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A Wizard, A True Star

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Editors’ Notes

Todd Rundgren’s first three solo albums showed moments of experimentation, but the songs had always been rooted into piano and guitar-driven song structures. A Wizard, A True Star blasts those structures apart. Most of the album features one-minute song bites, loaded with sound effects and layers of keyboard. The absurdist lyrics are both incisive and hilarious, and even when the pieces are more like sound collages than songs — as with “Dogfight Giggle,” for example — you can’t help but be titillated by Rundgren’s glee. While many of the era’s so-called “progressive rock” albums got bogged down by virtuosity, A Wizard, A True Star provides thrills and amusements at every turn. “International Feel,” “Tic Tic Tic, It Wears Off,” “Does Anybody Love You?” and “Just One Victory” are among his catchiest songs, while his medley of ‘60s sweet soul tunes is among his most sincere performances. Though misunderstood in its time, the widescreen imagination of A Wizard, A True Star would come to influence the kaleidoscopic rock ‘n’ roll of younger bands like Flaming Lips and MGMT.

Customer Reviews

Rock Candy

This is brilliant uneasy listening. This is like sticking your hand into a jar of rock-candy only to find out it is broken glass. Sick lyrics, unorthodox song transitions, challenging melodies that are oblique, angular, and ultimately subversive in their sometime lite radio garb. I didn't know what to make of it on the first listen, but I couldn't stop playing it over and over. This is only my first Rundgren experience - I am excited to go deeper.

My introduction to TR

In 1974 my neighbor let me borrow this album, and it became one of my favorites. I got an IPod for Christmas, and what was the first album downloaded, you guessed it, “A Wizard, A True Star”. Now at 46 years, I still am amazed at the complexity in TRs music, and fully appreciate this work. I don’t know how to explain it, but I get a contact high every time I listen to “International Feel” and the whole album for that matter. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where TR was popular, but now in California, I don’t find many my age who has heard his work. I recommend this album if you can relate to “That 70’s Show”, and like experimental music. Great!

Todd - Pure Todd

To be a teen with A Wizard, A True Star..... When Sometimes you didn't know what to feel, was exactly the point. This is part of the vinyl that takes you back, a must have, must listen.


Born: June 22, 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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