I totally get a younger person’s perspective about the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. If you had been raised after Lee Abram’s narrow radio programming lists, the destruction of the fairness doctrine in broadcasting by the Reagan Administration, the legislation of the Clinton era that threw away the limitations placed upon conglomerates to limit their influence in a market, the decline of video music outlets and the rise of classic rock radio due to Boomers being afraid of their “greatest music ever” being regarded as “oldies,” you would have a narrow definition of rock and roll. Hell, I should too. But, for some reason, I held onto the radio format of my youth and extrapolated it to my record collection and musical tastes. And, fortunately, those tastes were passed down to my boys, who love everything from Johnny Cash to Tool to Travis Scott. I admire them that they believe there are really only two types of music: good and bad.
Since the 2020 Nominee list for the RRHOF has been announced, I have read the great articles of the many whom I believe to be more in tune with the politics surrounding the Hall. Some are wondering why Whitney Houston, The Notorious B.I.G. and Rufus featuring Chaka Khan are all being nominated, while others are decrying those artists whose marginal sales should be disqualifying, such as MC5, Todd Rundgren, Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk. Sorry, but rock has always be more than the least common denominator; otherwise, why haven’t the Bay City Rollers, Mike + the Mechanics and The Association been nominated? There is room for the innovators in the Hall, especially a Hall for rock and roll. Sure, baseball doesn’t recognize the inventor of the curveball or split finger fastball, but music is different in that it is more subjective and reliant upon historians to help shape its legacy. That’s why diverse artists such as Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Robert Johnson, Bob Willis, Jimi Hendrix, Ramones, ABBA and Madonna are all members. Sure, metal and hard rock have been short-changed, but so have 70s soul, art rock, funk, new wave, hip hop, bubblegum and alternative musics.
I feel as though at least ten artists should be inducted each year until this traffic jam of deserving artists have been thinned a bit. So, one artist of whom I have written often, should be inducted this year and that person is Todd Rundgren. Rundgren has been THE Renaissance man of rock music. Not only has he been a recording artist, songwriter, member of three groups (Utopia, Nazz and The New Cars), producer and engineer, Rundgren led us into the video age and the computer age, being one of the first major artists to embrace new technology at seemingly every turn. If he will not be inducted as a performer, as many are predicting, at least induct him for Musical Excellence. Shoot, last year he finished third in the fan balloting, becoming only the third Top 5 finisher not to be inducted. Perhaps, no one artist on this short list has the resume that Todd has.
So, Todd Rundgren becomes my fourth 2020 inductee of the RRHOF. If you want to see my choices of his best songs, take a look at a couple of my earlier blog entries. Today, I want to give you what I feel are Rundgren’s Ten Best Albums, solo or with Utopia, AND his 15 Best Album Productions. To summarize, I have endorsed Whitney Houston, Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk and, now, Todd Rundgren.
Rundgren’s 10 Best Albums
10. Liars (2004)
9. The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect (1982)
8. Deface the Music – Utopia (1981)
7. Swing to the Right – Utopia (1982)
6. A Wizard, a True Star (1973)
5. Adventures in Utopia – Utopia (1979)
4. Todd (1974)
3. Utopia – Utopia (1982)
2. Hermit of Mink Hollow (1978)
1. Something/Anything? (1972)
Todd Rundgren’s 15 Best Productions by Other Artists
15. TRB2 – Tom Robinson Band (1979)
14. Is Nothing Sacred? – The Lords of the New Church (1983)
13. Remote Control – The Tubes (1979)
12. Shinin’ On – Grand Funk Railroad (1974)
11. War Babies – Daryl Hall & John Oates (1974)
10. Wasp – Shaun Cassiday (1980)
9. The New America – Bad Religion (2000)
8. Love Junk – The Pursuit of Happiness (1988)
7. Wave – Patti Smith Group (1979)
6. Straight Up – Badfinger (1971)
5. We’re an American Band – Grand Funk Railroad (1973)
4. New York Dolls – New York Dolls (1973)
3. Forever Now – The Psychedelic Furs (1982)
2. Bat Out of Hell – Meat Loaf (1977)
1. Skylarking – XTC (1986)