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Book Review: A Wizard, A True Star: Todd Rundgren in the Studio

A Wizard, A True Star: Todd Rundgren in the Studio
By Paul Myers
[Jawbone Press (2010), 320 Pages]

A wunderkind behind the mixing board and a guiding light as a record producer and arranger, Todd Rundgren‘s trajectory as one of the most sought-after studio specialists in the rock and roll business is carefully detailed and analyzed by Paul Myers in this illuminating anecdotal history of Rundgren’s recording world. His client list over the years is impressive, and includes such heavy hitters as The New York Dolls, Grand Funk, Hall & Oates, Cheap Trick, XTC, Meat Loaf, The Tubes, The Psychedelic Furs, Badfinger, The Patti Smith Group, The Butterfield Blues Band, The Band, and Sparks. Rundgren’s claim to fame to aspiring rockers is his peppy motto: “If you know what you want, I’ll get it for you. If you don’t know what you want, I’ll do it for you.”

Rundgren, who earned his studio chops behind the board in his first real successful band, Nazz, while still in his late teens, was a natural musician, mastering the guitar, keyboards, and drums, and wrapping his songs around a clever “pop” sensibility. The best chapters, for sure, are devoted to specific albums which Rundgren produced, including Grand Funk’s “We’re an American Band” to Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” to XTC’s “Skylarking.” Myers heads right for the jugular, so you’ll get all of the backroom squabbling, heated tantrums, and music shenanigans that accompany many albums from concept to final product.

—TJ McGrath (Woodbridge, CT)

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