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The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect

Todd Rundgren

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Album Review

As the early '80s continued to unfold, Todd Rundgren grew increasingly disenchanted with Bearsville, especially since the label wasn't supporting Utopia. He wrangled the band free in 1982, but he still had to deliver solo records to Bearsville. Not entirely pleased with the situation, Rundgren hammered out a collection of pop songs on his own, cynically titling the effort The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect. In later years, Rundgren disavowed the album, but it stands as one of his better collections of pop songs, even if it lacks a theme or a unifying sound. There are a fair share of throwaways, not only coming in the expected form of covers (a fine but pointless remake of the Small Faces' "Tin Soldier") and Gilbert & Sullivan parodies ("Emperor of the Highway"), but also in the monumentally silly "Bang the Drum All Day," which not only became a hit, but a hit that refused to die, lasting as a radio staple into the late '90s. These three songs are anomalies on Tortured Artist, which for the most part is pure pop and pop-soul, delivered with little fuss or pretention. There's also little deep meaning to the songs themselves, which is quite unusual for Rundgren, yet the best tunes — "Hideaway," "Influenza," "There Goes Your Baybay," "Drive," "Chant" — are indelible, irresistible pop confections that prove Rundgren can be quite involving, even when he's not trying his hardest.

Biography

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...
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The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect, Todd Rundgren
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