My "Ballad of TR" review

Review by Jeff Baker (Switch to

"The Ballad of Todd Rundgren" is one of his most cohesive and strongest albums. A consistency only matched by Hermit of Mink Hollow, Utopia's Network album, Adventures, Oblivion, POV, Nearly Human, Liars, and Arena.

The production of "The Ballad of Todd Rundgren" is vastly superior to "Runt". A very well recorded album with a clarity not commonly heard from albums of this period.

"Long Flowing Robe" gets things off to an ear-grabbing start. Imagine what you'd get if you combined "It Never Rains In Southern California" with Carole King and Paul McCartney.

"The Ballad (Denny & Jean)" is Todd matching Burt Bacharach/Hal David at their own game. Heartbreaking yet quaint with restraint.

"Bleeding"...Imagine "Broke Down and Busted" with a more solid strut. Very odd 'watery' guitar sound but with a rock attitude. The strange background vocal sound during the 'take two pills and go to bed' section has to be heard to be believed. Spacy, dreamy atmosphere in a rock setting is the only way I can describe the sound. Very intricate guitar figure during the verses.

"Wailing Wall"...One of Todd's most heartfelt intimate songs. Imagine "Pretending To Care" with a piano. Right up there with that song and "Bag Lady". Todd was becoming a master at the textured background vocals this early on that would become a musical hallmark of his.

"The Range War"...Todd doing a more tender version of The Band. Let's describe this one as Burt Bacharach meets The Band. You get the idea.

"Chain Letter"..The weak link on the album. I like the first half of the song (though it's still the least memorable part of the album) but the 'carry onnnn' part during the last part goes wayyyyy too long and gets really boring and annoying.

"A Long Time, A Long Way To Go"...Soulful anthem. Imagine a 2 minute, 12 second version of the intro to "Just One Victory".

"Boat On The Charles"...Most atmospheric song on the album. Sort of a laid back jazzy feel but within the context of an early 70s pop song. Later songs like "Windows", "Caravan" (yes, I know they're both Powell songs), "Healing Pt. 1", "Lost Horizon", "Fidelity", and "Gaya's Eyes" would have colors of this song.

"Be Nice To Me"..Boyish melancholy innocence. This could be looked upon as a 'prequel' to "Marlene" on the "Something/Anything" album. He's back in Burt Bacharach mode on this one.

"Hope I'm Around"...Ah, yes. The centerpiece of this album. One of Todd's most gripping songs of all time. Probably the most perfect representation of melancholy angst. A more deeper, darker version of the feeling evoked by the chorus of "Cold Morning Light". Only matched by "Can We Still Be Friends".

"Parole"...After all the singer/songwriter intimacy on this album the final song (proper) on this album is a fun upbeat rocker. Comparable to "Take It Home" on "Deface the Music".

and finally we end with a heartfelt musical equivalent to a "P.S." at the end of a letter...."Remember Me". A simple, tender piano part with a restrained intimate vocal from Todd. Listen for the extremely layered harmony vocal overdubs on this punctuating the spiritual passion being evoked. A heartfelt way to say goodbye at the end of an album.

"The Ballad of Todd Rundgren" is a genuine solid masterpiece in the Rundgren catalog.

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