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