Thursday, December 22, 2011

Best of 2011

TOP 15 Albums 2011

Album of the Year

Bon Iver – Bon Iver - There really wasn't an album I returned to more in 2012 than this one. Not a dud track on the whole album (although the Bruce Hornsby impersonation was a bit odd) Here's Bon Iver performing Perth on Later with Jools Holland

And the Rest: -

Ryan Adams Ashes & Fire. One of my favourite songwriters, and this was his best collection in a few years. Mostly stripped down. Great stuff. Lucky Now video
The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow . Not on the album, but they do a good range of covers in addition to their own stuff. Here is them doing Billy Jean on Later with Jools Holland
The Leisure Society – Into the Murky Waters : Pastoral English folk/pop music at its finest. A delightful discovery. Well crafted tunes, and great delivery. Dust on the Dancefloor video
Scoobuis Pip – Distraction Pieces … Video for Let em Come
Abigail Washburn - City of Refuge: Abigail Washburn performing "Chains" live at Music City Roots on 3.02.2011Decemberists – The King is Dead. "This is Why We Fight" on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Tom Waits – Bad as Me. Video for Satisfied
Todd Rundgren – reProduced No Video's for this, but Here's the version of Dancing Barefoot
Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes – Video for I Follow Rivers Steve Earle – I'll Never Ger Outta This World Alive - Every Part of Me on Letterman
The Sandman's Orchestra - Silver Linings. On a bit of a mission to bring this band to wider attention. They are a duo made up of Pierre Laplace, a singer/songwriter from Lille, France, and his 16-year-old niece, LĂ©onie Gabriel, and they make great modern folk music. Listen and buy here
Wilco – The Whole Love. Video for Born Alone
REM – Collapse into Now Video for Mine Smell Like Honey
Foo Fighters - Video for Rope

Top 10 Gigs 2011
Gig of the year
Abigail Washburn – The Borderline - Friday 20 May 2011

Hard to get over just how magnificent this gig was. A packed venue on a May evening, and with a good portion of the audience not really knowing what to expect. What to expect was Washburn accompanied by >>> sat commanding the stage with warmth, humour, and some astonishingly good music.

The other 9, in no particular order:

The Hold Steady - Shepherds Bush Empire - Friday 18 February 2011
The Civil Wars – Union Chapel - Tuesday 27 September 2011
Steve Earle & The Dukes (and Duchesses) - Royal Festival Hall - Tuesday 25 October 2011
Todd Rundgren – Jazz Cafe - Monday 3 October 2011
Shelby Lynne – Cardogan Hall - Friday 6 May 2011
The Decemberists – Hammersmith Apollo - Wednesday 16 March 2011
Scroobius Pip – Scala -
Jesse Malin – Scala –
Sleigh Bells – Heaven - Monday 14 February 2011

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Todd Rundgren @ Jazz cafe, London 03/10/11 and 05/10/11

Todd played 3 nights at London's Jazz Cafe this week. I went along to Monday and Wednesday's gigs.

It is a venue that holds around 300 people, so is pretty 'cozy' as far as viewing experiences go. A continuation of the dates he'd been doing in the US recently it was billed as “The greatest hits tour his fans have been waiting to see for years.” On Monday night he joked about this, adding if this were really the case the gig would be over after 15 minutes, although he did add that these were the songs he thought fans 'might' like to hear. He certainly cast his net wide album-wise, with 15 Todd and 1 Utopia album covered in the set list. He may have not been playing every fan's favourite songs, but he was certainly trying to cover most of his albums. As a result it covered a wide variety of his career and allowed him to dip in and out of some of the different styles he's used over it – power pop, rock, blues, soul, bosa nova etc.

For me, when I see Todd, it is always nice to catch songs I haven't seen live before so: Real Man, Determination, Lucky Guy, Espresso, Lost Horizon and Drive – all ticked that box this time around, and all were good, and in the case of Lost Horizon it was one of the highlights of both nights. Other highlights on Monday were: Buffalo Grass, Hawking, I'm So Proud / Ooo Baby Baby / La La Means I Love and Determination. On Wednesday it was Can We Still Be Friends?, It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference, Drive and Hello It's Me that took the honours.

