun Jan 08 2023
4

In the 70s it wasn’t uncommon for someone to describe an album as being “good to listen to on acid”. This album would be one of those albums so described. This album is so bizarre and he plays very well. I think I’ll head to the pool room, score some blotter and give it another listen.

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Thu Mar 28 2024
4

This was actually really cool. What a trip!

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Sun Mar 31 2024
4

When the guy with mismatched shoes outside the 7-11 who’s always talking about alien abductions and government conspiracies hands you a blunt that looks dripping wet and suddenly, starts to make a lot of sense.

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Fri May 03 2024
3

Weird album, very psychedelic and different for 70’s pop/rock. 3/5 because I can appreciate the originality but probably won’t listen again.

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Thu May 09 2024
3

Honestly, I'm okay with this album being pretty cracked out. The soul medley is just the weirdest. It does have a Bowie quality to it.

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Mon May 20 2024
3

No. 179/1001 International Feel 3/5 (2x) Never Never Land 3/5 Tic Tic Tic, It Wears Off 3/5 You Need Your Head 2/5 Rock & Roll Pussy 2/5 Dogfight Giggle 1/5 You Don't Have to Camp Around 3/5 Flamingo 2/5 (2x) Zen Archer 3/5 (3x) Just Another Onionhead 2/5 (2x) When Shit Hits The Fan 2/5 (3x) Le Feel Internacionale 4/5 (2x) Sometimes I Don't Know What to Feel 3/5 (3x) Does Anybody Love You? 3/5 Medley 3/5 (6x) Hungry for Love 2/5 (2x) I Don't Want To Tie You Down 4/5 (2x) Is It My Name? 3/5 (3x) Just One Victory 5/5 (3x) Average: 2,93 Somewhere in here a great songwriter is buried. He is just overwhelemed by too much experimentation.

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Sun Apr 07 2024
2

Listening to this, I got the feeling he could have made a better album but chose not to

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Mon Oct 12 2020
5

Incredible album. The flow of the record is immaculate

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Sun Mar 21 2021
5

Okay, why did nobody tell me about this album until now?! An absolute kaleidoscope of sounds and styles, but all rooted in a really warm-sounding psychedelic pop/rock. I just wish someone had told me "hey, the first half on this album is basically side-B of Abbey Road, but for weirdos, and then it segues into a second half dominated by a medley of playful soul covers and an absolute power pop stomper ("Is It My Name?") Yeah it's weird stuff, which might explain the low rating. But if any of that sounds appealing, give this one a chance.

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Sun Feb 21 2021
5

So happy this came up. Spend. More. Time. With. Todd.

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Fri May 21 2021
5

Discazo de canciones. Del space rock al progresivo, del heavy al pop sofisticado. Muy grande, inabarcable. La esquisitez del rock setentero impecablemente presentado. Genial.

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Sun May 02 2021
5

Really excellent. I loved this album

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Sat May 29 2021
5

Incredible album! Cohesive, interesting, and boundary pushing. I can imagine how formative this must have been for experimental musicians. I'm very glad this has been put on my radar.

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Thu Dec 02 2021
5

This came out in 1972?! WAAAY ahead of it's time musically. Switching between playful and riffing rock songs effortlesly. I was expecting some boring prog album based on the album cover, but I couldn't have been more wrong. This album was an amazing experience

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Thu Jan 13 2022
5

When I first listened to this about 10 years ago I wanted to like it more, but found it too schizophrenic and irritating. On relistening Rundgren's genius really shines through. I love the fact that it doesn't sit still and changes direction so many times, but still manages to work in some decent tunes.

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Mon Feb 14 2022
5

Quelle aventure cet album. On oublie rapidement que c’est sorti en 1973. Un petit bijou psychédélique/pop/rock/soul. Je ne serais pas surpris de retrouver cet album dans la bibliothèque de Kevin Parker de Tame Impala ou des membres d’Animal Collective. Un gros coup de cœur pour moi. Pièce préférée: Le Feel Internacionale, When the shit hits the fan, Just Another Onionhead, International Feel, … ;)

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Sun Apr 10 2022
5

Even if side 2 was blank I still would love this album. A true star completely.

