This latest round of hardback book-style editions of Rundgren’s work shows our hero at extreme ends of his career, from naive balladeer and exuberant rocker to pioneer of intense proto-electronica. They also bookend one of the greatest album runs in pop history.
This version of his debut Runt (1970) (7⁄10) features the original LP as well as the fabled Alternative Runt in its entirety, with the breathtaking Laura Nyro-esque Say No More, a sketchy Hope I’m Around (which reappeared on his next album, The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren), a full-length Baby Let’s Swing and alternate takes and mixes of Believe In Me, Devil’s Bite and the epic Birthday Carol.
By 1975, Rundgren was hardly recognisable as the same artist, fully immersed as he was in Eastern philosophy and the twin possibilities of the synthesiser and the studio. The results were his sixth solo album, Initiation (6⁄10), at 68 minutes the longest LP ever made. It featured one side of typically diverse Todd-songs – including the Philly-in-space Real Man and faux-farewell, Fair Warning – while side two comprised his 36-minute foray into pure synth-mania, A Treatise On Cosmic Fire. An endurance test for fans, no wonder Rundgren wrote “thanks for buying the album” on the inner sleeve.
Runt-o-philes got their reward on 1978’s Hermit Of Mink Hollow (8⁄10), his most immediately appealing record since 1972’s Something/Anything? There are no extra tracks here, just lyrics, liner notes from Rundgren author Paul Myers, and an LP’s worth of Todd’s best toons./o:p