A WIZARD A TRUE STAR: TODD RUNDGREN IN THE STUDIO by Paul Myers (Jawbone Press)
“Todd’s aphorism was, ‘If you know what you want, I’ll get it for you. If you don’t know what you want, I’ll do it for you.’” Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group)
Todd Rundgren is without doubt, one of the giants of rock music: not only as a solo singer-songwriter-performer but also as the mastermind behind progressive rock ensemble Utopia. And if that was not enough, Rundgren is one of the most prolific and successful producers as well.
In my humble opinion his solo albums – Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren, Something/Anything?, A Wizard A True Star and Todd are essential 70s LPs. Add to this list, Rundgren has produced iconic albums for inter alia Sparks, New York Dolls, Badfinger, Grand Funk Railroad, Hall & Oates, Meat Loaf, Patti Smith Group, The Tubes, Tom Robinson Band, XTC, Psychedelic Furs, Cheap Trick, Bourgeois Tagg, The Pursuit of Happiness, Bad Religion and Steve Hillage.
So if you want to know how this amazing track record was put together then, this Paul Myers-authored book provides the answers as Myers speaks to Rundgren and many of the bands and artists who worked with Rundgren during those heady times. You might say that A Wizard A True Star gives us the skinny on Rundgren’s recording process and methods.
So, the book is not a bio (although it does feature biographical elements) and focuses on the recording sessions of the bulk of Rundgren’s recording/production career to date. For fans of 70s and 80s music, there will be albums you will zero in on whether Rundgren solo, Utopia or band production.
My personal faves?
The making of my favorite Rundgren album – A Wizard A True Star – how Rundgren took money earned from the massive success of Something/Anything? to invest in his own studio with keyboardist Moogy Klingman, which gave him the freedom to construct his sonic masterpiece. The fraught sessions with XTC’s Andy Partridge that produced the excellent Skylarking album. The close relationship between Rundgren and Patti Smith that resulted in the legendary Wave album. And so on…
It truly boggles the mind what Rundgren has achieved in his vast career and reading A Wizard A True Star puts all of it into proper perspective. And… once you’ve read it, you gonna want to check out those wondrous albums…
… and there’s more …