THE BALLAD OF DENNY AND JEAN. Todd pulled this one out live during one of his 80's solo tours and likened it to "baby pictures," a term which with hindsight aptly describes his first three solo albums. Denny and Jean carries a beautiful melody, one of many on this album. I take his comment as referring to the lyrics.
BLEEDING. A bit of the TR cynicism here; "If you lose your hand, you got another one." Apparently about Vietnam. The music is somewhat Nazzish. Plenty of guitar.
WAILING WALL. Beautiful melody and piano. The story line goes from "she" to "them" to "me."
RANGE WAR. Todd's one country tune. With another nice melody underneath. Lyrics and music accompany one another well.
CHAIN LETTER. I've always liked this one too, as some others have written. Extreem channel effect. Lyrics and music again relate well.
A LONG TIME, A LONG WAY TO GO. Yet another great melody established in this short tune. A return to the angst theme.
BOAT ON THE CHARLES. "It's just about time I let my insides show." The young angst continues to spill in this Beantown setting.
BE NICE TO ME. Todd's tired and fed up. A nice tune. But perhaps "Long Flowing Robe" was a better choice for the single.
HOPE I'M AROUND. I was once scribbling some lyrics until I realized this was coming out. This song's always a memory trigger for me.
PAROLE. Like "Is It My Name," "Out of Control," "Drive," and "Word Made Flesh," the second to last album cut is a rocker. "I got to get my dose of Rock and Roll." Gotta love that that guitar riff!
REMEMBER ME. Remember who? Did he know the next album would be a pop sensation and things wouldn't be the same?
Todd's first three solo albums were indeed "baby pictures" of a genius talent during his early development. He would do more interesting and challenging things later. But of his many projects, perhaps _The Ballad of Todd Rundgren_ showcases his basic musical talents the clearest. Nothing can compare with simple grace.
P.S. I'll always remember George Lazares' description of Ballad as "the best album Billy Joel never made."