Monday, June 26, 2006

MP3: Todd Rundgren - A Cappella

Todd Rundgren has been a favourite of mine for a few years now. Like many I was first turned onto his work through the inclusion of his wonderful It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference (from 1972's self written, performed and produced double opus Something/Anything) in Cameron Crowe's equally wonderful Almost Famous. Since them i've checked out a ton of his stuff and in the main really enjoyed everything. At points his melodies get a little predictable, but he's obviously clever enough to reinvent himself every now and then and to keep things a little interesting. In 1985 he released one of his more original projects, A Cappella, which as the name suggests is an album entirely made up of his own voice. Bjork did the same thing with Medulla, but wimped out slightly and included a couple of instruments. Rundgren however makes every single noise on the record with his own body, and doesn't use any extra vocalists either. His record is a lot more instant than Bjork's, in fact in places it sounds like a traditional Todd record. I suppose he was testing himself to see whether he could do everything he did on his normal records with his own voice, rather than trying to make really experimental soundscapes as Bjork would later do. There are also some quite traditional Beach Boys style harmonies and doo-wop influences that are rather lovely but perhaps not as experimental as you might expect from record that is otherwise quite groundbreaking in its production and compositional style.

This is somewhat of a disappointment, as often the songwriting on A Cappella isn't quite as great as it was on his 70s albums, but luckily the novelty of Todd doing every sound usually adds enough interest to stop you getting bored. The songs i've put up are the album's opener, the rather nice Blue Orpheus, the quite wonderful Pretending To Care, the albums highlight, and the very odd Lockjaw. Hope you like them. More info on Todd at Wikipedia, or at The Todd Rundgren Connection.

By the way if anyone is wondering what's going on with the Manics discography seires I was promising, it's been delayed slightly by the fact that I didn't realise that my copies of the bands earlier material are at my parents house, and so i'll have to pick them up in the next few days before I can start doing stuff. Meanwhile i'll have some more of my film series up! That's all for now, hope it's not raining as hard where you are as it is here!

- quick addition - There's a nice new blog called Unearthed Treasures which looks to become very worthwhile. Make sure you go take a look.

Todd Rundgren - Blue Orpheus - MP3 3.47mb
Todd Rundgren - Pretending to Care - MP3 2.58mb
Todd Rundgren - Lockjaw - MP3 2.76mb


Anonymous Dan said...

Not only does he sound a lot like his fellow Philly native, Darryl Hall, but Blue Orpheus sounds like a H&O outtake from one of their lesser 80's albums.

2:11 pm, June 26, 2006  
Blogger cchang said...

Bjork did the same thing with Medulla, but wimped out slightly and included a couple of instruments.

This line made me bust out laughing actually. Thanks for sharing the Todd Rundgren tracks. I'm a huge fan of acapella music of all sorts.

4:04 pm, June 26, 2006  
Blogger Jack Feerick said...

Dan - if you think "Blue Orpheus" sounds like Hall & Oates, you should hear "Lost Horizon"...

I love love LOVE A Cappella. I love the way it's experimental, even schematic, mostly without being gimmicky. That is: He's intentionally exploring different genres of unaccompanied singing—doo-wop on "Hodja," boot-camp cadence on "Johnee Jingo," Watersons-style English folksong on "Honest Work," the Beach Boys workout of "Pretending To Care"—but it's never just a genre pastiche; it's all backed up by strong songwriting and a distinctive worldview.

And that Philly Soul feel keeps coming up—the disc ends with a tremendous cover of the Spinners' "Mighty Love."

Funny story; many years ago, when I was at college, I was visiting a friend at an Ivy League school that boasts several a capella ensembles. This was during homecoming weekend, so all the singing groups were doing sets on a little stage by the student union. Mostly unmemorable, but one group did do an arrangement of "Hodja." Laugh? I nearly shat.

7:37 pm, June 26, 2006  
Anonymous Daz said...

Agree completely with Dan re Daryl Hall, he did n`t guest did he??

1:48 pm, July 05, 2006  

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