Todd Rundgren

Todd Rundgren & His Friends

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Rock & roll maverick Todd Rundgren has had one of the most interesting careers in the business, finding himself respected as a pop songwriter, a unique producer, and an experimental composer. Only the first element is really reflected on Todd Rundgren & His Friends, an interesting blend of tribute album and greatest hits. Producers Bob Kulick and Billy Sherwood take the original vocal tracks from many of his greatest hits and replace the instrumental tracks with their own playing. On top of that, each track features a well-known guitarist adding their own touches to the compositions. This leads to some bizarre new versions of some classic (and not so classic) songs, each with an accentuated guitar track to emphasize the guest players. Although the intention was to pay tribute to Rundgren's work, it essentially takes songs that were rooted in '70s power pop and soft rock and reworks them into '80s-esque rock numbers. This is mainly due to the production, which adds more keyboards and takes many of the organic elements away from the original songs. It doesn't really diminish or improve the originals, but instead re-creates them as if they were written in the glossy mainstream pop environment of the mid-'80s. As well-intentioned as this was meant to be, it really doesn't add much to his catalog and essentially just gives session players like Steve Lukather and Kulick's brother, Bruce, a showcase for their talents. But they have already proven their worth on their own recordings, making this a non-essential item for all but dedicated Rundgren collectors.

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