The Ballad of Todd Rundgren

Review by Ed Grieze (Switch to

"Nothing can compare with simple grace." Perhaps this line best describes The Ballad of Todd Rundgren. Todd's second solo album is pure unadulterated Todd - before Todd got too smart. Ballad is not weighed down by dense production or cryptic material. It is more fluent than its predecessor Runt, which sounds rushed at points. And it's more honest than pop factory Something/Anything.

LONG FLOWING ROBE. Todd sets the album's theme of young angst. Todd is chasing her in the long flowing robe, and in the last verse she appears at the bedroom door. Another turn of the story at the end, as often found in Todd lyrics.

THE BALLAD OF DENNY AND JEAN. Todd pulled this one out live during one of his 80's solo tours and likened it to "baby pictures," a term which with hindsight aptly describes his first three solo albums. Denny and Jean carries a beautiful melody, one of many on this album. I take his comment as referring to the lyrics.

BLEEDING. A bit of the TR cynicism here; "If you lose your hand, you got another one." Apparently about Vietnam. The music is somewhat Nazzish. Plenty of guitar.

WAILING WALL. Beautiful melody and piano. The story line goes from "she" to "them" to "me."

RANGE WAR. Todd's one country tune. With another nice melody underneath. Lyrics and music accompany one another well.

CHAIN LETTER. I've always liked this one too, as some others have written. Extreem channel effect. Lyrics and music again relate well.

A LONG TIME, A LONG WAY TO GO. Yet another great melody established in this short tune. A return to the angst theme.

BOAT ON THE CHARLES. "It's just about time I let my insides show." The young angst continues to spill in this Beantown setting.

BE NICE TO ME. Todd's tired and fed up. A nice tune. But perhaps "Long Flowing Robe" was a better choice for the single.

HOPE I'M AROUND. I was once scribbling some lyrics until I realized this was coming out. This song's always a memory trigger for me.

PAROLE. Like "Is It My Name," "Out of Control," "Drive," and "Word Made Flesh," the second to last album cut is a rocker. "I got to get my dose of Rock and Roll." Gotta love that that guitar riff!

REMEMBER ME. Remember who? Did he know the next album would be a pop sensation and things wouldn't be the same?

Todd's first three solo albums were indeed "baby pictures" of a genius talent during his early development. He would do more interesting and challenging things later. But of his many projects, perhaps _The Ballad of Todd Rundgren_ showcases his basic musical talents the clearest. Nothing can compare with simple grace.

- ED

P.S. I'll always remember George Lazares' description of Ballad as "the best album Billy Joel never made."

Other reviews for Runt. The Ballad of Todd Rundgren

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