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Todd Rundgren

The Individualist, A True Star Live (double CD/DVD Set)

Review by Gary Hill

To some degree, you know what you are getting when you see the name "Todd Rundgren." The man's music is almost a flavor all its own. He seamlessly moves between genres, but yet it all bears unmistakable trademarks that tell you it's Rundgren. This new double CD with bonus DVD set is a live testament to his music. I should mention that, while not everything Rundgren does is prog, the very artsy nature of it qualifies him, as far as I'm concerned, so that's where the reviews go for Rundgren.

This performance is strong and features a nice cross-section of Rundgren music. His band includes Utopia bassist Kasim Sulton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes, part of the New Cars band, which featured Rundgren. In addition to the concert video, the DVD includes Q&As that Rundgren did on this 2019 tour. Those videos are from cell phone footage, but for my money, they make up the coolest bonus feature here. It's an interesting touch.

I should add that, since video and CD reviews are very different at MSJ, it's always a bit of a question where hybrid products like this belong. Since the CDs come first here, and seem to be the primary part of the package, I've done this as a CD review. Were the video treated more as the main item here, this would have gone under the video heading, as the Big Big Train live album review in this issue did.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2023  Volume 2. More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
Disc 1:
How About A Little Fanfare / I Think You Know

A weird looped voice gives way to some frantic keyboard sounds. That crescendos and a full band arrangement emerges from there. This sounds a lot like David Bowie to me.

Open My Eyes
There is a real Kinks meets power-pop vibe to this cut. It's fast-paced and has some real meat in the vocal department.
Hello It's Me
I've always loved this song. This version really captures all the magic. I love the saxophone work on it.
We Gotta Get You A Woman
Another Rundgren classic gets a faithful performance here. I really like this track a lot, too, and this is another strong rendition.
I Saw The Light
The hits keep coming. This is another winner, both in general and in this performance.
It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference
This melodic rocker has some jazz elements at play. It's another strong cut.
Black Maria
This rocker has some scorching guitar work. There is a real blues rock angle to it. The instrumental movement later is purely on fire.
An Elpee's Worth Of Tunes
A bouncy tune, this has a real art music vibe. It has a definite musical theater thing at play, too.
Sometimes I Don't Know What To Feel
I dig the cool rocking sounds of this. The vocal arrangement is complex and effective. The horn brings something special to the proceedings.
Too Far Gone
This is pretty much a trademark Rundgren tune. It gets a competent live rendering.
A Dream Goes On Forever
Another that feels like classic Rundgren fare, I really like this bouncy number.
The Death Of Rock And Roll
This hard rocker is positively on fire. I love the guitar sounds and riffing on the tune.
Can We Still Be Friends

This is another favorite for me. The cut has a great classic Rundgren sound. This performance definitely does it justice.

Real Man
Quirky, creative and entertaining, this is more classic Rundgren. It's a solid live performance.
Love Of The Common Man
This is another classic delivered with style.
A slower, but no less trademark, tune, this also is done justice by the live treatment. The keyboard elements are more in line with a proggy vibe.
Couldn't I Just Tell You
Another energized rocker, this thing works so well.
Fair Warning
This number wanders a lot of territory, telling quite a story as it does.
Disc 2:
The Individualist

Weird keyboard sounds get this track going. The cut builds out from there with a lot of style. Flute dances across the arrangement. This song is so artsy and trippy. There are raps in it. It makes its way into pure jazz territory. There are space rock parts. This is not the catchiest thing here, but is among the most creative and proggy of the album.

Black and White
Another classic, this is heavy, proggy and so cool. This live performance definitely does it justice.
Honest Work
This is an acapella song. It's mostly Rundgren's voice, but there are other voices at times.
Lost Horizon
I dig the jazzy groove on this song a lot. It's all class. The vocal arrangement on this is rich, and the whole performance works well.
Bag Lady
Keyboards and vocals are the point of this as it gets going. While the arrangement fills out at times, it sticks to that motif for most of the song's run.
Buffalo Grass
An energetic and proggy rocker, this thing works so well. It is packed full of layers of sound, and it really grooves so well. There is some scorching hot guitar soloing later in this tune.
Tiny Demons
Pretty much a trademark Rundgren sounding piece, this works well.
The Want of a Nail
I like the soulful, almost jazzy groove to this one quite a bit.
Fade Away
This somewhat mellower piece seems to have a grounding effect. It makes it a great choice for closer.

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