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Mon Jun 06 2022
5

This album was an experience to listen to. It seems scatterbrained but with some type of order to it. Every song feels as if it was both handcrafted and also vomited out. Either way, it makes for a great first listen through. His voice fits the music perfectly, and each song has a sort of ulterior feeling that refuses to allow you to be bored. Honestly the only thing that I didn’t enjoy from this album was that the mixing was very sub par. Favorite track: International Feel

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Mon Feb 20 2023
5

Todd Rundgren is under appreciated. I love Something/Anything and had heard this album before but never came back to it. Turns out that I should have because there’s so much interesting stuff on here, especially Zen Archer. Will be listening to this again for sure. 9/10

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Thu Feb 23 2023
5

A few months ago, I was introduced to Todd Rundgren by Something/Anything? coming up on my list, and I thought it was a pretty good album. This is like all the weird and standout songs of Something/Anything? blown up into a full album. Like the aforementioned album that came before it, A Wizard, A True Star is quite eclectic and all over the place, but I definitely feel like the focus of this album was clearer than the previous album. That focus was definitely psychedelia. It's definitely the kind of music that'd be enhanced with psychedelics, but it was the 70s. Saying that, this rarely felt like a 70s album - the electronic elements throughout made it seem more recent than that at times. Being a psychedelic pop album, it of course had its token unhinged and unsettling songs, but overall I still liked this quite a lot. I'm eager to listen to more of Rundgren's work. Favourite: Zen Archer

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Fri Mar 03 2023
5

A little bit of Steely Dan and a little bit of Zappa. Fantastic piece of art.

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Thu Apr 27 2023
5

Great album with so much replay ability, and just amazing sounds and songs to come up on this album. Not overall perfect but it’s overall just so fun and it’s a standout

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Sun Apr 30 2023
5

Woah! This is totally unexpected and really awesome. Holy shit this was good. It's WILD and all over the place. But it still holds togeather in this super weird way. Unexpected 5 star.

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Wed May 10 2023
5

This album has an antsy, can’t-sit-still energy to it that was jarring at first but ended up working well in the context of the whole album. Wildly imaginative and experimental, jumping between 1 minute ideas and 5+ minute songs. Zen Archer was a trip. But “I’m so proud / ooh baby baby / la la means I love you / cool jerk” was a top notch 10-minute soul journey that came out of nowhere. 5/5.

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Fri Jun 09 2023
5

A psychedelic early 70s underappreciated masterpiece, the tracks seem together so well

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Thu Jul 06 2023
5

A gloriously batty album. It jumps around ideas on seconds and every idea is fully realised before you can get bored. Imagine Floyd, except with a pop sensibility to never get too noodly or pretentious. Possibly the best album of the 70s. Best track is You Need Your Head I love the divisive reviews this is getting. Either 'this is insane. 5 stars', or 'Waah, I wanted some lumpen 70s pop rock how dare someone try something different 1 star'.

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Fri Jul 28 2023
5

I can’t imagine listening to this album in 1973. It is so cracked and uses so many sounds I would never believe existed in music, at least popular music, until the 90’s on. Some of it runs damn near hyperpop which didn’t hit until the last ten or so years. It’s like a rock opera of nascent musical ideas that would mature over the following 50 years.

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Fri Sep 08 2023
5

Just nuts in all the right ways. Crazy experimental, bursting with ideas, Rungdren makes it plain he could write the greatest pop song every written and then just does his own thing. Engaging throughout, I think this might be genius.

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Mon Oct 09 2023
5

Rundgren's sense of "what music and sound were like in my internal environment, and how different that was from the music I had been making" is pure aural poetry.

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Wed Oct 25 2023
5

Very darned good stuff. 5 stars.

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Mon Nov 13 2023
5

Never actually listened to a Rundgren. This is weird! Really well done. The self awareness and fun combination of styles, the way everything runs together but is still very different. I feel like this is really good. It’s a wild ride in a great way! This is the kind of album I would want to make. Seems like my kind of guy just doing whatever he wants. At least a 4, but maybe a 4.5. Ok 4.5 considering this was 73!

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Mon Nov 20 2023
5

mega fed!! Meget positivt overrasket, jeg havde dårligt nok hørt om ham før. vildt forud for sin tid, noget af det lød som mr. bungle i øjeblikke

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Mon Dec 04 2023
5

Amazing. Listened to it twice. This is the shit I like. Gives an Abbey Road vibe with the Medley. I disavow Dogfight Giggle. Ez 5

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Fri Feb 09 2024
5

It’s fun when you listen to something for the first time and immediately realize this is the album all your favorite artists glommed onto when they were weird teens.

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Sun Mar 17 2024
5

Stellar. Like a psychedelic Queen, but less anthemic.

