Something/Anything?

Something/Anything?

5.0 5
by Todd Rundgren
     
 

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To use his own words, Todd Rundgren was indeed a wizard, a true star. He's had only a couple of genuine hits ("Hello It's Me," "I Saw the Light"), but that's little indication of the depth of his career as pop showman (his dozen-plus solo albums), art rocker (leader of the group Utopia), producer (Meat Loaf, the Psychedelic Furs, Patti Smith,

Overview

To use his own words, Todd Rundgren was indeed a wizard, a true star. He's had only a couple of genuine hits ("Hello It's Me," "I Saw the Light"), but that's little indication of the depth of his career as pop showman (his dozen-plus solo albums), art rocker (leader of the group Utopia), producer (Meat Loaf, the Psychedelic Furs, Patti Smith, the New York Dolls, Grand Funk, Hall & Oates, Cheap Trick), and pop futurist (an early innovator of sound and video). In the showman category, Rundgren hit a peak with Something/Anything?, as pure an exposition of pop songcraft as perhaps has ever been made. On the first three of the album's four sides, Rundgren writes, plays, and produces everything himself, including "I Saw the Light," "Couldn't I Just Tell You," and "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference"; on the fourth, he and a host of guest stars proffer a funky if somewhat adolescently minded "pop operetta" that actually deserves the term. Included there is "Hello It's Me," jazzy horns, soulful vocals and all. a still-touching slice of romantic ambivalence. This record is really only for those with a sense of humor and a great love of timeless pop rock -- and for them it's a necessity.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
After two albums, Todd Rundgren had one hit and a burgeoning cult following, plus growing respect as a hitmaking record producer. There's no question he was busy, but as it turns out, all this work only scratched the surface of his ambition. He had decided to abandon the Runt pretense and recorded a full double album by himself (save for one side). Others had recorded one-man albums before, most notably Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney, but Rundgren -- without borrowing musically from either artist -- captured the homemade ambience of McCartney with the visionary feel of Music of My Mind, adding an encyclopedic knowledge of pop music from Gilbert & Sullivan through Jimi Hendrix, plus the crazed zeal of a pioneer. Listening to Something/Anything? is a mind-altering trip in itself, no matter how many instantly memorable, shamelessly accessible pop songs are scattered throughout the album. Each side of the double album is a concept onto itself. The first side is "a bouquet of ear-catching melodies"; side two is "the cerebral side"; on side three "the kid gets heavy"; side four is his mock pop operetta, recorded with a full band including the Sales brothers. It gallops through everything -- Carole King tributes ("I Saw the Light"), classic ballads ("Hello It's Me," "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference"), Motown ("Wolfman Jack"), blinding power pop ("Couldn't I Just Tell You"), psychedelic hard rock ("Black Maria"), pure weirdness ("I Went to the Mirror"), blue-eyed soul ("Dust in the Wind"), and scores of brilliant songs that don't fall into any particular style ("Cold Morning Light," "It Takes Two to Tango"). It's an amazing journey that's remarkably unpretentious. He may have contributed self-penned liner notes, but Rundgren peppers his writing with self-aware, self-deprecating asides, and he also indulges his bizarre sense of humor with gross-outs ("Piss Aaron") and sheer quirkiness, such as an aural tour of the studio at the beginning of side two. Something/Anything? has a ton of loose ends throughout: plenty of studio tricks, slight songs (but no filler), snippets of dialogue, and purposely botched beginnings, but all these throwaways simply add context -- they're what makes the album into a kaleidoscopic odyssey through the mind of an insanely gifted pop music obsessive. Rundgren occasionally touched on the sheer brilliance of Something/Anything? in his later work, but this extraordinary double album is the one time where his classicist songcraft and messy genius converged to create an utterly unique, glorious record.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/25/1990
Label:
Rhino
UPC:
0081227110727
catalogNumber:
71107
Rank:
8702

Tracks

Disc 1

  1. I Saw the Light
  2. It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference
  3. Wolfman Jack
  4. Cold Morning Light
  5. It Takes Two to Tango (This Is for the Girls)
  6. Sweeter Memories
  7. Intro
  8. Breathless
  9. The Night the Carousel Burned Down
  10. Saving Grace
  11. Marlene
  12. Song of the Viking
  13. I Went to the Mirror

