Sunday, September 15, 2013

BATTLE OF THE BANDS (BOTB): HELLO IT'S ME

A few bloggers I follow are doing a semi-monthly "Battle Of The Bands" post, and today I thought I'd shamelessly jump on their bandwagon without being invited.



Those who follow this blog know that I sometimes listen to an artist named Todd Rundgren.  Most people either say “Todd who?” or know of his Billboard #5 hit “Hello It’s Me.”



The song was originally recorded by The Nazz, the band that brought Rundgren national attention (if not fame). I’d have said his first band, but his first band, Woody’s Truck Stop, did release a record, so the Nazz would be his second band.

Rundgren later recorded "his" version of the song for 1972's Something/Anything? lp, and that version got all the airplay and became his signature hit.

He also recorded a bossa-nova version of the tune on 1997's With A Twist.

The song also has made some appearances in our pop culture:

(   (1)    In the ending to the pilot of the Fox sitcom That '70s Show, Eric and the gang joyfully sing this in the car while on their way to a Todd Rundgren concert.



(  (2)    Paul Giamatti's character in the 2000 film Duets performs this song in a karaoke bar

(  (3)    The single was used in a 2009 Tums television advertisement



The song has also been covered by other artists quite a few times:

(  (1)    The Isley Brothers for their 1974 album Live It Up


(  (2)    Groove Theory for their 1995 self-titled album

(  (3)    Mary J. Blige for the Japanese and iTunes editions of her 2007 album Growing Pains

(  (4)    Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs on their album Under the Covers, Vol. 2



(  (5)    Lani Hall (Herb Alpert's wife) on her album titled Hello It's Me in 1975

(  (6)    Gerald Levert recorded a cover with Lil' Mo on the soundtrack for the movie The Mod Squad

(  (7)    John Legend (who thought the song was written by the Isley Brothers) on a Gap-sponsored disc called Favorite Songs

(  (8)    The Grip Weeds on the album Strange Change Machine in 2010.



Anyway, since it seems like they’ll let anyone play Battle Of The Bands, I thought I’d throw out an entry, and me being me, don’tcha know it’s going to be a Todd Rundgren song?


And I am going to cheat a little-and put THREE versions of the song out there!

First, the original version by The Nazz




Next, the Todd Rundgren solo version



And finally, the version by The Isley Brothers


I lied....here's the Matthew Sweet and Susannah Hoffs version-so there are FOUR versions of the song to choose from!



Now, I am sure I have broken the rules that the BOTB founders put out there, but since this is an unofficial post, I can get away with it.

The REAL Battle Of The Bands sites are:






Robin (Your Daily Dose) 


They post on the first and fifteenth of the month and have a cool contest going on where you can win free CD's and a dream date with your choice of Brad Pitt or Kate Upton.

OK, I may have made the last part up. But go check out their blogs and vote. 

Ya can't win if ya don't play!

19 comments:

  1. I won't compare the Todd sol to the others. That's just unfair.

    I didn't think I'd like the Nazz version at the start, but loved it by the finish. That was awesome, easily the best of the rest. The Isleys didn't really grab me... and got kinda annoying to me by about halfway.

    The Sweet/Hoffs version was decent enough. I woulda liked it better had there been more Hoffs and less Sweet.

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    1. Hard to go against the "hit" version on this once, CW.

      Delete
  2. Since this week is my book release, I didn't post an entry. Hopefully will be back on track in two weeks.
    I'd have to go with the second one. His vocals are much clearer and more distinct. Fourth one was good as well.

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    Replies
    1. Alex-

      I think #2 is the odds-on favorite...

      Delete
  3. First of all, I have ALWAYS loved that song - it's one that takes me back to a far better and more innocent time in life. And I believe it wasn't until I met you, LC, that I learned who wrote and performed it. It's just one I heard on the radio often and sort of fell into while it played.

    I read CW Martin's comment before I played the videos. And about halfway through the Nazz version I was thinking: It makes total sense that Brother Martin loved this because, like me, he's a huge Beach Boys fan, and the Nazz version is VERY Beach Boys-like.

    No sooner did I think that when Nappy happened to walk through the room and he asked as he passed by me: "Who's that? The Beach Boys?"

    I tell you the truth, I'll vote for the Rugrat solo version - it's slightly more uptempo and it's the one I've been hearing for decades. BUT... if the Nazz version was the one I was most familiar with, I would likely be voting for it instead. In this case, I think the solo take wins out mostly on the strength of familiarity. Both versions are great though.

    The Isley Brothers give it "The Lou Rawls Treatment" and just jazz it up too much with superficial, hokey meaninglessness. (That intro with all the "Hellos" was really dumb.) Leave Lou Rawls to Lou Rawls.