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Wed Apr 24 2024
5

This is 1973? Bonkers. It's cacophonic, darting between styles in a way that didn't really catch on again for 20 more years. I love to know more about the thought process behind the production of this, because it's delightfully all-over-the-place.

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Thu Apr 25 2024
5

Amazing psychedelic pop record with experimental flare - a must listen for any fan of the genre. This album is weird, unique, and a lot of fun. It just exists in its own space (with maybe a bit of Beatles and Beach Boys influence). Very varied instrumentation with great instrumental parts and lots of cool bass and vocal melodies. Effects galore all over these tracks and a lot of interesting production choices (in a good way). Overall, it’s densely packed with sounds and ideas and rewards repeated listening. So much zaniness, a terrific album if you can really appreciate imagination in songwriting. It really feels like Rundgren did not give a fuck here and just made an album he thought it would be fun to make - and the results show in the best of ways.

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Wed May 01 2024
5

I'm a big Todd Rundgren fan, though this is not an album I am familiar with. His career is pretty impossible to pin down, in terms of a musical label. He produces such a diverse, unpredictable, sometimes bizarre range of genres and styles and compositions, every album has a different flavor. Admittedly, it took me two listens to get into this, but on the second, it clicked immediately. As I've been pondering Zappa and Prince and their similarities (nutso work ethic, intensely prolific, musical genius, forging their own irreverent paths), I'd include Rundgren in the same camp. This album is fantastic. Not everyone's cup of tea, certainly a bit schizo, but I'm really glad I gave it two spins. I loved every song, I loved the medley, I loved the crazy swings from moods and sounds from song to song. Wild ride.

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Thu May 09 2024
5

Zappa meets Chicago_Transit Authority with Acid in the water. What an experience.

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Wed May 29 2024
5

Very trippy album I dig it. The soft, whimsical vocals are pleasant. The sounds are unique without being unnecessarily complex. I enjoyed the flow of the album from song to song. It really felt like a complete piece of work. Definitely plan on revisiting this one.

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Wed Oct 14 2020
4

A brilliantly inventive album, and his use of synths as an instrument (as opposed to a shortcut to the sound made by an instrument) was ahead of its time. However, you'd be pressed to say that the songs themselves are his best work.

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Wed Nov 04 2020
4

On first listen a brilliant but exhausting single LP (emphasized because of a 55+ minute runtime).

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Tue Oct 06 2020
4

Interesting. Haven't listened carefully tho.

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Tue Oct 20 2020
4

Great surprise this, could be a 5 after repeat listens

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Mon Jan 18 2021
4

It is chaotic but a very interesting journey. Definitely an album that needs to be played straight through.

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Mon Jun 07 2021
4

Fun and interesting! Kind of reminds me of some of the Beatles' later songs.

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Fri Apr 09 2021
4

A name I've never heard before. Surprised to hear synths. Shit for 1973 this is quite modern with it's synth-explorations. Via Wikipedia: "The sound and structure of Wizard was heavily informed by Rundgren's hallucinogenic experiences. It was envisioned as a hallucinogenic-inspired 'flight plan' with all the tracks segueing seamlessly into each other, starting with a 'chaotic' mood and ending with a medley of his favorite soul song". Fascinating. Ok I just looked at the track list and I'm 4 songs in and thought I was still on track 1. Wow. "You Need Your Head" is crazy! I have a feeling I need to listen to this all again. Dogfight Giggle woooow lol. This is like some RCE mandatory overtime shit. This is a perfect follow-up to that Zappa album, there is much more "heart" in here for me, but I'm sure vocals help here. 3.5 to 4.

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Fri Apr 09 2021
4

Wow, kind of stunned by this. How have I never heard of this guy? Hearing Lemon Twigs in this, and Jack White. If this came out now it would still sound edgy. Getting really yacht rock with the Medley. Second half of the album sounds more dated but I still like it overall.

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Mon Feb 01 2021
4

Rundgren is another artist I really need to dig into for a longer time. Whenever I listen to his music, I really like it, and then I forget for another year or so. One of my favorite new-ish bands, the Lemon Twigs, cite him as a major influence. I definitely hear that influence on this record. I'll be sure to revisit this one a few more times this next couple weeks as I can tell it's one that keeps on giving new gems over multiple listens.

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Fri May 21 2021
4

I really like the eclectic style of this music.

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Thu Feb 04 2021
4

The sound is way ahead it’s time for 1972. Utterly bonkers in places but strangely enjoyable psychedelic.

