Something/Anything

Becky asked me for a little timeline of bands she should listen to, of old stuff. I sent her this…

Here is a timeline of significant events in human history.

5 Billion Years Ago: The Big Bang

1972: Todd Rundgren realeases his double album masterpiece, Something/Anything.


Todd Rundgren was at one point the talented frontman of The Nazz, one of so many bands in the 60s who thought they could be something like this band called the Beatles. The Nazz were actually way better than the Beatles. At least they were for one glorious song, Open My Eyes, a song that sounds like Snow Patrol only in title.

The Nazz did three albums, called ‘Nazz‘, ‘Nazz Nazz‘ and then, just as you thought the third album would be called ‘Nazz Nazz Nazz’, they called it ‘Nazz 3‘. And by ‘they’ I mean everyone other than Todd, who left.

Todd did two fantastic solo albums, Runt (1970) and Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren (1972). ‘Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren‘ should not be confused with ‘Runt‘. Although it often is. That’s because it’s fucking confusing.

All that was like taking off your shoes and squishing your toes before the long, orgasmic glories of Something/Anything in 1972, released on Bearsville, a label out of Woodstock (the real one, not the fake one) run by Bob Dylan’s manager.

To be clear, it is a glorious ride of 70s radio rock. From Carole King ballads, Motown thumpers, Rolling stones rip-offs, New York Dolls like sex drenched glam, Rufus Wainwright show tunes with flutes – you put it on and you are on a trip through all that is great about music.

The album is split into four sides – each with a name.

First is a ‘Bouquet of Ear Catching Melodies‘. Which is exactly what it is. Take the best of the Beach Boys, the Cars, Queen, Chicago…all the greatest shiny over produced pop, and that’s what this start of the album is about.

This side, and the album itself, opens with the single lifted off the album – ‘I Saw The Light‘. Todd writes his own notes on the album, saying he thought it would be a great single, so he put it first on the album, like Motown. This confused me for many years, as I had a copy of the Bearsville pressing, but didn’t understand why he would write liner notes for himself. Then I realised people did that back then. Nowadays they wait for the reissue.

(Another reason Todd is better than everyone else)

It has such great tunes. It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference that was used in Almost Famous, and Wolfman Jack, a tribute to the legendary DJ.

Sides two is ‘The Cerebral Side‘. It starts with a spoken word skit, where Todd runs you through all the different glitches you can get in a studio (bad mastering, hiss, pops, etc). It’s plain weird, and lightly experimental. What a guy.

Third side is ‘Kid Gets Heavy‘. Now, I’ve heard Prince say he loves Todd Rundgren a lot, and seeing him recently, reminded me how great Prince is as a guitar playing, but he’s no Todd. Todd is the man. It’s the jam rock side. I mean, it’s a double record from the seventies. Expect jamming.

The first three sides of the album, Todd PLAYED EVERYTHING.

And he played everything better than anyone else.

That’s just the way he is. He is the Chuck Norris of 70s pop.

But, just to prove he has friends (because, we all know Calvin Harris has no friends), the final side of the album, brilliant named ‘Baby Needs a New Pair of Snakeskin Boots‘ is recorded live in the studio, raw and tough. From this side, we get the album’s other big hit, Hello It’s Me, which probably made it all the way to #30 or something, but was straight to the top of my personal charts, and has stayed their ever since.

The album ends with three of the weirdest songs. ‘Some Folks Are Even Whiter Than Me‘, which is horribly politically incorrect now, ‘You Left Me Sore‘, which is about sexually transmitted disease, and finally, the awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome rocker ‘Slut‘, where the whole band is singing along

“S-L-U-T
She may be a slut but she looks good to me!”

And another line about not keeping his hands to himself that I find quite funny. The trumpets groove the whole thing along, as Todd belts the tune out. Then it’s all over.

It’s a great album.

The original vinyl only has the word SOMETHING on one side, ANYTHING on the back. It has a stupidly cool looking photo of todd standing on a chair in his studio. He looks so damn cool, that if you held the gatefold cover up to the sun, it would stop global warming.


The album’s catalogue number is 8122711072.

End of timeline.


Mike Wieringo/Tony Wilson

So I’m really busy but just wanted to write a two things.

Tony Wilson passed away. I’m working in music in the UK and his legend looms large. Many people have told me amazing stories about him. I’ve enjoyed reading him interviewed, his writings and I adore his legacy. But there is no better tribute than the film 24 Hour Party People. Funny, that I’m working on a project now that is one of Tony’s. And I’ve been batling and struggling to get it done despite the ridiculous packaging, and someone pointed out – “That’s Tony.” The man who lost money on every Blue Monday single sold because it was the right thing to do.

Mike Wieringo also passed away. I’m not going to say he was a personal hero of mine or anything overblown. He drew many, many comics I loved. But more importantly, one of the greatest run of comics for me is the Mark Waid era of The Flash, that ran in my late teens. It’s such a mature, well written, loving, funny, epic run of a comic. It’s considered THE Flash era by many, and one of the best titles in that 90s comic explosion. And Mike was there. A great artist, with a great happy style that was so far away from like, the Punisher or Spawn. And when I think of that excellent run of the Flash, and then I see the Flash in my mind, it’s drawn by the hand of Mike Wieringo. That’s something.


Danny
London

An Unrecorded Song

I read a lot of biographies. My favourites are ones like Nick Drake – The Biography by Patrick Humphries. It’s full of interesting stuff – who knew that the tall skinny (and remarkably handsome) Drake was born in Burma? But it also has what may be a dying art in biography – a sense of mystery. He died so early, in such obscurity, no one kept records.

Are we the last generation of lost records? By records I mean official documentation. I’m pretty sure from 1990 or so there accurate records of every place I’ve ever lived. I’m sure if someone wanted, they could easily find all the places I’ve travelled, and when. There’s a computer somewhere that has every journey I’ve ever taken. Except maybe one trip from Korea to Taiwan where I was issued with a paper ticket. Maybe, that’s the one black mark.

And I like the black marks. I like not being able to join the dots sometimes. I like to think there are things that people never know about eachother.

This isn’t an anti big brother rant. This isn’t me walking down your street with a sandwich board saying the government is watching you. It’s just a belief that a life can be more than what can be assumed from documents, even interviews.

Have you tried googling yourself? Then, there are now myspaces and facebooks. Facebook, you can even tag photos with people’s names. There are many photos of me I’ve never seen. Then there’s Youtube! How long before you’re there, in the background of someone’s camera phone.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I like a bit of mystery. It doesn’t feel like I can do much these days without people knowing about it. Which is fine. But sometimes, when you are somewhere, and you realise, no one knows where you are, or what you are doing, can be a beautiful moment.

I have to believe that there will always be mysteries in the world. That we cannot be captured simply by the tracks we leave behind. And that there are things in the world that cannot be looked up in Wikipedia.

They put out another Nick Drake collection this year (in the same month there was ‘new’ releases by Elliott Smith and Jeff Buckley). I didn’t get it, but I have plenty of Drake boots. He did a lot of covers and just jamming stuff. I have to believe that maybe there is a beautiful song he wrote and played that maybe is never recorded, that I’ll never hear. I have his three albums, and about 10 other collections, boots, demos and stuff. And after all that, I want to be able to say that it was just a part of his bag of tunes.

No one knows if Nick Drake’s death was an accident or if it was deliberate. I don’t want to know. I don’t ever want to know everything. I want to keep guessing.

Danny
London