Of the two nights Monday was certainly the vocally better of the nights, with Todd certainly hitting all the right notes during the middle slow tempo/soul numbers. Wednesday night was a bit more suspect all round vocally, with Todd seeming to have a bit of a croaky voice (not that he mentioned this or tried to use it as an excuse), but it did mean that even a die-hard like me was wincing at a number of moments – not that anyone around me seemed to notice or care. On Monday, as has been the case on a number of occasions over the past decade it was clear that whilst I (and many of his fans) prefer the more rocky tunes, vocally it is on the slower more soulful songs where his voice really belongs.

There has been on on-going riff through this tour where the band fail to come in at the right time for Hello it's Me at various points during the set and then get it right for the encore. Mildly amusing, but more so when they did it just after Todd had called a halt to the start of Hawking on Wednesday night, after even he had spotted a seriously dude note. A tease that was greeted with a humorous 'oh fuck off' to the band.

Set list: Real Man / Love of the Common Man/ Buffalo Grass/ Kindhearted Woman/ Determination/ Lucky Guy/ Can We Still Be Friends? / Espresso / Love Is the Answer / It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference/ Lost Horizon / Flaw/ Soul Brother/ I'm So Proud / Ooo Baby Baby / La La Means I Love You / I Want You/ Hawking / I Saw the Light/ Courage / Drive / Couldn't I Just Tell You? / Encore: Hello It's Me/ A Dream Goes on Forever

He's off to Ronnie Scott's for a final UK gig this Saturday (not going to that one) , where the band wont be playing this set, but playing two 70 minute sets – one blues, one bosa nova instead [the vote in the audience on Weds was for the bosa nova set to be the first one]. Would have quite fancied the Bosa Nova set.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Civil Wars @ The Union Chapel 28/09/11

They may have met 3 years ago, but it is only really in the last year that the duo of Joy Williams and John Paul White (aka The Civil Wars) have started to make a big musical splash, both with fans, and fellow musicians alike (Adele was so impressed on hearing them she immediately signed them up to be her support act on her US tour). And it is really not hard to see why on the evidence of their debut album Barton Hallow. Stunning vocal harmonies and wonderful bitter sweet songs, have already made it, for me, one of the albums of the year. So a trip out to the wonderful surroundings of The Union Chapel to see them live was too good a chance to miss.

I was not disappointed. A 80 minute set – including two encores (the second highly unexpected, and had Williams in tears) – was joy from start to finish with the pair showing a natural playful chemistry both with audience and one another. John Paul has a touch of Johnny Depp about him, whilst Joy is a bit of a minx. Musically they mixed things up nicely with a blend of material from the debut album and unique cover versions as varied as You are my Sunshine (various); I want you Back (Jacksons), Dance Me to the End of Love (Leonard Cohen), Billy Jean (M Jackson) and Disarm (Smashing Pumpkins).

The crowd sat in their pews hanging on every word and note: we were wooed by them and them by us in return.

20 Years
Poison and Wine
Barton Hollow
Billy Jean

Monday, September 19, 2011

Todd Speaks

Two fun video interviews with Todd, first up KHPR/Hawaii Public Radio afternoon host Dave Lawrence speaks with music icon Todd Rundgren at Hungry Ear Records, Kailua, on Oahu as part of annual Record Store Day festivities (April 2011)

And then way back to 1978, where Todd predicts the failure of videodisc and predicts intercative computer controlled TVs.

And back to now, Todd talks about the new album, and modern music "Today, the songs are written totally to audience specifications. "We already know what the audience going to like so let's just create that!" to Spinner magazine.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Todd Rundgren - [re]Production

So, a new Todd album. Of course being Todd it is never as simple as that, so this album came about from a 3 day, band camp exercise. In yet another way to finance a record, Todd agreed to sign up and allow fans to participate in the process.

Gigatone’s myRecordFantasy essentially gives fans the opportunity to enter the recording studio with their favorite artist (or at least favourite that has agreed to sign up to this process) in the making of their new album. If you're good enough you might get to play on the record and you're also treated to a couple of evening gigs at the camp by the artists. A fan-boys wet dream essentially. That , of course, whilst fun, does not guarantee that the output will be any good. Add to that, that Todd announced that his idea for this record was to pick a selection of songs off albums he had produced for other artists and do contemporary 'dance' covers of them, and some people might already be going Ooooooooo….Kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk.

Thankfully, most long time Todd fans know that Todd is want to do such things every now and again, and he said decided that he wanted to try to make a “dance record”— or at least a contemporary record, and after studying-up on what was on the charts he found that everything is dance now. "So I just thought it would be an interesting challenge, never having done a dance record."

