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Todd Rundgren

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Todd Rundgren Runt. The Ballad of Todd Rundgren album cover
2.40 | 59 ratings | 5 reviews | 10% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Long Flowing Robe (3:30)
2. The Ballad (Denny & Jean) (3:30)
3. Bleeding (4:05)
4. The Wailing Wall (3:05)
5. The Range War (2:38)
6. Chain Letter (5:02)
7. A Long Time, a Long Way to Go (2:12)
8. Boat on the Charles (4:28)
9. Be Nice to Me (3:27)
10. Hope I'm Around (4:55)
11. Parole (4:22)
12. Remember Me (0:51)

Total Time 42:05

Line-up / Musicians

- Todd Rundgren / vocals, piano, organ, pump organ, clavinet, Wurlitzer, EMS VCS3, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, tenor & baritone saxes, talk box, vibes, percussion, composer, arranger & producer
- Tony Sales / bass, congas (1), tambourine (1,8), vibraslap (8)
- Norman Don Smart II / drums, timbales (1), maracas (8)

- Jerry Scheff / bass (9,10)
- John Guerin / drums (9,10)
- Hunt Sales / drums (11), congas (8)

Releases information

Artwork: Milton Glaser with Carl Fischer (photo)

LP Bearsville ‎- A10116 (1971, US)

CD Bearsville ‎- RNCD 70863 (1987, US)
CD Essential ‎- ESM CD 660 (1999, UK) Remastered

Thanks to micky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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TODD RUNDGREN Runt. The Ballad of Todd Rundgren ratings distribution

(59 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(15%)
Good, but non-essential (46%)
Collectors/fans only (27%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

TODD RUNDGREN Runt. The Ballad of Todd Rundgren reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chicapah
1 stars There are hundreds of good reasons for Todd Rundgren to be considered a progressive artist.

This is not one of them.

Just a year after his adventurous and brave solo debut first graced the record shelves in 1970 Todd released this, his sophomore effort. Being completely enamored with "Runt," I eagerly snatched up this album without hearing a single note (despite the ominous cover photo that told me more than I ever would have believed about the contents). I fully expected Rundgren to deliver another heaping bowlful of the eclectic and sometimes experimental tracks that he had thrilled me with dating back to his embryonic days with Nazz. Alas, it was not to be. I couldn't have been more disappointed.

I swear, I don't know what got into the boy. Perhaps he wanted to present himself as a "serious" composer along the lines of Laura Nyro, Carole King or Paul Simon. Or maybe he got so caught up in perfecting his studio techniques that he forgot to leave in passion and excitement. I don't believe it was pressure from the label to be more commercial because he was still the sole producer, arranger, and writer and he supplied all the vocals and instrumentation (other than bass and drums) so any intent to be more accessible had to be self-imposed. In other words, Todd has no one but himself to blame for "Runt - The Ballad of Todd Rundgren" being so unremarkable.

The opener, "Long Flowing Robe," is pure, sell-out pop in its predictable, Top 40-formula structure and serves as a harbinger of bland things to follow. This love-at-first-sight piece of fluff is nothing short of embarrassing. "The Ballad (Denny and Jean)" is a tragic heartbreak song that goes nowhere. The brief ride that utilizes an early form of the talk-box (which he identifies as "Waldo the Singing Guitar" in the notes) provides the only interesting moment. "Bleeding" is a weak rocker without much rock to it as it lumbers along listlessly. The macabre thing about this LP is that it was a favorite of the despicable coward Mark David Chapman and the lyrics on this tune ("Be a big man/go on and take the gun/if you lose your hand/you got another one") give me the creeps. It's not Rundgren's fault that such a deranged psychopath latched on to his innocent creations and turned them into something sinister but I can't hear this cut without thinking about that lunatic and what he robbed the world of. Let's move on.

"Wailing Wall" is just piano and vocal with Beach Boys-styled harmonies. It's very simple but quite beautiful all the same. The nadir of the proceedings comes next, the dreadful "Range War" where Todd goes where no rocker has any business going. Country and Western. Maybe he was trying to be like John Denver or something but it is pitiful and requires a quick stab on the skip button to avoid indigestion. At least he follows it with the best track on the album, "Chain Letter." After a sparse beginning where he sings over hard-strummed acoustic guitars his rhythm section of Tony Sales on bass and N.D. Smart on drums jumps in and drive this song to its climactic but abrupt ending. Lyrically it's a conversation with himself that chronicles the writing process he went through to pen this one but perhaps he should've heeded his own advice when he scribbled down the lines "Don't take yourself so seriously/there are precious few things worth hating nowadays/and none of them are me." I say that because the playful, anything goes spirit that infused "Runt" is sorely missing from this album.

"A Long Time, A Long Way to Go" is yet another yawner that's better suited to curing insomnia than for listening pleasure. One almost gets the feeling that he was trying to emulate James Taylor here. "Boat on the Charles" has a lazy groove that comes closest to light jazz than anything else on the record but it's still a letdown. "Be Nice to Me" is a sweet little ditty, for sure, but it's just more of the same mediocrity. I've always wondered if Todd was singing this to his critics when he warbles "so tired, so sad/so sick of being had/by everyone who comes along/would it be so wrong/if you played along?" The next tune is one that I've always had a thing for but that's only because it completely summed up my feelings about a breakup I was going through that year. "Hope I'm Around" is nothing more than a sappy ballad, yet at the time I couldn't get enough of lines like "some happy day/after I'm long gone away/someone will make you see/you were in love with me." (I've always had a soft spot for payback songs.) "Parole" is a decent rock and roll number but at this juncture it's really a case of too little too late. Rundgren spits out a few hot guitar licks here and there but nothing really grabs hold and shakes you like great rock should. "Remember Me" is a 51-second piano and vocal deal that sounds like an afterthought. Its title says volumes because if TR hadn't distinguished himself with superior work after putting together this snoozer, no one would have.

