Record of the Day: Todd Rundgren, "Faithful"

Record of the Day: Todd Rundgren, “Faithful”

Todd Rundgren
“Faithful” (Essential CD ESMCD 702)

Talented and irascible, Todd Rundgren has always been a musician appreciated by many of his colleagues and followed by a notable number of fans even if he has never reached the status of a true rock star (he has produced several, however, including Meat Loaf, XTC and Patti Smith).
A great songwriter, guitarist, singer and arranger, Todd is able to make entire albums by himself, playing and singing all the parts, taking care of the recording and production, remaining segregated for months in his headquarters.
Incredibly, his productivity has almost never caused the quality of his music to drop, the only problem for his fans is financial since it is really expensive to keep up with a discography like his, which in addition to a vast number of studio and live titles under his own name includes those recorded with the group Utopia, recordings made exclusively for his Fan Club and even a service of songs available only on the Internet.

Stylistically, Rundgren moves across the board with curiosity and genius that make him similar to another encyclopedic hermit of recording studios, Frank Zappa, even if Todd’s language is decidedly more immediate and linked to the world of pop. Records of only voices or conceptually eccentric are not rare in his production but certainly “Faithful” (1976) must be considered one of the most bizarre creatures born from the volcanic mind of the musician.

The first side includes six covers of rock classics by the Beatles, Yardbirds, Hendrix, Beach Boys and Dylan, exactly identical to the originals (including “Strawberry Fields Forever”, a song not exactly easy to reproduce) with arrangements and vocals reproduced to the millimetre with maniacal virtuosity (in the case of “Good Vibrations” it is almost impossible to distinguish it from the first version); a real tour de force followed by songs composed by Todd where the influences of the artists paid homage to are assimilated into his own language.

The new songs are fantastic, having immediately become favourites in his live repertoire: “Black and White”, “Love of the Common Man”, “The Verb «to Love»”, “Cliché” are magnificent demonstrations of Rundgren’s creativity, whose work has never shaken up the charts but remains over time as one of the most stimulating musical proposals in the history of rock.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical subjects.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: Un disco per ogni giorno dell’anno” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.