So …. Deep breath. Can Todd pull off a dance album? Does it pass the test of actually sounding contemporary? Are the original artists going to be out for blood? Is Todd going to use Autotune? {it's a yes on that last one}

Right, Let's take it Track by Track.

1 Prime Time (originally by The Tubes) – A solid start, that is fun and toe-tapping (although not sure about the 'Lockjaw-esq funny voice singing 'give me your prime time' …
2 Dancing Barefoot (originally by Patti Smith) - This song's has leant itself to a dancier re-imagining remarkably well. One of the highlights of the record for me. Apparently, Patti Smith thinks it is quite a fun version.
3 Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad (originally by MeatLoaf)- I'm still not sure about this one. It probably captures the current musical feel as much as anything on here, but still not totally convinced.
4 Chasing Your Ghost (originally by What is This?) - Autotune to the fore (or as Todd users Record to make records, possibly Neptune to the fore), and probably the one that nails the current genre best for me. Probably the best think on the album.
5 Love My Way (originally by Psychedelic Furs) – Longer than the original and the Chorus on this is now more PSB than PF. I love the original so much that it is hard to really warm to this, but it does work well. Also the female voice gives it a bit of a Dubstar vibe too.
6 Personality Crisis (originally by New York Dolls) – Ga Ga Crisis. The good lady seems an inspiration for the sound of this fun version of the Dolls' classic.
7 Is It a Star? (originally by Hall & Oates) – This could have been on Liars. Good version though.
8 Tell Me Your Dreams (originally by Jill Sobule) – My favourite Jill Sobule song, so hard for me to accept ANY other versions. As a result it is one of my least favourite on the record, although do like the touch of using banjos
9 Take It All (originally by Badfinger) – A no thrills, nicely executed ballad.
10 I Can’t Take It (originally by Cheap Trick) – A touch of te Veronica's 'Untouched' at the start and then a version that maintains the pop rock of the original.
11 Dear God (originally by XTC) – Ah, the best song on Skylarking, that wasn't on original version of Skylarking because it didn't fit the concept. Another personal favourite that has lent itself well to the contemporary approach
12 Out of My Mind (originally by Bourgeois Tagg) – This could almost have been written for now.
13 Everything (originally by Rick Derringer) – Must confess I am not familiar with the original, but ok song, and we get a guitar solo!
14 Walk Like a Man (originally by Grand Funk Railroad)- Give in now. You are not, not going to be singing 'strut like cock' after a listen to this. Ridiculous and lots of fun.
15 Nothing To Lose (originally by Hunter) – another well suited to the modern treatment and a fine end to the album.

Verdict: Whilst I don't think it succeeds in being as contemporary as perhaps it would have been had say pharell or someone for whom it is their sound etc produced it, it is also not the unqualified disaster it could have been. What helps greatly is that the source material is pretty good, which makes the job easier. It is actually not a bad album. Indeed there are potential 'hits' on it – not that it will get airplay in the US or UK to make this actually a reality of course.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Honest Work

I love this song, but I think I must be mad posting my version of it online - esp accapella . Needless to say, Todd makes a better job of it. The Vineland - Honest Work

Friday, September 09, 2011

Living Color

A brilliant song, off one of my favourite Todd productions {with added bonus of todd in the video}

Heard Todd's - [Re]Production album for the first time today. Full review next week.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mystified - Acoustic

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Michelle Rundgren (or company she involved in) is launching a vocal training app called VocalizeU

The app features a number of tools to help musicians with perfecting their vocal abilities including:

A Vocal Studio complete with microphone and mixer tools via a virtual “Home Studio” along with a journal and calendar apps to keep track of your progress.
A Vocal Recorder that allows you to sing over existing music in your library (karaoke mode).
A patented vocal evaluation will test your vocal abilities and offer suggestions on how to make it stronger using programmable scales.
Pitch training uses pre-programmed metronomes to get your timing just right.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Vineland - Epitaph

This is a recording of me playing my song Epitaph

Friday, July 22, 2011


A fun clip

Friday, July 08, 2011

Todd Rundgren - [re] Production.

Running Order:

Chasing Your Ghost
Dancing Barefoot
Dear God
I Can’t Take It
Is It A Star?
Love My Way
Nothing To Lose
Out Of My Mind
Personality Crisis
Prime Time
Take It All
Tell Me Your Dreams
Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad
Walk Like A Man

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Kasim reveals new Todd tour details

Kasim has posted news of the new Todd tour. Apparently it will be a 3 'set' affair: One Acoustic set sandwiched between two Electric sets. John Ferenzick joins the usual suspects on Keyboards for the tour.

