Artist: Todd Rundgren
Label (Year): Bearsville (1972)
For Fans of: Big Star, Carole King, Steely Dan, Laura Nyro
Words by Eddie Swales
Todd Rundgren’s (de facto) third solo album was his most successful and accessible effort of a prolific career. An ambitious double album, the music is entirely performed and produced by Rundgren himself, save for the final side. Having begun his career in the cult psychedelic band Nazz a few years earlier and later veering towards progressive rock, Something/Anything? represents a period in Rundgren’s career characterised by well-crafted and richly produced pop songs.
Rundgren’s songwriting prowess on breezy pop tracks like the opening ‘I Saw the Light’, led some to dub him the male Carole King, whilst the concise, guitar-driven ‘Couldn’t I Just Tell You’ has been cited as an early example of power pop. But perhaps the most striking aspect of the album is the rich, layered production, particularly evident in the more melancholy tracks, such as ‘Cold Morning Light’ and ‘Sweeter Memories’. The 23-year old Rundgren had already established a reputation as an accomplished music producer, having produced albums for The Band, Badfinger, and Sparks. He would later work with acts as diverse as the New York Dolls and Hall & Oates.
Something/Anything? is that rare double album that doesn’t leave you wishing the artist had been a little less self-indulgent and whittled it down to 40 minutes of gold. The listener may wonder whether certain tracks might have been left out, perhaps the goofy ‘Piss Aaron’, or a short interlude in which Rundgren introduces us to “sounds of the studio”, but even these somewhat throwaway tracks contribute to the album’s eclectic and good-humoured vibe.