A Wizard, A True Star

Review by Ed Grieze (Switch to

Todd gets interesting. From the opening airplane sound Todd's music takes off into new directions. No more limitation to two stanza, break, stanza,.. boy meets girl songs. With some artificial incentive Todd is now talking about himself and his music, and the potential of both. Neither needs to conform to anything. But do we wish to come along? "I only want to see if you'll give up on me."

INTERNATIONAL FEEL/NEVER NEVER LAND/TIC TIC TIC. Todd smoothly blends three different pieces, effectively illustrating that the extreem can be synthesized into one. Now that he's made this opening point he goes to ..

YOU NEED YOUR HEAD/ROCK AND ROLL PUSSY. Todd is looking to shock, and he succeeds. When making Todd tapes it's always been tricky to cut between TIC and NEED YOUR HEAD. But the shock is only effective the first time. These two songs are trash. R&R PUSSY is suggesting to John Lennon that he has become complacent. Todd, full of gall, laughs at his preceeding joke with DOGFIGHT GIGGLE.

CAMP AROUND/FLAMINGO/ZEN ARCHER/ONIONHEAD/DALI. No one can touch him now. "You want the obvious, you'll get the obvious." "A dark figure steps out of the shadows, pretty mind closes its' eye." Todd's most wicked album. This run of songs lacks substance. But there's more.

With AWATS Todd has adopted a much more electric sound. He is filling in all the gaps to achieve the wall to wall sound, which he will retain throughout the remainder of his career. SUNSET BLVD./LE FEEL INT'L. is the highlight of the album despite an overly rich mix. The reprise closes side one and shows Todd thinking in terms of album sides rather than singles. Again, something we see several times later in his career. Todd anticipated videos, but not CD's. He tells us about the future; "Wait another year, Utopia is here, and there's always more."

SOMETIMES I DON'T KNOW. Side two opens with a candid Todd, mask removed.

DOES ANYBODY LOVE YOU?/MEDLEY. Side two settles down musically and lyrically. The COOL JERK medley inclusion was a mistake which Todd later corrects in the live shows with I SAW THE LIGHT.

Still there's more. HUNGRY FOR LOVE establishes the one comedy song per album trend. (DALI wasn't funny.)

I DON`T WANT TO TIE YOU DOWN. A little more mush to reinforce he can still do it.

IS IT MY NAME? As George pointed out; "Why don't you love me?" A good rocker. He should have occasionally done it live. A fitting inclusion in the upcoming 2nd Wind tour?

And there`s always more. The album closes with the first classic Todd song - JUST ONE VICTORY.

Todd's albums are now interesting. Early efforts were in Todd's words; "baby pictures." Sides one and two differ, but I don't believe that's the idea of the two part album title. Side one has some weak inclusions, but as a whole the album works as an excellent piece of abstract art. That's why it remains one of my most revisited Todd efforts. Putting on some of the Utopia albums is often no big deal today, but AWATS remains a refreshing experience.

And yes, unfortunately _A Wizard/A True Star_ also marked the end of Todd's chances for large scale popularity. But I don't care about that. I get off on this album so I listen to it. Sum of the parts equals A-. I'll give a bad review when we discuss an album I'm less fond of.

Note: Do you really think I've mixed up the albums?

I'll shave my skull instead,
Be just another onionhead.

- ED

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