Todd will also be on Letterman again, 15th June.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Recent Gigs

Abigail Washburn (with Kai Welsh) @ Borderline, London

An American clawhammer banjo player and singer Washburn was in town in support of her third album City of Refuge. I really like the record – one of the nicest surprises of the year, thus far in fact, but neither I - nor the 'I'm not really into folk music' person accompanying me to the gig were quite prepared to be as blown away as we were by Washburn and musical collaborator Kai Welsh. The sheer power of their combined voices and Washburn's banjo and Welsh's acoustic guitar was nothing short of breathtaking, and certainly ranks as one of the finest gigs I've been to.

Jessica Lea Mayfield @ Borderline, London

One of those artists I had heard about in passing and went along just because tickets were cheap. Well worth it though, as Mayfield has the same kind of vibe that Lucinda Williams has, and plays a similar style of country music. Best is yet to come from this young lady.

Rush @ 02 LondonAlways promised myself I'd get to see them some time, and free tickets in the work Box at 02 (tickets were priced at £60-£90) provided the chance. An hour long set, followed by and interval and then a 90 min set, plus encores was the set up. Part one featured recent material plus a few older things – Free Will, Subdivisions, Marathon, Time Stands Still etc. The Second section kicked off with the playing of the whole of Moving Pictures, and then a few other choice favourites inc Closer to the Heart. Encore: had to be parts 1 and 2 of 2112 and Working man. Geddy's voice may be a bit shot these days, but boy can these guys still play (and also show their sense of humour in some pre song video) 2112 overture was majestic. Good, at times, brilliant.

Clip from actual gig ...

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Out of My Mind


First song from upcoming Todd Rundgren album (re)Production has been posted online. The project (which features fans playing most of the instruments) sees Rundgren covering songs off albums he produced for other artists such as “Love My Way” from the Psychedelic Furs, “Better Than You,” by the New York Dolls, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” from Meat Loaf and Dear God from XTC. The first track posted is his version of Bourgeois Tagg’s “Out of My Mind.” As promised by Todd, sounds like it's going to be a pop record.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Spinning Discs

Thought it was time for another quick, here's what I am listening too, update.

The five albums I have listened to most in the past month. I Like them all very much.

The Leisure Society - 'Into The Murky Water'

Sick of Sarah - Sick of Sarah

Steve Earle - I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive

Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

Sarabeth Tucek - Get Well Soon

Oh and my favourite song of the moment? Ellie James (unsigned artist) Calm Before the Storm - I LOVE it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

No Idol

Seems Todd's expected appearance (other than in audience on the 6th) was pulled. According to Michelle's Facebook page:

"Sorry Everyone...i wish i had better news. American Idol decided to go in a different direction with their musical theme so they didn't use Todd. I think we should show them what they missed by focusing on The X Factor!"

Seems in addition to her facebook page, she has also joined Twitter

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Listening to:

More records that have caught my attention in 2011

Lykke Li - Wounded RhymesSwedish songstress delivers one of the finest pop records of 2011 thus far.
Youth Knows Know Pain live

Anna Calvi - Anna CalviOne of the more interesting new female talents to come out of the UK. Great voice and very talent guitarist. Her version of Jezebel by Edith Piaf is quite something.
Anna Calvi 'Blackout'

Ron Sexsmith: Long Player Late BloomerSeems to have been around forever without 'making it'. This album combines classic sounding elvis costello with teddy thompson style vocals.
Believe it When I See It

Monday, April 11, 2011

CTTB Podcast

I have plugged my podcast here before, but here goes again.

The Latest music review podcast from Pete and I - which the critics are calling our 'best yet' is now available. You can listen/stream on our site: , or better still subscribe in iTunes

THe latest is a little different as we go back in time to look at 'new' LPs from: Fleetwood Mac, The Clash, The Stranglers, Al Di Meola, Judas Priest and Blondie.

Do we prefer sides one or two? Do we think this punk / new wave thing will catch on? Will Fleetwood Mac sell any records? Will Scott mention Todd Rundgren? Find out.Listen now. The ideal soundtrack for a lazy sunny day.

Fan Community

Notice there is a site for people to set up own todd pages etc here

Thursday, April 07, 2011

False Idols?

