Thursday, February 9, 2012

40 Years Ago This Month: Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything

[Buy the album]

Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything, released in February of 1972, is a generous double album full of melodies so sweet 4 out of 5 dentists suggest you brush heavilly after listening. On the first three sides, labelled "A Bouquet of Ear Catching Melodies", "The Cerebral Side"  and "The Kid Gets Heavy", Todd is playing all the instruments: guitars, bass, keyboards, drums and of course the instrument he mastered most...the studio itself.  The fourth side, called "Baby Needs a New Pair of Snakeskin Boots", is a live in-studio recording featuring a full band.

First, the sweet stuff:

The first side is full of sweet pop songs, including album opener "I Saw The Light" which, now that it's been mentioned a thousand times, does sound a bit like a good Carole King song. "It wouldn't Have Made Any Difference" and "Cold Morning Light" are both songs from a sweet boy who has apparently lost his dream girl. The entire album teems with sugary pop tunes, something Rundgren admits came so easily to him he got bored writing them.

"As soon as something becomes automatic," he told Rolling Stone's Cameron Crowe in 1978, "like the pop formula of Something/Anything?, I don’t consider it creative anymore. You’ve heard of crossover artists — I like to think of myself as a double-crossover artist.”

Still Todd could hardly argue with success. His Nazz era tune "Hello It's Me" hit the Top 5 in 1973, leading to this bizarre appearance on The Midnight Special.

Something/Anything? features more challenging tunes as well. Like all of Side Two's "Cerebral Side". For those who play the "Turn That Flawed Double LP Into a Single Great LP "game, these are the tracks that are most endangered. But you don't want to lose the playful "Intro".

As Todd told Creem Magazine's Ben Edmonds in 1972, Something/Anything? is a record about more than four discs of studio wizardry and a true star's songwriting skills:

"Something/Anything? is a record of experience, but the thing is that I'm bringing the experience into a really specific focus, and the experience is the whole thing that's creating the experience. It's not only a record about the experience, it's a record about recording the experience."

So along with the power pop classic "Couldn't I Just Tell You" you get flubbed count-ins and band members cracking up, all leading to our deep cut "You Left Me Sore" which, yes, could be about venereal disease. Or not.

So my Great Something /Anything? single disc album goes like this:

Side A

1. I Saw The Light
2. It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference
3. Wolfman Jack
4. Cold Morning Light
5. Intro
6. Black Maria

Side B

7. One More Day (No More)
8. Couldn't I Just Tell You
9. Hello It's Me
10. Some Folks Is Even Whiter Than Me
11. You Left Me Sore
12. Slut

What's yours?

For a one hour radio show Todd made to promote Something/Anything? visit Willards Wormholes


  1. I can't imagine S/A without the great "Dust in the Wind". Always been intrigued by this song, as it shares a title with the Kansas song and also that Moogy Klingman (who recently passed away from cancer) wrote it. It sounds much like a lost Todd ballad - it makes me feel forlorn. Also, Song of the Viking has been a live staple over the years - love the subtle ending: "Erik is here"! Well, you inspired me to comment. Nice blog. Mine is here:

  2. "Dust In The Wind" is pretty great. Maybe we can squeeze that in on Side One? The playful "Song Of The Viking" doesn't do as much for me, but all I really wanted to do was inspire some discussion. Thanks for stopping by John!

  3. I love the much maligned Saving Grace, Marlene and Torch Song. Not surprising as The Ballad is my favorite TR album. Dust in the Wind sounds too much like Elton John to me.

  4. If you think Todd's attire on the Midnight Special was "weird", then you are oblivious to the music biz fashion of that era; glitter/glam rock stylings were absolutely pervasive.