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Anthology (1968-1985)

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Album Review

The flagship of Rhino's Todd Rundgren reissue series was Anthology (1968-1985), a double-disc set that traced the rock & roll maverick's career from the Nazz through his decade-and-a-half with Bearsville Records. Designed as the definitive statement of Rundgren's solo work (his work with Utopia received its own Anthology), Anthology (1968-1985) comes very close to fulfilling its goal. Since it covers so much ground, it's inevitable that a few essential items and fan favorites are missing, especially since Rundgren was incredibly prolific during these 17 years. And it is true that early masterpieces like "I'm in the Clique," "Once Burned," "Chain Letter," "The Range War" and "Long Flowing Robe" are missing, as are several highlights from Something/Anything?, but in their place are stronger tracks from less consistent albums, which makes it a nice retrospective for converted fans who want a comprehensive compilation to supplement the acknowledged classics. That said, the curious or casual listener may find Anthology a bit too sprawling for their tastes, even it does provide an excellent summary of Rundgren's heyday as a cult recording artist. In that case, Rhino's The Very Best of Todd Rundgren is a good choice, since it is a more concise collection that contains all the hits and rock-bottom essentials, plus several Utopia cuts and "The Want of a Nail."


Born: 22 June 1948 in Upper Darby, PA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Todd Rundgren's best-known songs -- the Carole King pastiche "I Saw the Light," the ballads "Hello, It's Me" and "Can We Still Be Friends," and the goofy novelty "Bang on the Drum All Day" -- suggest that he is a talented pop craftsman, but nothing more than that. On one level, that perception is true since he is undoubtedly a gifted pop songwriter, but at his core, Rundgren is a rock & roll maverick. Once he had a taste of success with his 1972 masterwork Something/Anything?, Rundgren chose to abandon...
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