The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect - Rolling Stone

Review by Park Puterbaugh/Rolling Stone (Switch to

The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect Todd Rundgren Released: 1983
Todd Rundgren is so prolific a recording artist that it's difficult just to keep abreast of his work and tempting to take his considerable talent for granted, especially when it's submerged in the group democracy of Utopia. Rundgren is always more interesting when he plays God and creates everything himself, and The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect -- like Hermit of Mink Hollow, Faithful (side two) and Something/Anything? before it -- is another immaculate conception of perfect pop that pleases the ears and piques the mind.

Structurally, the new LP also recalls an older one, Another Live Utopia. The four songs on the first side are of a piece -- tensile, thrilling pop confections -- while the five tunes on the flip are a grab bag of Rundgren's favorite stylistic quirks, from Nazz-type British Invasion power pop ("Tin Soldier") to Gilbert and Sullivan-esque whimsy ("Emperor of the Highway") to glorious junk-rock reggae ("Bang the Drum All Day") to incantatory paeans ("Drive", "Chant"). As ever, he proves himself a most engaging melodist and a master of the hook. Be it his soulful falsetto in "Don't Hurt Yourself", the filigree guitar strums and keyboard glissandos that decorate these songs or the way Rundgren's multitracked background chorus answers the singer in "Influenza", it's all as catchy as, well, the flu. From the self-effacing title on down, Rundgren hasn't been this hummable and lovable in years. Here's hoping there's more where this came from.

-- Park Puterbaugh, Rolling Stone, 3-3-83.

Transcribed by Dennis McGee

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