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One Long Year

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Album Review

During the last quarter of the '90s, Todd Rundgren spent much of his time on the Internet, distributing music and previews of his in-progress autobiography through his net service, Patronet. Hence, the appearance of One Long Year, a disc that collects highlights from the Patronet service, plus a couple odds and ends. Technically, it doesn't have a cohesive concept like With a Twist or TR-I, but that's fine, because its patchwork quality is not only charming, it results in a ragged, multifaceted pop charmer reminiscent of 1982's The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect. Like that album, One Long Year boasts a fair share of sparkling pop gems. This time around, it's not quite as pop oriented or tuneful, since there are a re-recording of "Love of the Common Man" and a cut-and-paste instrumental ("Mary and the Holy Ghost") among the rockers, ballads, and pop tunes. This may result in choppy momentum, but diehards are much more likely to appreciate these quirks rather than be alienated by them. They'd be right to accept them, since the gems are things to embrace. "I Hate My Frickin ISP" may be a goofy rant at Internet service providers, but it has a hook and it rocks, just like the cheerfully sleazy "Yer Fast (And I Like It)." It doesn't all drive hard, however, there are sweet moments like "Buffalo Grass" and "The Surf Talks" that give the album an appealing sheen. True, this doesn't really make One Long Year a classic — even a second-tier Rundgren classic like, say, Tortured Artist — but it is a highly enjoyable patchwork that illustrates that Rundgren remains a restless musical experimenter and a first-class pop craftsman. And that's enough for anybody that's curious about a new Rundgren album in 2000.


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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One Long Year, Todd Rundgren
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