Wednesday, 26 October 2016

"Runt: Deluxe Edition" by TODD RUNDGREN (September 2014 Edsel 'Deluxe Edition' 2CD Reissue/Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Post Hanging Days..."

Back in May 2014 - Edsel of the UK began celebrating TODD RUNDGREN albums with 'Deluxe Edition' packaging upgrades - hardback book editions of key albums in his extensive back catalogue. The first three were "Something/Anything?" (a double-album from 1972), "A Wizard A True Star" (a single album from 1973) and "Todd" (another double from 1974). 

So here's the next batch of three for September 2014 - "Initiation" and "Hermit Of Mink Hollow " from 1975 and 1978 (see reviews) - and this - the forgotten "Runt" album - his 1970 solo debut LP for Ampex Records in the States - now extended into a double-CD edition with a bonus. Here are the details...

UK released 9 September 2014 (23 September in the USA) - "Runt: Deluxe Edition" by TODD RUNDGREN on Edsel EDSK 7075 (Barcode 740155707538) is a 2CD reissue of their October 2011 double that combined "Runt" (both versions) with the album that followed it - "The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren". For this 2014 issue you get "Runt" only in its original 10-track album form on Disc 1 - with a 12-track 'Alternate Runt' on Disc 2 that also boasts a further bonus track. Here are the finite details for both versions:

Disc 1 "Runt" - US-only LP released May 1970 on Ampex A 10105 (40:50 minutes):
1. Broke Down And Busted (4:32 minutes)
2. Believe In Me (2:01 minutes)
3. We Gotta Get You A Woman (3:06 minutes)
4. Who's That Man? (2:59 minutes)
5. Once Burned (2:06 minutes)
6. Devil's Bite (3:52 minutes)
7. I'm In The Clique (4:55 minutes)
8. There Are No Words (2:09 minutes)
9. Baby, Let's Swing / The Last Thing You Said / Don't Tie My Hands (5:25 minutes)
10. Birthday Carol (9:12 minutes)

Disc 2 "The Alternate Runt" - November 1970 Version (51:47 minutes):
1. Broke Down And Busted (Intro: There Are No Words) (4:56 minutes)
2. Believe In Me (Alternate Mix) (1:58 minutes)
3. We Gotta Get You A Woman (Alternate Mix) (3:04 minutes)
4. Who's That Man? (Same as on the original version)
5. Once Burned (Same as on the original version)
6. Hope I'm Around (Early Version - different to the one that's on "The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren" album
7. Devil's Bite (Alternate Mix with extended guitar solo)
8. I'm In The Clique (Same as on the original version)
9. There Are No Words (Same as on the original version)
10. Baby Let's swing (Full Length Song)
11. Say No More (Exclusive to this version)
12. Birthday Carol (With some alterations)

13.Broke Down And Busted (Live At Carnegie Hall, June 8, 1972) - a BONUS TRACK. Originally released on the "Something/Anything" 2CD set in 1998

The attached 12-page booklet within has liner notes by Paul Myers from his superb tome "A Wizard, A True Star - Todd Rundgren In The Studio" and is an excellent read. There are black and white photos of a young and shorthaired Rundgren in the studio as well the hand-written album credits. The lovely Bob Zoell cartoon artwork on the rear of the original Ampex Records album is reproduced on the back of the hardback book gatefold. There is no new remaster that I can hear - this is the Edsel February 2012 version - that in itself was a Peter Rynston UK master using the 1993 American Rhino remasters. Don't get me wrong - the sound is superb. The only upgrade here is the cool-looking book packaging - which is a rather lovely thing to behold...

As a debut after NAZZ - "Runt" showed great promise and tracks like the 3-part "Baby Let's Swing" song (about Laura Nyro) were amazingly complicated and accomplished at one and the same time - and yet the whole album to me always lacked some kind of cohesion. I say this because when you hear the `Alternate' version - it hangs together better. Right from the get go there's the beautiful and ethereal vocals of "There Are No Words" as an opening for about 30 seconds - then it goes into the "Broke Down And Busted" we all know and love. The released album version of the delicate and rather lovely "Believe In Me" is better than the remix which gets too busy with instrument flourishes that distract. I love the inclusion of "Hope I'm Around" - it gives the whole album a more mellow feel and somehow makes "Runt" more about feelings rather than studio trickery. And the extended "Devil's Bite" rocks more. The "Laura" song "Baby, Let's Swing" stretches out and is better for it and the brass-meets-rock of "Birthday Carol" amazes me even to this day. With its hooky melody - "We Gotta Get You A Woman" was an obvious single (lyrics from it title this review) and the gorgeous 2-minute spacey vocal piece that is "There Are No Words" is properly amazing.

So there you have it - remastered and remixed - this is a very cool little reissue really - and a timely reminder of his genius...

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