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Baker's Dozen

Harmonic Worlds: Colin Newman's 13 Favourite Albums
Ben Graham , July 17th, 2018 10:09

The Immersion, Wire and Githead founder member chooses a list that goes from minimalism to maximalism, via Steve Reich, LFO and Todd Rundgren, and tells Ben Graham how Britpop was rubbish but The Beatles have never sounded better


Todd Rundgren - A Wizard, A True Star
This is when I was at Art School, on foundation, in Winchester. I went early for the term that starts around May, wandered into town and the local record shop was having a sale. There were two records I bought cheap that day: A Wizard, A True Star by Todd Rundgren, and Can't Buy A Thrill by Steely Dan. Those two records I must've listened to a billion times. A Wizard, A True Star is a truly bonkers record. I don't know if someone who didn't know anything about Todd Rundgren could go back and listen to it today and get anything about it. It starts with 'International Feel' with this semi-cosmic synth riff, which goes down through beats into this song with really loud drums on it, and then peters out and suddenly it's the song from The Wizard Of Oz! But that's Rundgren, really. I just sat in my room and listened to it thinking "this is fantastic!" Mild hallucinogens may be useful in its appreciation.

Mike Barnes, the journalist, is a friend of mine and a few years back we went to see Todd Rundgren play A Wizard, A True Star live in its entirety. And what Mike said about Todd is you just have to go with it, basically. It doesn't make any sense. It goes from the sublime to the ridiculous, and there almost seems to be no taste filter with Todd. There's a book called Todd Rundgren In The Studio, and he's supposed to be this studio wizard but you realise after reading it that he's completely slapdash! He's such a messy producer! He made a huge amount of money out of Bat Out Of Hell, but he got kicked off the project as a producer because they didn't like any of his mixes. But he believed in the project so much he invested in it, and ended up taking a percentage on it and made a fortune from it. That shows that he's someone who is smart but won't necessarily attend to details, and will still maintain goodwill towards a project he's been sacked from. I like that; I admire that.

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