    The last version was nice enough, but it was so similar to the Rugrat solo version in terms of tempo and vocal approach that I don't see why they even bothered to record it.

    Lastly, I wanna tell you you're a punk, Punk! In my BOTB #5 installment I was planning to be the first BOTB blogger to stretch out and post 3 versions of the same song. I was intending to surprise everyone by being "the first to go to three".

    I'm still gonna do it, because the 3 versions of the song I have in mind are so DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT. But after that, I will go back to two and stay there.

    "Hello, It's Me", LC,
    Stealing thunder from thee.


    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Punk? Dude! Well you'll still be the first official BOTB blogger to post 3!

      I don't get Beach Boys out of the Nazz version, but am certainly not as familiar with them as you-when I hear the words Beach Boys I think of their surf songs.

      I may do one or two more rogue BOTB entries with another Todd songs (big surprise there) .

      Delete
    2. "Punk" has become a very popular, oft used word lately in my house.

      *Ahem!* You don't hear a Beach Boys influence in the vocal harmonizing of the Nazz version?

      The Beach Boys sang about many things, but of course their early Sun, Surf, Sand & Car songs were the principal topics in the beginning of their career.

      But I'm not talking about the subject of the song. I'm talking about the structure of the vocals and the layering of the harmonies. That arrangement has definitely borrowed a page out of the Beach Boys handbook.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
    3. I guess it's so slow and the BB songs that come to mind for me are so much more uptempo...I was really focusing on the melody when I was thinking about your comment.

      Plus I've been listening to Todd so long, it sounds like the normal RUNDGREN vocal layering to me! Hah!

      But I am sure he was influenced by what he was hearing on the radio.

      I do not know if Todd has ever acknowledged Wilson as an influence, but now that you've steered me to the vocals and not the tune itself, it's actually a little more obvious here than his later stuff.

      Delete
  4. Four choices! I liked the Isley Brothers the least (Ranking #4). After that it got harder. I think The Nazz version would be #3. I liked the last version more than I expected, so it gets the #2 spot. And Todd doing the song solo is #1. His voice is the purest and most of the song is piano and drums (primarily) and I just love that sound. In the end, the piano is phased out in favor of brass (trumpet?), but it is still pleasing to the ear.

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    Replies
    1. While I give the Isley Brothers credit for trying something different, it does not work so well.

      Delete
  5. OK,now I am intimidated, surrounded by all this musical background and knowledge. Me, mostly I just know what I like and what makes me crazy (well, OK crazier).

    Here I gotta stick with Todd on solo. It's the version I'm the most used to and it rings most true tome.

    Hey I like your 'dream date' idea there at the end (although I would probably pick someone else). You get the rest of 'em to go with it and I'm in.

    Be sure to leave a comment at the other sites to let everyone know you've posted your own BOTB and give them a change to see your selections.

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    Replies
    1. I think the most important piece of musical knowledge is knowing what you like!

      We may have a problem delivering on the dream date, I'm afraid....

      Delete
  6. This is not my favorite Rundgren song so this was kind of overdose for me. It's not a bad song, just not his best in my book.

    Todd wins no contest here. Everyone else dragged things down too much, although the last one was pretty close to Todd's. I'll hand this contest to Todd's solo version.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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    Replies
    1. "not a bad song"

      Lee, you may want to have someone else start your car tomorrow. I'm just sayin'

      I kid, of course.

      I love the song, and was in love with the Nazz version back in my high school days (when I paid a small fortune for the three out-of-print Nazz titles and the two Runt albums).

      I've heard him do it with so many different arrangements including a bossa nova and a swing version, that my favorite is now the classic '72 version.

      Delete
  7. "Hello, it's Me," was one of the first songs I ever went hunting for on iTunes. I love, love, love that song. I'm going to pretend I never heard those other versions... Yikes! The original version was interesting, however.

    -Jimmy

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    1. Jimmy-

      I did not the think Sweet/Hoffs version was bad (kind of a note for note cover) but the Isleys, while an interesting take, did not do it for me either.

      LC

      Delete
  8. Alright, I've gotta give this one to Todd. That's not sucking up or pandering to this blog. His version is just genuinely the best. The others just sound too mellow. Too soft. Hell, that Isley Brothers version sounds like something I'd expect to hear in a dentist's office.

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    1. Bryan-An interesting take might be to hear a Todd version with the same arrangement as the 1972 version but with the layered vocals of the Nazz original.

      On the one hand, I always like when someone does their own spin on a song....on the other, some songs should not be covered (remember that dance version of Free Bird? I still need therapy from that one!)

      Larry

      Delete
  9. I like the Isley brothers on some songs, but this ain't one of 'em. I was already annoyed with that version about thirty seconds into the song. The fourth version was okay, and the fourth was better, but my vote has to go to Todd.

    ReplyDelete