A Wizard, a True Star
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|A Wizard, a True Star|
|Studio album by Todd Rundgren|
|Released||March 2, 1973|
|Studio||Secret Sound Studio, New York City|
|Todd Rundgren chronology|
|Singles from A Wizard, a True Star|
Music and production
The album, and especially the first side of the vinyl recording, is an extended medley; brief songs segue into one another, and the lyrics are frequently humorous or hallucinatory. The first side features a cover version of "Never Never Land" from the Broadway version of Peter Pan; the second side features a medley of covers of R&B hits.
The album's especially long playing time (55:56) pushed the limits of how much music could fit on a long-playing record. Each side of the record is 6 to 7 minutes longer than a typical album. Therefore the groove on each side has to be narrower, causing a significant drop in volume level and sound quality. Rundgren acknowledged this issue on the album's inner sleeve, which was packed with his handwritten notes. To compensate, he advised listeners to turn up the volume on their speakers. 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. Compact disc and tape versions of the album are not affected by the same volume level issues as vinyl.
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
Arthur Wood made the painting that is featured on the cover.
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. 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 any of these extras, and the cover was a standard square cover (in lieu of the curly-cut corners of the earlier cover).
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.
Writing in Creem, Patti Smith said: "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." The closing song, "Just One Victory," soon became a fixture on FM radio, an anthem to close many of Todd's concerts. Decades after its release the album is still influential, having been cited as a source of inspiration for Tame Impala's Lonerism.
All songs written by Todd Rundgren except as indicated.
- Side one – "The International Feel (in 8)"
- "International Feel" – 2:50
- "Never Never Land" (Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Jule Styne) – 1:34
- "Tic Tic Tic It Wears Off" (Instrumental) – 1:14
- "You Need Your Head" – 1:02
- "Rock & Roll Pussy" – 1:08
- "Dogfight Giggle" – 1:05
- "You Don't Have to Camp Around" – 1:03
- "Flamingo" (Instrumental) – 2:34
- "Zen Archer" – 5:35
- "Just Another Onionhead/Da da Dali" – 2:23
- "When the Shit Hits the Fan/Sunset Blvd." – 4:02
- "Le Feel Internacìonále" – 1:51
- Side two – "A True Star"
- "Sometimes I Don't Know What to Feel" – 4:16
- "Does Anybody Love You?" – 1:31
- "Medley: I'm So Proud / Ooh Baby Baby / La La Means I Love You / Cool Jerk" (Curtis Mayfield, Smokey Robinson, Warren "Pete" Moore (credited to Al Cleveland and Renaldo "Obie" Benson), William Hart, Thom Bell, Donald Storball) – 10:34
- "Hungry for Love" – 2:18
- "I Don't Want to Tie You Down" – 1:56
- "Is It My Name?" – 4:01
- "Just One Victory" – 4:59
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.
- Todd Rundgren – vocals, guitars, keyboards
- Michael Brecker – saxophone
- Randy Brecker – horn
- Rick Derringer – guitar
- Mark "Moogy" Klingman – keyboards
- Jean-Yves "M. Frog" Labat – synthesizer
- Barry Rogers – trombone
- David Sanborn – saxophone
- Ralph Schuckett – keyboards
- John Siegler – bass guitar, cello
- John Siomos – drums
|1973||Billboard Pop Albums||86|
- "allmusic (Todd Rundgren > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2011). "A Wizard, A True Star - Todd Rundgren | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
- Christgau, Robert (2011). "Robert Christgau: CG: Artist 1593". robertchristgau.com. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
- "Todd's Electric Exploitation: Rock and Roll for the Skull," Creem, April 1973, p.56-57.