A Todd Rundgren album can vary between pure pop to bossa nova, guitar rock to wild experimentation; like the proverbial box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get with the next Rundgren album. Released in 1989, the Nearly Human album is Todd at his best, a pop masterpiece of well-crafted songs performed impeccably, live-in-the-studio. “Parallel Lines” is one of the strongest cuts, initially written for an off-Broadway musical based on the script for a never-produced 3rd Beatles movie.

“Parallel Lines” (Todd Rundgren) Copyright 1989 Fiction Music, Inc./Todd Rundgren BMI

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70 years ago this month (June 2019), George Orwell’s “1984” was first published.  So let’s give George an ol’ Rock & Roll salute by looking at one of the many songs inspired by his book.  Sure, I could’ve done David Bowie’s “1984”, but that would be too easy.  I’m a big Utopia fan, so this is a good excuse to take a look at another one of their tracks.  It’s Utopia in dystopia!

For more 1984-inspired songs, check out Eurythmics “Ministry of Love”, Radiohead’s “2+2=5”, or “Standards” by The Jam, just to name a few.

“Winston Smith Takes It On The Jaw” (Utopia) Copyright 1983 Unearthly Music/Fiction Music (BMI) Terrestrial Music/Fourth Floor Music (ASCAP)

This is the episode where I try to explain why I think Todd Rundgren’s “Cliché” is the most beautiful song ever written.  Of course it’s all subjective, but I don’t know how anyone could deny the beauty and emotional resonance of this song.  I probably can’t do it justice, but here’s my attempt anyway.

“Cliché” (Todd Rundgren) Copyright 1976 Warner Publishing Corp.

I will admit that I can be prone to hyperbole, but I’m convinced this is The Best Album Of The 1980’s and one of the greatest albums of all time.  It is a perfect album.  A magnificent song cycle that reveals something new each time you listen to it.  A masterwork of songwriting and production.  I could go on…

This song is a blast of pure pop; catchy, clever and concise– 3 minutes and 20 seconds of pop genius.  It will make you smile.

NOTE: During the podcast, I reference “The Fool Guitar”.  More details on that legendary instrument can be found here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fool_(guitar)

“That’s Really Super, Supergirl” (Andy Partridge) Copyright 1986 Virgin Nymph Music, Inc (BMI) – Copyright 2010 Ape House Ltd

Living under The Beatles’ shadow was a blessing and a curse for Badfinger.  One of the greatest Power Pop bands of all time, they crafted a catalog of great songs that defined the genre.  “Day After Day” is one of the greatest singles of all time, featuring a beautiful melody, great performances, and a guest appearance by a Beatle.  What more could you want?  This song deserves a place in history.

“Day After Day” (Pete Ham) Copyright 1971 Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Utopia is back together for a reunion tour this Spring (2018), so there’s no better time to revisit one of their great songs. I think this era of Utopia pretty much invented “Progressive Pop” and this song is a great example of their songcraft and musical skills. See you on the road to Utopia! (And don’t forget to share this podcast with friends, leave comments on iTunes, etc. It really helps!) 

“The Road To Utopia” (Utopia) Copyright 1980 Fiction Music/Utopia (BMI)