008 (feat. Dave Weigel): Todd Rundgren - A Wizard, a True Star (1973)
“The birth was painful, but the baby is beautiful.”
—by far the nicest thing XTC’s Andy Partridge has said about Todd Rundgren as a producer
Discord & Rhyme is excited to welcome its first guest co-host! David Weigel is a politics reporter for the Washington Post, but more importantly for our nefarious purposes, he is the author of the truly excellent progressive rock history The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock. But this episode is also a reunion: Dave used to geek out about music with your hosts on the teeny-tiny ‘90s music websites we lovingly called the Web Reviewing Community (WRC). And today, he’s geeking out with us all over again by helping us tear apart Todd Rundgren’s A Wizard, a True Star, track by minute-long track.
Producer wunderkind Rundgren’s maddening 1973 opus is many things to many people. To Mike, today’s host, it’s the album that best captures the true spirit and intent of psychedelia. To Dave, it’s one of the seeds of his own prog rock obsession. To Rich, it’s equal parts drug trip pressed to vinyl and giddy, hysterical prank. To Ben, it’s a suite of beautiful melodies marred by Rundgren’s penchant for giggles and electronic farts. And to Amanda, it’s creative but intensely irritating, so she has chosen to sit out as commentator and serve as this episode’s Statler, Waldorf, and Kermit. No matter your perspective, there is truly no album like A Wizard, a True Star, and this episode is quite a wild ride.
Discord & Rhyme has launched a Patreon! If you like what we’re doing and want to support the podcast, visit patreon.com/discordpod to chuck some spare change into the tip jar.
You should all read Dave’s excellent book, The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock. Even if you’re not a prog fan, it’s a terrific overview of the genre and packed full of interesting information about the music scene in that period.
Speaking of great books, you should also read co-host Benjamin Marlin’s latest: All the Days of His Life: Listening to David Bowie, Song by Song, for which he struggled through both Tin Machine albums. He does it all for you.
Amanda doesn’t actually hate this album quite as much she pretended to, and actually sort of likes “Zen Archer,” but don’t tell anyone. (She does find the album very annoying and/or boring.)
“Todd is God” was a real thing. The ‘70s were weird, man.
A Wizard, a True Star: Todd Rundgren in the Studio, Paul Myers’ excellent Todd Rundgren production biography
Rundgren’s 1973 performance of “Hello, It’s Me” from The Midnight Special, wearing what his then-girlfriend Bebe Buell called his "man-eating peacock outfit."
Discord & Rhyme Roll Call
Mike DeFabio (host)
Amanda Rodgers (moderator)
David Weigel (special guest)
A Wizard, A True Star tracklist
Never Never Land
Tic Tic Tic It Wears Off
You Need Your Head
Rock and Roll P***y
You Don’t Have to Camp Around
Just Another Onionhead/Da Da Dali
When the Sh*t Hits the Fan/Sunset Boulevard
Le Feel Internacionale
Sometimes I Don’t Know What to Feel
Does Anybody Love You?
Medley: I’m So Proud/Ooh Baby Baby/La La Means I Love You/Cool Jerk
Hungry for Love
I Don’t Want to Tie You Down
Is It My Name?
Just One Victory
Other clips used
Hello, It’s Me
I Saw the Light
We Gotta Get You a Woman
Bang the Drum all Day
Couldn’t I Just Tell You
The Nazz - Open My Eyes
Boris/Merzbow - Woman on the Screen
Frank Ocean - Solo
Gwen Stefani - Hollaback Girl
“Weird Al” Yankovic - One of Those Days
Fine Young Cannibals - Good Thing
Billy Bragg - Just One Victory
Songs we mentioned but didn’t clip
Strawberry Fields Forever
Song of the Viking
Utopia - Love in Action
The Beatles - I Feel Fine
The Beatles - There’s a Place
The Beatles - You Won’t See Me
The Beatles - Carry That Weight
Mary Martin - Never Never Land
Michael Jackson - Man in the Mirror
Prince - Raspberry Beret
Nick Lowe - Cruel to Be Kind
Steve Reich - It’s Gonna Rain
Funkadelic - One Nation Under a Groove
Todd Rundgren – vocals, guitars, keyboards, synthesizers, bass, percussion, horns, various electronic effects, production
Jean-Yves "M. Frog" Labat – VCS 3 synthesizer, woodwinds
Mark "Moogy" Klingman – keyboards, organ, piano, electric piano, glockenspiel
Ralph Schuckett – keyboards, organ, RMI, clavinet, accordion
John Siegler – bass guitar, cello
John Siomos – drums, percussion
Rick Derringer – bass, electric, pedal steel guitars
Michael Brecker – saxophone
Randy Brecker – trumpet
Barry Rogers – trombone
David Sanborn – saxophone
"Buffalo" Bill Gelber – bass guitar on “Just One Victory”
Tom Cosgrove – guitar on “Just One Victory”
“Discord & Rhyme (theme),” composed by the Other Leading Brand, contains elements of:
Amon Düül II - Dehypnotized Toothpaste
The Dukes of Stratosphear - What in the World?? ...
Faith No More - Midlife Crisis
Herbie Hancock - Hornets
Kraftwerk - Autobahn
Talking Heads - Seen and Not Seen
Todd Rundgren - International Feel (this episode only)
You can buy or stream A Wizard, a True Star and other albums by Todd Rundgren at the usual suspects such as Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, and Amazon. Follow Discord & Rhyme on Twitter @DiscordPod for news, updates, and other random stuff. Follow Rich @zonetrope, Amanda @MagneticInk67, Ben @BenjaminM1019, and Dave @daveweigel. Special thanks to our own Mike DeFabio, the Other Leading Brand, for production, editing, and his spirited defense of a complicated album. See you next album, and be ever wonderful.