Subscriber article

Low Culture Podcast: Colin Newman On Todd Rundgren’s A Wizard / A True Star

Our subscriber podcast is back, this month featuring Colin Newman discussing Todd Rundgren's A Wizard / A True star with Luke Turner and Jennifer Lucy Allan

In the tenth Quietus Low Culture podcast, Luke Turner and Jennifer Lucy Allan are joined by Colin Newman of Wire, Githead and Immersion to discuss Todd Rundgren’s out of place and out of time 1973 album A Wizard / True Star, a bewildering yet beguiling complex blend of psychedelia, synth pop, guitar-based prog, surreal lyricism, children’s stories, alien invaders and a glorious soul medley. Colin Newman tells us about how he discovered the record as an art student in Winchester, how it changed his life, and how Rundgren is the only artist who made him cry at a gig.

Newman tells us how as a ten-year-old “I was very pretentious when I was a kid, I already had my theories about music. I used to think that records by the Beatles and anything on Motown couldn’t be improved on, but there were other artists who could do with my help”. Rundgren’s bewildering cross-genre enthusiasm made him a radical outlier in the mid-70s, when synthesisers were still seen, as Newman tells us, as “a bit dodgy”, and fitted in perfectly with Newman’s desire for complex sounds and fascination with production.

Of course, Colin Newman made his name with Wire on the fringes on the punk movement, notorious for its reactionary belief that anything as ornate as Rundgren was ideologically suspect. Newman, however, never wavered: “all those people who thought punk was year zero – what rubbish. I continued to champion early Genesis records, I never thought for one second that the world had been recreated by the Ramones.”

Newman also enthuses about his love of contemporary music, artists such as Enny, Yasmin Williams and Frank Birtwhistle, and we also have a Low Culture chat about what we’re into this month, with Jen picking a mysterious new record from Leather Rats, and Luke intrigued by the new Alan Partridge series satire of Garden Centre Nationalism. Thanks as ever to our producer Alannah Chance, and all our subscribers for funding this podcast.

To become a Quietus Low Culture or Sound & Vision subscriber and listen to the podcast, use the Steady checkout below. You can find out more about how our subscriber system works here.

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today