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Runt [Deluxe Edition]
     

Runt [Deluxe Edition]

by Todd Rundgren
 

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Reluctant to start a full-fledged solo career after leaving the Nazz, Todd Rundgren formed Runt, a band that was no more than a front for what was in effect a solo project. He later assembled a touring band under that name, but at the time Rundgren recorded Runt, he essentially was the band, playing the majority of the

Overview

Reluctant to start a full-fledged solo career after leaving the Nazz, Todd Rundgren formed Runt, a band that was no more than a front for what was in effect a solo project. He later assembled a touring band under that name, but at the time Rundgren recorded Runt, he essentially was the band, playing the majority of the instruments apart from the ever-shifting rhythm section (which usually consisted of either the Band's Rick Danko and Levon Helm, or Hunt and Tony Sales, who would later back Iggy Pop and David Bowie). Such isolationism lends Runt its unique atmosphere -- it is the insular work of a fiercely talented artist finally given the opportunity to pursue his off-kilter musical vision. From the moment the slow, bluesy psychedelic grind of "Broke Down and Busted" starts the album, it's apparent that Rundgren could never have made Runt with the Nazz -- and that's before the introspective ballads or the willfully strange stuff kicks in. Throughout the record, Rundgren reveals himself as a gifted synthesist, blending all manners of musical styles and quirks into a distinctive signature sound. All of this was suggested on the best of the Nazz's work -- particularly on the British Invasion pastiche of their debut -- but here, it all comes to fruition. That's particularly true of Rundgren's ballads. A unique mixture of Carole King and Laura Nyro, they're melodic and sensitive, yet stand apart from his "singer/songwriters" of the early '70s, since the songwriting is rooted in Brill Building pop, not folk. Also, Rundgren is as interested in the sound of a record as he is in the song. Although he would later pursue these tendencies to extremes, Runt finds him learning how to create an effective sound with the studio, which may be the reason why the album is shamelessly eclectic, running the gamut from hard rockers like "Who's That Man?" to ballads like "Once Burned." Although these songs are instantly appealing, the album really gets interesting when he reaches between those two extremes, whether it's in the classic pop medley "Baby Let's Swing," the bizarrely tongue-in-cheek "I'm in the Clique," or the equally impish "We Gotta Get You a Woman," which gave Rundgren his first hit. All the details buried within these songs -- not only in the deceptively simple productions, but within the writing itself -- confirm Rundgren's exceptional skill at songcraft. He occasionally slips on Runt, delivering tracks that rely on production instead of a blend of studio craft and songcraft, but it remains a thoroughly impressive debut and one of his finest pop records. [Edsel dove into the somewhat thorny world of Todd Rundgren's first solo album in 2011, digging up the alternate versions and the unreleased "Say No More" from the exceedingly rare pressing of Runt released in November 1970. On that CD, the rarities were placed at the end of CD in a two-fer that also contained a similarly expanded The Ballad of Todd Rundgren. This 2014 disc jettisons Ballad and presents the entirety of the November 1970 version of Runt, adding a live version of "Broke Down and Busted," which was tacked onto the end of the 2011 Ballad for good measure. There may be no new material here -- every one of the alternate takes and songs surfaced on the 2011 reissue -- but listening to the record in its intended sequence is a different experience, emphasizing the hazy indulgence of this version and shining a light on how the edits on the well-known release were all for the best. That hardly invalidates this version of Runt, though, and it's hard to believe that there will be a Rundgren fanatic who doesn't thrill at getting an intact reissue of this exceedingly rare alternate version of Runt.]

Product Details

Release Date:
09/23/2014
Label:
Imports
UPC:
0740155707538
catalogNumber:
2756670
Rank:
31535

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