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Sun Apr 11 2021
4

Quite classic psychdelic rock from that era, I liked it.

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Fri May 07 2021
4

Psychedelic rock. I enjoyed the flow from one song to the other. A couple songs I really enjoyed.

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Fri May 21 2021
4

WTF this is some crazy experimental stuff from the 70s. The album is made up of quick snippets of unfinished songs and one ten minute journey of a track. Sounds like he was on a ton of psychs when he was recording, makes sense.

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Wed Aug 11 2021
4

I have his album "Todd" from the next year, but don't remember much about it. I know he has a reputation for being uncompromisingly non-commercial in his approach to pop & rock. Sounds good on paper, but doesn't necessarily lead to good albums... Well, this one is surprisingly enjoyable. I like the aesthetic of short, almost-incomplete songs, which allows a restless switching around of styles. There's a sense of humour throughout, and some earnest emotional content. It's a fun album. 4*

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Thu Aug 19 2021
4

Apparently reviews from the time found the first half too weird for its own good, which is sad, because I feel like the album might be even better if the second half was weirder.

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Mon Aug 30 2021
4

A really weird album that just kinda works for me. Is it pop? Rock? Psychedelic rock? It's too long, and as a result probably not something I would return to in its entirety very often. But each of my three listens was really enjoyable and I found new elements I liked each time I came back. With half stars, this would probably get a 3.5, but we don't have half stars Saved: Never Never Land, Zen Archer, When the Shit Hits the Fan / Sunset Blvd.*, Sometimes I Don't Know What to Feel

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Thu Sep 09 2021
4

Nice discovery. This album feels like being on acids, but in a good way (which I think was Todd's goal).

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Thu Sep 23 2021
4

A rich collection of quirky pop songs with a satisfying flow, nice drum sounds too.

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Mon Oct 04 2021
4

Really strange but fun and I treating album

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Mon Oct 04 2021
4

Psychedelic and weird. Very happy for the refresher on Rundgren. This will work it’s way into my normal listening.

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Wed Oct 13 2021
4

A tour-de-force kaleidoscope of psych folk pop gems

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Thu Nov 04 2021
4

had never heard of this album, but was pleasantly surprised by the utterly batshit songs. i also note he's released literally dozens of albums since.... I wonder if they're also as mad as this one?

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Fri Nov 12 2021
4

4 stars a very fun listen lots of stylistic changes. Deserves more attention

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Thu Nov 18 2021
4

I digged this. It was chaotic and all over the place yet I liked every moment? Yep.

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Fri Nov 19 2021
4

Loved this record! Going to listen to it again soon

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Fri Nov 26 2021
4

Experimental, unusual, slightly psychedelic, funky. In all a great experience.

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Sun Dec 05 2021
4

Wow! I've never heard of Todd Rundgren before, which is a real shame. What a trip this album has been. It's random and experimental, and then whenever I go 'Well this is a bit too experimental for me' it goes into a more classic rock song. I dig it!

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Sun Dec 05 2021
4

Another very hard to rate album, some of the songs were hard to listen to, others such as Le Feel Internationale were absolute highlights. This is very much on the 3/4 boundary, but the sheer interestingness of the sound has pushed me to the higher edge of that.

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Thu Dec 16 2021
4

Cool Album, variety of different sounds and beats

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Sun Feb 20 2022
4

Experimental elements mixed with conventional aspects, intriguing listening

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Mon Feb 21 2022
4

I remembered being less warm on Rundgren, but looking back it seems I was about as warm to Something/Anything? If anything, it took me a while to warm to that album; This one, while sprawling, has my favorite bits in the first half. I love the gonzo nature of it, and while it tries a tiny bit too hard it's also plain fun.

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Fri Mar 25 2022
4

Dope. Very prog. Groovy baby, Yeah!

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Fri Mar 25 2022
4

This was very impressive and unexpected. I don't remember if I've already listened to something from Todd Rundgren, but this release sounds really great and that is the type of thing that made this 1001 list worth it. A lot of experiments that sound much more modern than some 2000's bands, but still very enjoyable without exaggerated virtuosic. I liked it very much!! It's not 5 stars, just because there is one only song that is kind of exaggerated, but it's almost an essential album.

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Fri Apr 22 2022
4

I always respect anyone who uses the accordion outside of Polka

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Wed May 04 2022
4

This was good overall. Some ups and downs. I was a big fan of "When the Shit Hits the Fan" and "Hungry for Love"

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