Disc 2

  1. Black Maria
  2. One More Day (No Word)
  3. Couldn't I Just Tell You
  4. Torch Song
  5. Little Red Lights
  6. Overture -- My Roots: Money (That's What I Want)/Messin' with the Kid
  7. Dust in the Wind
  8. Piss Aaron
  9. Hello It's Me
  10. Some Folks Is Even Whiter Than Me
  11. You Left Me Sore
  12. Slut

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Todd Rundgren   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals,Multi Instruments,Various
Rick Derringer   Guitar
Michael Brecker   Horn,Tenor Saxophone
Amos Garrett   Guitar
Jim Colegrove   Bass
Vicki Sue Robinson   Vocals
Rick Vito   Guitar
Ben Keith   Guitar,Pedal Steel Guitar
Brooks Baxes   Vocals
Randy Brecker   Trumpet,Horn
Anthony Carrabba   Vocals
Dennis Cooley   Vocals
Richard Corey   Vocals
Brother Gene Dinwiddie   Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Henry Fanton   Vocals
Jim Horn   Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Robbie Kagale   Guitar
Serge Kaken   Conductor
Jackie Kelso   Saxophone
John Kelson   Tenor Saxophone
Mark "Moogy" Klingman   Organ,Piano,Keyboards
Robbie Kogel   Guitar
Bugsy Maugh   Bass
Billy Mundi   Drums
Cecilia Norfleet   Vocals
Edward Olmos   Clarinet,Vocals
Barry Rodgers   Trombone
Barry Rogers   Trombone
Hope Ruff   Vocals
Hunt Sales   Drums
Tony Sales   Bass
Charlie Schoning   Piano
John Siegler   Bass,Cello
John Siomos   Drums
Ralph Wash   Guitar
Stu Woods   Bass
Serge Katzen   Conga

Technical Credits

Todd Rundgren   Arranger,Producer,Audio Production
Nick Jameson   Engineer
Berry Gordy   Composer
Mark "Moogy" Klingman   Composer
Dan Turbeville   Engineer
James Lowe   Engineer
B. Strong   Composer

Customer Reviews

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Something/Anything? 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Dennisfromthehalcyondays More than 1 year ago
"Keep Your Head and Everything Will Be Cool"...from Couldn't I Just Tell You on disc 2 of this essential LP - track through all the cuts on disc 2 for one of the most memorable rides from a popmeister genius and a true star
Guest More than 1 year ago
Yeah, yeah... this is the one universally acknowledged Rundgren masterwork, and deservedly so-- a better collection of pop classics has NEVER been recorded by anyone. But this Rundgrenphile does not regard it as the best. For one thing, S/A? explores only one side of Rundgren's genius; for another, the three self-recorded sides could have benefited greatly from the help of a few session musicians-- at least a bass player and drummer. Nevertheless, this double album is worth every nickel of its price. Overlooked gems include: ''Sweeter Memories'', ''The Night the Carousel Burned Down'', ALL of Side 3. The unadulterated acclaim given this record later caused Todd a lot of frustration, I'm sure.
Guest More than 1 year ago
...yep, the Viking song speaks to me. Todd made one of the great two disk LPs of all time. Solid is the best way to describe this one. Acrobatic musicianship, ascerbic wit and incredible range all come together. The period when this album released saw more than a few "four-siders" release and only a few were cover2cover successes. Little Feat's Waiting for Columbus is in this class of amazingly solid two diskers, but TR is the master!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Evincing the tricksy turns of every emotion of our Youth, Todd's classic double disc contains classic works: Hello, It's Me, Couldn't I Just Tell You, I Saw the Light. It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference has been covered by disparate artists ranging from Johnny Mathis to Alison Kraus. Personal favorites that cause me to sing along in the car: Saving Grace, Cold Morning Light, One More Day.
Magnum-1 More than 1 year ago
I bought this on a whim based on an All Music Guide Review and the recommendation of the Music Manager at Barnes & Noble. It turned out to be an excellent album. The first six songs on each of the album's two discs are excellent, the second six songs, on each CD, are more experimental but still quite good. Rundgren even has a parody Rock Opera to end the album, which does get a little too silly. But never the less this is a really good album and contains some great pop/rock songs "Hello It's Me," "Couldn't I Just Tell you," "Torch Song," "It Really Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference," just to name a few. There is an excellent single disc in here if you want to skip over tracks but overall I thought this was excellent and I am very happy I bought it. Recommended to fans of mid-1970s pop/rock and those who can take some humor in their music.