Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Todd Rundgren
A Wizard, A True Star

Released 1973 on Bearsville
Reviewed by paynim, 06/06/2000ce

This is an album that polarizes everyone. You either hate it, love it, or just plain don't GET it. And even those who love it can't decide what bits are the best. At the core it's a Beatle-y, Beach Boys-y ambition that takes many twists and turns, but only sometimes reaching those George Martinesque heights. It's funny, sad, funky, proggy, perfectly muddled.

I believe Runt over-remixed it, because the end result is super-phasey but cartoony-small, accidental lo-fi from the tape being too thin at the end of mixdown. Runt makes the bold statement right off with "International Feel", a funky psychedelic groove with overloud drums, jerky sitars, and moogs aplenty. The Peter Pan pastiche is neither here nor there, but next comes a psychotic medley. "Tictictic" has a driving groove with honky trumpets and moog scrapes like DJ scratching. "You Need Your Head" is Runt going Riot-era Sly with everything distorting. "Rock n' Roll Pussy" is both cock-in-hand and tongue-in-cheek Utopia. An extended sound collage of dogs copulating and we're off again. "Zen Archer" is achingly beautiful and saccharine with, believe it or not, a decent David Sandborn sax solo.

Side Two abandons the acid for the soul medleys of "LaLaLaLa" into an odd-metre "Cool Jerk". But suddenly the acid's back with "Is It My Name?" another Utopian affair a-la "Pussy".

Runt toys with each pop song so that each verse and chorus is just a little different than the last while bringing his pop sensibility to the fore of his synthesizer swells and tape loops. It has a skewed continuity that doesn't always keep you there but maybe wakes you up before you get bored.

But is it art? Well, some of it's a little too cheeky ("Just Another Onionhead"/"Da-Da-Dali"), but there's a little bit here for everyone. Like Cope said about Faust, sometimes shooting for the stars is more important than actually reaching them. It's slick/crappy quality is lo-fi before it's time, and it's Runt's best compromise of Philly Soul and Utopian "rawk fusions". This record makes me want to write music, because Runt is both reckless and fastidious at the same time. A real wizard and a true star flies high and crashes hard with pride. Runt never shows pride like this again, much to all our chagrins.

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