I hate to give the Toddster the dreaded one-star rating but it is what it is. I would be more lenient if the tunes included were of high quality despite the lack of anything even remotely resembling prog, but this is a drag to get through no matter what one's musical preferences are. The upside is that Rundgren would go on to make much better product on his subsequent albums. He needs to disown this stinker.

Review by ghost_of_morphy
3 stars This is Todd at his pop/ballad best. One of Todd's most beloved albums, Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren suffers from only one minor flaw.

There is absolutely nothing on here that has even the slightest claim to being progressive.

And I mean NOTHING. There's not even an odd chord, classical quote or a meter change.

That said, this album is classic Todd all the way through. It didn't get the attention that Something/Anything got when it was released, but it is a finally crafted pop/ballad album through and through and went a long way towards cementing Todd's reputation for an ability to crank out a hit whenever he was in the mood.

This is one of Todd's best efforts ever, and on a site that just judged albums by quality and not by their worthiness to prog fans, this would get five stars. But there is absolutely no way that I can claim that people interested purely in prog should even have this in their collection.

So three stars for Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren. It's good. Hell, for what it is, it's damn near flawless. But if your musical tastes don't encompass Todd's pop songs and ballads, you might not want to spend the time to appreciate this.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars The ballads of Todd

The re-use of the "Runt" name on Todd's second solo album may seem a bit odd at first, but as with the first album, this release was originally credited to a band called Runt and not to Todd in his own name. Subsequent re-releases have shown the artist as Todd Rundgren and the album title as "Runt, the ballad of Todd Rundgren". Apart from Todd, who again writes all the songs, sings, and plays virtually all the instruments, the rest of line up consists of just bass and drums.

Unlike the credibly adventurous, if still flawed, "Runt" this album is a much more straight forward affair, and a pretty obvious attempt to follow up on the singles success of "We got to get you a woman". The diversity here, if you could call it that, extends to just gentle ballads (including a track called "The ballad") and more up beat pop songs.

The upbeat numbers, such as "Long flowing robe", and "Parole" are generally the more pleasing, being acceptable if unremarkable slices of power pop with decent but unadventurous arrangements. "The range war", an inoffensive short ditty, could have been lifted straight from a Crosby Stills and Nash album, while "Chain letter" has a distinct Beatles feel. The lyrics of the latter are surprisingly trite for Todd, as they simply describe the writing process for the song itself. That said, the song, which is the longest on the album at just over 5 minutes, has the most interesting arrangement of any of the tracks here.

Two singles were released from the album, but neither the gentle pop of "Be nice to me" or the soft ballad "A Long Time, A Long Way to Go" found anything other than the most minor chart success in the US.

As an album which will be acceptable to whatever company you happen to be in at the time, "Runt, The ballad of Todd Rundgren" fits the bill nicely. The music is pleasant, inoffensive, and performed with competence. There is though an anonymity to the songs which is unusual for a man who has shown such a willingness to challenge himself. Fortunately from that point of view, this was not in indicator of what was to follow.

The rather doubtful taste of the sleeve image was reportedly designed by Ron Mael of Sparks.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars I'm afraid that the prog angle from Todd won't be discovered with this album. Not that all songs are ballads (even though there are plenty) but they are all very much commercial oriented.

The man has a very pleasant voice and is a damned good composer. This album has to considered as some pop-rock item and not at all as a prog one. Not even related?One can also find some rock oriented tracks like the FM type avant la lettre "Bleeding". To tell you that it is a great song would be quite untrue (same comment for "Boat On The Charles" but for different reasons).

As with his previous effort, one can appreciate Todd's nice timber, soft and warm voice ("Walling Wall"). Fine to listen to in front of the fireplace on a Sunday afternoon. One of the worse part is the country oriented "The Range War". For sure that with such tracks, this album is not a symbol of progressive music. Press next.

But we know that his truly debut is only to come. This album (and the previous one as well) were only hors d'oeuvre which have to be considered as "Runt" works. Still, this album is at times catchy, thanks to the delicacy of his voice ("A Long Time, A Long Way To Go").

I don't like this record very much and the only reason why I don't rate it with the minimum amount of stars is because the production is quite good, the arrangements are fine and some vocal parts so melodic ("Be Nice To Me") that it deserves better (three out of ten more than likely). As a counterpart to lots of ballads, Todd is probably having fun while playing the rock "Parole". It kicks alright and brings some diversity to this album; at least. One of the best song for sure.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars This is the second, and last album of Todd Rundgren with his band Runt (featuring the sons of Soupy Sales, Hunt and Tony). The album, with pleasant enough pop songs, was a step down from their first. In fact the album is so light and unmemorable, it could have been recorded by Dionne Warwick, or any early seventies easy pop singer.

The highlights are... well, there are none. This album just evaporates from your mind moments after you've listened to it. There is no prog. The only really upbeat song is Parole.

I would not go out of my way to find this album.

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