A Wizard, a True Star

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A Wizard, A True Star
Rundgren wizard.png
Studio album by Todd Rundgren
Released March 2, 1973 (1973-03-02)
Recorded 1972–1973
Studio Secret Sound Studio, New York City
Genre Art pop, avant-pop, experimental rock, progressive pop
Length 55:56
Label Bearsville BR-2133
Producer Todd Rundgren
Todd Rundgren chronology
Something/Anything?
(1972)
A Wizard, a True Star
(1973)
Todd
(1974)
Singles from A Wizard, a True Star
  1. "Sometimes I Don't Know What to Feel"
    Released: April 1973

A Wizard, a True Star is the fourth solo album by Todd Rundgren, released in 1973. The album peaked on the Billboard 200 album chart at number 86.[1]

Music and production[edit]

The first side of the album consists of an extended suite called "The International Feel (in 8)"; the component songs segue into one another, and the lyrics are frequently humorous or hallucinatory.

The album's especially long playing time (55:56) pushed the limits of how much music could fit on a LP record. Each side is much longer than the typical 17 to 20 minutes of a typical album. Therefore, the groove spacing is narrower, causing a significant drop in volume and sound quality. Rundgren acknowledged this issue on the album's inner sleeve. He advised listeners (presumably in jest) to turn up the volume on their speakers to compensate. The first vinyl release was mastered by noted audio engineer Robert "Bob" Ludwig at Sterling Sound and is identifiable by the notation "STERLING RL" written in the run-out grooves.

Four of the musicians featured on the album – Klingman, Labat, Shuckett and Siegler – would go on to be core players in the early version of Rundgren's band Todd Rundgren's Utopia.

Packaging and artwork[edit]

Arthur Wood made the painting that is featured on the cover. Arthur included cryptic symbols in his cover art that, when deciphered, spell out the following messages:

  • "I, Arthur Wood, painted this."
  • "Be true to your words, and your words will be true to you."
  • "Be true to yourself and your work."
  • "I will be as true to you as I can."
  • "Tenderness is the secret to love, as far as I can see. -- Todd Rundgren"

First issues of the vinyl LP included a postcard encouraging purchasers to send in their names to be included on a poster in Todd's next album, and was die-cut with curly corners. Also included was a "band aid" poem written by Patti Smith which was a bio about the album. Reissues of the vinyl LP did not include these extras, and the cover was a standard square cover.

Live performances[edit]

In late 2009 and early 2010, Rundgren began touring the album after hearing it had a new audience of young fans (most famously the British electropop band Hot Chip). The idea originated with a promoter in London but when he didn't make an offer for the tour, two fans from RundgrenRadio.com, a fan-based internet radio program, started a limited U.S. tour of the album in 2009 which was followed the next year by two shows in Europe.[2]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[3]
Christgau's Record Guide B–[4]
Creem B+[5]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[6]
MusicHound Rock 5/5[7]
Record Collector 4/5 stars[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[9]

In Rolling Stone, James Isaacs wrote, "I doubt that even the staunchest Rundgren cultists will want to subject themselves to most of the japery on side one, which would be better suited for a cartoon soundtrack. One the other hand, side two's restraint, its brimming good humor and its ambience of innocence is irresistible, and helps save A Wizard, A True Star from total disaster."[10] Writing in Creem, Robert Christgau deemed Rundgren "a minor songwriter with major woman problems who's good with the board and has a sense of humor".[5] Patti Smith was more enthusiastic in her review for the magazine: "Blasphemy even the gods smile on. Rock and roll for the skull. A very noble concept. Past present and tomorrow in one glance. Understanding through musical sensation. Todd Rundgren is preparing us for a generation of frenzied children who will dream in animation."[11] In MusicHound Rock (1996), Christopher Scapelliti called the record "a fascinating sonic collage that skews his pop-star image 180 degrees".[7] Ben Sisario, on the other hand, wrote in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004) that it was "an endurance test of stylistic diversity, with just three fully realized songs ('Sometimes I Don't Know What to Feel,' 'International Feel,' and 'Just One Victory') stranded in the midst of so much half-baked sonic decoration."[9]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Todd Rundgren except where noted.

Side one – "The International Feel (in 8)"

  1. "International Feel" – 2:50
  2. "Never Never Land" (Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Jule Styne) – 1:34
  3. "Tic Tic Tic It Wears Off" – 1:14
  4. "You Need Your Head" – 1:02
  5. "Rock and Roll Pussy" – 1:08
  6. "Dogfight Giggle" – 1:05
  7. "You Don't Have to Camp Around" – 1:03
  8. "Flamingo" – 2:34
  9. "Zen Archer" – 5:35
  10. "Just Another Onionhead/Da da Dali" – 2:23
  11. "When the Shit Hits the Fan/Sunset Blvd." – 4:02
  12. "Le Feel Internacionale" – 1:51

Total length: 26:21

Side two – "A True Star"

  1. "Sometimes I Don't Know What to Feel" – 4:16
  2. "Does Anybody Love You?" – 1:31
  3. "Medley" – 10:34
  4. "Hungry for Love" – 2:18
  5. "I Don't Want to Tie You Down" – 1:56
  6. "Is It My Name?" – 4:01
  7. "Just One Victory" – 4:59

Total length: 29:35

Notes

  • White Label DJ copies include a censored version of "When the Shit Hits the Fan/Sunset Blvd.", replacing "shit" with a synthesizer sound and does not include the song "Does Anybody Love You".
  • The original cassette tape release of the album reverses sides one and two of the LP, in order to sequence the longer side first. The Bearsville/Warner Bros. cassette reissues from 1983 play out of sequence; side one plays side one but lists side two's tracks.

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Album

Year Chart Position
1973 Billboard 200 86[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "allmusic (Todd Rundgren > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-04-27. 
  2. ^ AWATSlive.com
  3. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2011). "A Wizard, A True Star - Todd Rundgren | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Todd Rundgren". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 0-89919-025-1. Retrieved October 15, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (August 1973). "The Christgau Consumer Guide". Creem. Retrieved October 15, 2016. 
  6. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Todd Rundgren". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0857125958. 
  7. ^ a b Scapelliti, Christopher (1996). "Todd Rundgren". In Graff, Gary. MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Detroit: Visible Ink Press. ISBN 0787610372. 
  8. ^ "Todd Rundgren - Wizard, A True Star CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved October 15, 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Sisario, Ben (2004). "Todd Rundgren". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon and Schuster. p. 707. ISBN 0743201698. 
  10. ^ Isaacs, James (May 10, 1973). "Review". Rolling Stone. 
  11. ^ "Todd's Electric Exploitation: Rock and Roll for the Skull," Creem, April 1973, p.56-57.