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Todd Rundgren - A Wizard, A True Star CD (album) cover

A WIZARD, A TRUE STAR

Todd Rundgren

 

Crossover Prog

3.97 | 107 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A star is born

By 1973, Todd Rundgren was at the peak of his creative inspiration, releasing a succession of fine albums which were jammed full of exciting and innovative songs. While he reverted to the single LP format for this release (which was sandwiched between two double albums), Todd manages to pack no less than 56 minutes and 19 songs into this album. Unlike the previous "Something/anything", here Todd is happy to bring is as many supporting musicians as are required, including a brass section plus future Utopian Moogy Klingman.

The first side alone has 12 mostly brief numbers which have been sewn together in the way of "Supper's ready" or "Abbey road". The ride through that first side is a crazy, breathless affair where Todd challenges the listener to keep up with him as he jumps from idea to idea. The music ranges from the delicate cover of "Never never land" (From the "Peter Pan" musical) to the delightfully incoherent madness of "Dogfight giggle". The highlight of the side is the anthem "Zen Archer" which also happens to be the longest track. While fitting in perfectly in its place in the suite, the song also stands alone as one of Todd's finest compositions.

As a whole, side one of the album is a 26 minute prog epic; indeed had Todd decided to give the piece an overall title we may well be hailing it now as one of the major works of prog.

The second side of the album is slightly more conventional, but retains the fine diversity of the first. Here we have three four minute songs, a hat trick of shorter piece similar to those on side one, and a 10 minute medley of four old American pop songs. "Sometimes I don't know what to feel", which opens the side, has a Motown soul feel, the brass accompaniment adding a retro mood to this emotionally charged and at times dramatic piece.

The medley seems to me to be a little indulgent, but perhaps my remoteness from the source music clouds my judgement here. In any event, the Delfonics' classic "La la la means I love you" is always worth hearing. The album closes on a real high though with the wonderful "Just one victory". If ever a track summed up an album this is the finest example of that. The intricate vocal melodies of the first part of the track lead towards the crowd pleasing refrain which brings the album to a close. This is Todd at his absolute best.

"A wizard, a true star" is where Todd discovered his prog credentials. The simplicity of the brief songs can be misleading if taken is isolation. This album demands a full hour of your time to be fully appreciated, and even then it will take many, many listens before it even begins to reveal its true glory.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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