The Ballad of Todd Rundgren

Review by Eliot McCann (Switch to

After "Runt", upon which TR plays vitrually everything except Scrabble, OH gets down to the nitty-gritty of the Art of Songcraft. The melodic sensitivity for which Rundgren is reknowned is laid bare (at times painfully) on this album. My theory is that "Runt" was the "Sit up and take notice of me!" album, and that "Ballad" is the "OK, now I've got your attention" response. Wistful, dynamic, soul-searching and funny, "Ballad" is up there in my list of faves.

For a real demonstration of Todd's maturing melodic sense, listen to "Runt" and "Ballad" back to back. Then see which songs stay in your head the longest.

Long Flowing Robe- This record may pre-date Utopia by a few years, but this really is Lust in Action!

The Ballad of Denny and Jean- This is the first indication of Todd's growing maturity as a songsmith. Unique chord placements (that wouldn't be heard again until Joe Jackson and Ben Folds) are the bedrock of the sublimely hummable melody. Wish he's axed Waldo the Singing Geetar though...

Bleeding- Maybe the only track that dates the record, as it is too topical. Great sarcasm though.

Wailing Wall- I listened to this song three times in a row, and ventured to the piano to learn it. One of the best constructed lyrics I've heard. Anyone who hears this song and isn't affected by its sweet melancholy is dead.

Range War- Todd goes stoopid (a trick he'd play on almost all his records at the fourth track! Coincidence? Check 'em out yourself). But again, this song buzzes rouond the head like a wasp in a bistcuit tin. The boy can write...

Chain Letter- Is this TR taking the piss out of Hey Jude? ("Carry oooooooonnnnn....")

A Long Time...- Prescient indeed, OH seems to know he has miles to go before he becomes the Todd we all know. Wierd Philly-soul feel htrough it.

Boat on the Charles- Most Toddsters I know hate this song: Fools!! I love it! But have no idea why. Perhaps it speaks to the teenager in me.

Be Nice To Me- I think this a follow-up to Baby, Let's Swing. It's too much like Laura Nyro not to be.

Hope I'm Around- Bet Elton John was sick as a dog when he heard this. hee-hee....

Parole- Get out and RAWK!! Just at the right time, after the comparative sugary-ness of this side, Parole is the Insulin that puts everything in balance. And it kicks ass.

Remember Me- This coda fascinates me. If CDs were around back in '71, this would be a hidden track. Listen to it and look at the cover at the same time. It will creep you out.

So stay tooned til next time, folks, as I attempt to explain why every Todd fan should own a copy of "Healing"....


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