Todd, of course, was their main writer and arranger—something of a major achievement for an eighteen year old, considering the unpretentious flow of natural energy. (Why, shit, even THE critic, Jon Landau, wrote their liner notes!) “Nazz Nazz” followed with Todd in complete control (even though the entire band is credited with production and arrangement, I suspect otherwise . . . ssshhh) writing some quite amazing tunes (i.e.—”Forget All About It,– “Under the Ice!!!,” “Letters Don’t Count,” and the mini-suite “A Beautiful Song”). Unfortunately, their live appearances were not up to the level of their discs, a fact that haunted Todd until the formation of Utopia; but those records—oh those magical albums still sound fab today. . . .
“. . .And how much I love you, you’ll never know you join me within my dream. . .” (Todd on “Todd”)
And then came “Runt!” Early editions of the LP carried this sticker: “Todd Rundgrens in it for the music. He would much rather be in the public ear than the public eye. So we’ll just introduce him to you and flash his credentials. The album will take care of the rest. . . . Todd formed the Nazz when he was eighteen. He wrote and arranged all their material, played lead guitar and produced most of their records. . . . Since leaving the group about a year ago, he has produced albums and sessions with the Butterfield Blues Band, the Great Speckled Bird (Ian Slyvia’s band), James Cotton, and the American Dream. After he engineered Jesse Winchester’s album, the Band asked him to help out on their next LP (“Stage Fright”). . . . But Todd has always been a performer, and this album is all Todd Rundgren. On it are a dozen songs he wrote and arranged; he played all the instruments except drums and bass, did all the vocals, and produced it. . . . We know Todd couldn’t care less about getting into “Who’s Who,” but this album will at least get him out of “Who’s He?” .. . amen! amen! The LP even had a hit single to boost the boy: “We’ve Got to Get You a Women,” one of the decades finest pop-rock ballads. Onward and
upward. . . .
“Somehow, someday, we need just one victory and we’re on our way.”
(Todd on “A Wizard/A True Star”)
The Ballad of Todd Rundgren” contains just that—some of his beautiful croonings (especially “Hope You’re Around,” “Be Nice to Me,” and “Wailing Wall”) as well as his usual pop singles approach (“Long Flowing Robe”) and get-down rock-outs (“I’m Only Bleeding” and “Parole”). And again Todd was still mastering his techniques in/of the studio, preparing for his ascension to pop-rock heaven… .
Of course, as everyone should be aware of, this came