Watching Rock and Roll DieNotices of significant Todd-related passings.
Vince Welnick died Friday, June 2, 2006
As many already know, Luther Vandross died on July 1, 2005. Luther toured briefly with Utopia as a background singer in 1975.
Phillip Ballou, background vocalist on Another Live, died March 19, 2005 http://www.davidlasley.com/PhillipBallou.html
Many readers will be saddened to learn of the death of Ian MacDonald, the music journalist most famous for the brilliant "Revolution in the Head", an analysis of all the songs of The Beatles.
Mr MacDonald was also a champion of Todd's music, and reviewing the re-release of "Todd" in the UK's Uncut magazine 4 years ago, he called it:
...the tragic-transcendent "Todd", Rundgren's only clear-cut masterpiece. One of the towering works of the Seventies, this double-album goes against the grain of its self-adoring glam-rock era by resurrecting the global idealism of the late Sixties counterculture. Haunted by his predecessors' failures, Rundgren presents a vision of hope shaded with a melancholy perhaps partly induced by his Ritalin come-downs, yet braced by determination and his finest assembly of songs: work of depth, passion and confrontational engagement inhabiting an astounding synthesised sound-world wherein wit, anger, sadness, avant-garde sonics, and lyrical beauty co-exist in mature balance. Few records can plausibly be called great. "Todd" is pre-eminently one of them.Elsewhere in the review, he writes:
Three and a quarter minutes into 'Heavy Metal Kids', something happens which you don't hear much any more: an eruption of musical feeling so passionate that it rocks you right back on your heels ..... all hell breaks loose, bassist John Miller busting out of the riff into raging double-time while Kevin Ellman switches both sticks to his snare-drum, driving the coda to self-immolating consummation under Rundgren's demented lava-spewing guitar. All the expressive power of modern rock explodes in this mad minute - all the feeling, the ambition, the frustration, the megalanova mind-detonating excitement. Future generations will, one trusts, look back and recognise that, in moments like this, rock expressed crucial aspects of being alive in the late 20th century which classical music either gave up on or lacked exponents talented enough to capture and reproduce.Mr MacDonald's latest book, "The People's Music", published in the UK this year by Pimlico, collects several of his musical essays and mentions Todd twice. (It also includes an excellent essay on Laura Nyro, saying "it's time her fountainhead status was recognised, acknowledged and appreciated.")