After a career of great, terrible and plain fruitloop records, and a side hustle as a producer which sealed his place in the rock canon, Todd Rundgren is an artist who you either believe is a genius or simply don’t get. (Recent godawful techno offerings have only further confused).
Evangelists’ best bet in converting sceptics would be to point to this 90-minute double album from 1972, his third solo album (now repackaged for Record Store Day) and the one that showed he could do pretty much anything, often all at once.
With three quarters recorded alone and one recorded live with musicians including trumpet player and saxophonist the Brecker Brothers, and future Tin Machiners, it’s an impressively melodic float through Carole King-style balladry, power-pop and even a (sort of) operetta.
Given the majesty of I Saw The Light (conceived, from the off, as ‘the hit’) and Hello It’s Me, the ballads are the strong suit, even if Rundgren restlessly seemed to retain scant subsequent interest in that form.
There are false starts and crazed U-turns, but he’s so driven and determined here that his undoubted dexterity makes everything coalesce, creating an epic that’s as swoony as it is cerebral. This four-LP box, each disc on different colour vinyl, revives its nomadic madness.