Two kinds of older pop music. Some you never want to hear again. Some that you never want to stop listening to, because it has qualities that make it—not to sound cliched but here it goes—timeless. Timeless doesn’t mean current, just music that transcends currency.
If Todd Rundgren was just a producer, he’d still be an all-time great, by producing distinctive albums that sold millions and millions (Grand Funk Railroad’s We’re an American Band or Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell), by producing albums that were critical darlings (XTC’s Skylarking), or by influencing generations of artists.
But he isn’t just a producer. Beginning in 1967 with his first band Nazz and later as a band leader and solo artist, he has shone as a song creator and performer. Never more notably than with his 1972 double album Something/Anything. It is stuffed with tracks, a some of them less than perfect and maybe skippable after a few listenings, but many others gems of songwriting and production. Also, since it includes studio outtakes, you can hear just how much fun is being had.
Following are just a couple of tracks, including his re-recording of the first Nazz hit from 1968, Hello It’s Me. Pay attention to how these are models of songwriting and production. Then listen to the whole album.
Note that even though he has been eligible for the Rock Hall since 1993, his induction in the class of 2021 was just announced a few weeks ago. The too frequent irrelevance of the Rock Hall (still second to the irrelevance of the Grammys) is not worth spending time on. Just listen and enjoy.