Another double album, and this time it’s weaker than A Wizard, A True Star and Something/Anything? From a cynical perspective a lot of the material on Todd is flaky instrumentals, where Rundgren shows off his growing fascination with synthesisers, or sentimental ballads that sound cooler than they are actually are as they’re meshed between flaky synth instrumentals. Of course, there’s lots of other cool stuff hidden among the double album sprawl, like the Gilbert & Sullivan cover ‘Lord Chancellor’s Nightmare Song’ or the anthemic closer ‘Sons Of 1984’, but I could cut Todd down to a single disc without missing too much.
Even if Rundgren’s experimentation is going off the deep end here, he’s still capable of creating gorgeous pop melodies like the pretty ‘A Dream Goes On Forever’ and the majestic, half-instrumental ‘Don’t You Ever Learn’. ‘Izzat Love?’ is superficially simple, but it’s the product of a pop mastermind, packing ridiculous numbers of key changes, tempo changes, and shifting time signatures into less than 2 minutes. The cock rock of ‘Heavy Metal Kids’ (“When I die I’ll probably come back as a Sherman tank”) also shows up the lack of Rundgren’s guitar in some of the other tracks. I’m sure there are lots of Rundgren fans who regard Todd as a masterpiece on the level of A Wizard, A True Star, but in my eyes it’s too disjointed to reach anywhere near the same heights.
In its favour though, there are plenty of great moments over its 66 minutes – a forty minute version of the album could potentially rival Something/Anything as my second favourite Rundgren record.