Friday, September 14, 2012

173. Something/Anything. Too many things



Album: Something/Anything
Artist: Todd Rundgren
Genre: Rock
Year: 1972

Tracks

  1. I Saw the Light
  2. It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference
  3. Wolfman Jack
  4. Cold Morning Light
  5. It Takes Two to Tango (This Is for the Girls)
  6. Sweeter Memories
  7. Intro
  8. Breathless
  9. The Night the Carousel Burnt Down
  10. Saving Grace
  11. Marlene
  12. Song of the Viking
  13. I Went to the Mirror
  14. Black Maria
  15. One More Day (No Word)
  16. Couldn't I Just Tell You
  17. Torch Song
  18. Little Red Lights
  19. Overture—My Roots: Money (That's What I Want)/Messin' With The Kid
  20. Dust in the Wind
  21. Piss Aaron
  22. Hello It's Me
  23. Some Folks Is Even Whiter Than Me
  24. You Left Me Sore
  25. Slut

Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. It's a law that applies in all things but especially in music. If you're releasing an album the final  judgement will be made on the quality of the music not on any feat you managed to achieve in the studio: "Listen to this. It's a new CD by a band who record all their music in a studio filled with 200 bats and a grumpy Rottweiler. They had to record this while ducking constantly, trying not to wake the dog and scraping guano off their instruments. It's an incredible achievement and an amazing feat of human endurance. Sounds terrible but damn impressive."

Todd Rudgren decided he was capable of not only releasing an album but he would play every instrument on it himself. He would personally play and produce every note and sing every backing vocal so the entire album was just an enormous testament to his own magnificent ability. But he wouldn't just do it as a single album, oh no, he would release a double album: four sides of vinyl with no one but Todd supplying any input or relief.

This sort of self-indulgence is an affront to nature and God decided to unleash his wrath on Rundgren for his crimes against music by loosing forth an earthquake on Las Angeles where the was recording. Instead of taking the almighty's hint, Todd decided to raise his middle-finger skywards and not only finish the album elsewhere but make the final side a mini rock-opera in order to prove he cared little for public decency.

The end result is a double album that is genuinely self-indulgent in the worst possible way. It sorely needed someone else to cut the bloated four sides of vinyl down to a slick two and provide some editorial control.  Dull tracks that would have been discarded by other artists making a single album clog up the vinyl and one track (Intro) is Todd talking to the listener and demonstrating studio techniques. How desperate do you have to be to fill up record grooves if you're surrendering time to spoken demonstrations of studio trickery?

If Rundgren had taken a band into the studio, surrendered control to a producer and culled the weaker songs there could be a great album here. He's obviously an intelligent guy but even the best songs sound like they were pieced together in the control room rather than created with any heart or outside inspiration. Avoid.

Highlight: The blues covers
Lowlight: The rest of the side four

Influenced by: Self indulgence
Influenced: The wrath of God

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "this is worth re discovering for sure folks and it's not what you think it is... or is it"

-If it's not what I think it is what is it? Now I'm one of the unsure folks.

So is this something you'd enjoy or would you rather listen to anything else? Let me know below.

2 comments:

  1. Actually just to clear something up, Side Four (from the Overture to Slut), features a full live band, that at least sounds like it was recorded in one take in the studio, with studio chatter in all. (and for the record it is my favorite side overall)

    So do you think that there are any strong tracks on this album? Yes, there is tons of self-indulgent filler on this album, but tracks like I Saw the Light, Hello It's Me, Couldn't I Tell You in particular (the latter of which is a power-pop classic), and even songs like You Left Me Sore, Marlene, Some Folks Is Even Whiter Than Me (yes, I know...), and the Rolling Stones-pastiche that is Slut, with some other tracks like Wolfman Jack, the deliciously M.O.R. It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference could make a solid to great album, in my book. So, what do you think? Any even good songs on this album in your view?

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    1. I have this album tagged to listen to again at a later date. I gave it four full listens but nothing really stood out for me at all and it's length made it hard to really appreciate individual tracks. I planned to listen twice more before I posted this but the birth of my second child has put my listening on hold a bit (and the new Dylan album didn't help either)

      Hopefully I'll listen again in the not too distant future and post any further thoughts I have. I'm sure there are good tracks there but they didn't leap out after four listens.

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