The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect

Todd Rundgren

Bearsville Records, 1983

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/22/1997

Todd Rundgren - genius or madman?

According to some members of the Bob Pierce Memorial Fan Club(they'd take a bullet for me... I hope, I hope, I hope), the answer to this question depends on which album of his you're listening to. (An aunt of mine has classified Rundgren's latest work as "crap". I'll take that as a vote for madman.)

But on 1982's The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect, Rundgren leans more towards genius, creating an album that, despite sounding a little dated, has some of Rundgren's best work.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The album is a one-man show featuring Rundgren - it appears he plays all the instruments and provides all the voices on this one. The one negative is that Rundgren leans a little too heavy on the synthesizer - it would have been nice to hear some electric guitar in the mix.... that is, if it's even on the album at all.

Rundgren proves not only is he a capable musician and vocalist, but he reaffirms his power as a songwriter. The now-overplayed hit "Bang The Drum All Day" is a great piece of work that rightfully put him back into the public spotlight. But this isn't the only piece of quality work.

The opening track "Hideaway" shows the album holds quite a bit of promise - promise which is delivered one track later on the song "Influenza." Tracks which also stand out include ""Drive," There Goes Your Baybay" and the Ronnie Lane/Steve Marriott composition "Tin Soldier."

But perhaps the hidden gem on The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect is a little operetta named "Emperor Of The Highway" - a song which must be listened to with headphones to hear the two parts that Rundgren sings. "Emperor" is quite funny for being such a short number - once you get past the piano bombastics, the true nature of the song comes out to tickle the listener's funny bone.

In fact, there is only one wasted track on the whole album - the closer "Chant." Rundgren sounds a little like he's finally run out of gas by this point, and is anxious to close the album. The one bad track doesn't spoil the rest, though, and Rundgren comes through it as clean as ever.

Rhino Records re-released the entire Todd Rundgren collection a few years ago, and I believe they still hold the rights for this one. But if you're lucky to find The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect in any format, grab it immediately and allow yourself to be sucked in.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Bearsville Records, and is used for informational purposes only.