Todd will be appearing in a producer role on American Idol on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 it seems. Time to talk about the old days with Randy Jackson, and talk parenting with Steven Tyler, I guess.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

David Johansen & Todd Rundgren: "Animal's Medley" 2011

New Song from Me

Decided to try and write a 'rock' song over the last month, and this is what I came up with. It's called, "Goodbye Hello" and features my nod to Jan Hammer in the Miami Vice influenced Synth on the Chorus [ see him and Al Di Meola playing my fav Jan tune Cruisin' here ]

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Musically Interesting

What records have caught my attention so far 2011??

The Decemberists - The King Is Dead

Going for a more folk/REM sound on this record (with a couple of blatant REM rip off tunes – but at least they get Peter Buck to help play them!). A string set of songs and an album that is a grower. Good vocal support from Gillian Welsh. [Visual Companion piece to album video]

Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts

This is their third album (and last if the band are to be believed). It sticks to the musical formula that the band created on their first album taking parts of hip-hop, 60s pop, brass bands and stage musicals and mixes it all up to make infectious pop music. Whilst it could be argued the trick is wearing thin, I think this is one of the more uplifting records of the year thus far. [Secretary Song video]

The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow

The Civil Wars are Joy Williams and John Paul White, and they make simple voice and guitar music that it at times quite beautiful. If you like the stripped down stuff Robert Plant has been up to of late, of just like good folk, then worth checking out. [Poison and Wine Video ]

Abigail Washburn - City of Refuge

With Fleet Foxes, Low Anthem and other set for new album this year, and The Civil Wars and Decemberists records already out, Folkie/country is where it is at in the first half of 2011. Because of that you really should check out this lady. Great voice , and some nice musical touches: esp if you like a bit of bluegrass and banjo! But also if you like the likes of Lizzie, there are also some more 'commercial' moments.
[Bright Morning Stars at The Slaughtered Lamb, London]

Gang of Four – Content

8th Album and first of new material for 16 years from seminal UK political indie band. Taking that into account it's amazing how good this is. Have influenced a lot of bands over the years, even if most people I know haven't heard of them! The whole jarring choppy guitar sound is still present, as is the angst on what for me is their best album since the their first couple back in the late 70s. [Never Pay for the farm on Letterman]

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Random Todd

Hello It’s Me is on the soundtrack to the new Simon Pegg/Nick Frost film – Paul. Meanwhile, US band, TV Girl sample this on their song 'If You Want It'

Friday, January 28, 2011

Utopia (Mark II) Reunion webcast

Utopia (Mark II) Reunion that is scheduled to take place at the Highline Ballroom this Saturday and Sunday (January 29th and 30th) will get a webcast. Nevessa Productions announced that they’ll be broadcasting the concert (the Jan. 30th show) via todocast starting February 2nd, on-demand for 30 days. So, get your credit cards out and order for $19.95.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mummers fade away

UK band The Mummers have a new EP out entitled 'Mink Hollow Road' which features a cover of Todd's Fade Away.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rundgren's myRecordFantasy camp album will be a covers record

According to this article in the Sacremento Bee, those auditioning to be on the new Todd album will be helping him record versions of songs by artists he's previously produced ... with a dance beat...

'Rundgren threw the campers a curve Monday by announcing that the songs they'd record on the Gigatone album – remakes of hits he produced for other artists such as the Psychedelic Furs' "Love My Way" and Meat Loaf's "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" – would be set to a dance beat to reflect contemporary radio.'

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Hold Steady release Live (acoustic) at Soho iTunes Session on January 18th.

They also contributed a new song "Just Saying" to the soundtrack of the The Dilemma.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

'The King Is Dead'

First Listen: The Decemberists, 'The King Is Dead' The band returns with a stripped-down record featuring Gillian Welch and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck [Calamity Song is pure Murmur period R.E.M], and the whole album can be listened to at NPR.

Hello 2011

Thanks to my regular reader - you know who you are! - for keeping an eye on the blog and anyone else who has dropped by over the last year. If you can't get enough of me then I do a music podcast (reviewing new albums) with a friend - Come Taste The Band, and I also do my own music that can be found on my Myspace site and also my own music site where tunes can be downloaded.

I will also continue to post Todd related and occasional "other" stuff in this new year, such as my views on Paul Myers' book - A Wizard a True Star.

Todd Rundgren's Utopia re-unite

Apparently, Todd Rundgren's Utopia - i.e. the original 1974 lineup: Rundgren, Klingman, Siegler, Schuckett and Ellman (plus Kasim) are doing a couple of gigs at the Highline Ballroom in New York City on January 29th and 30th.