Todd Rundgren

With a Little Help from My Friends

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Most tribute albums are thought to be completely new recordings by other artists, but there are indeed some different approaches/techniques that can be used. Case in point -- utilizing preexisting tracks from the original performer, and merging them with newly recorded tracks by other artists. Todd Rundgren was the recipient of such a tribute on 2002's Todd Rundgren & His Friends, which has been reissued several times subsequently under different titles, including 2003's With a Little Help from My Friends. Produced by Billy Sherwood and Bob Kulick, the majority of the "tributizers" are from the hard rock world -- including current/former members of Kiss, Billy Idol, Mr. Big, Def Leppard, and King Crimson, among others. Included is a version of Rundgren's biggest hit, "Hello It's Me," with Edgar Winter blowing some accompanying saxophone, as well as noted session guitarist (and former member of Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers) Jeff "Skunk" Baxter jamming on "Something to Fall Back On." But there are also several instances when the newly recorded bits take away from the original, as evidenced by Gary Hoey's constant six-string fills on "Love Is the Answer." Another complaint is that not a lot of Rundgren's best-known material is covered, as evidenced by such obscure selections as "Drive," "Emperor of the Highway," etc. You get the feeling that most of these headbanging contributors would have been better suited for Rundgren's harder rocking and more guitar-based selections ("Black Maria," "Heavy Metal Kids," "Love in Action," etc.). Guess there's always a chance of a "Pt. 2." [Note: other titles that are With a Little Help from My Friends with different packaging include Hello It's Me and My Friends, Re-Mixes, and Todd Rundgren and Friends: Great Classics.]

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