Friday, August 30, 2013

RUNDGREN WORK ETHIC

Here is another article (from June 2012) about baseball player Rex Rundgren whose father is often mentioned in my posts...

The original article can be found HERE.


The popular adage that “Every athlete wants to be a rock star and every rock star wants to be an athlete” never applied in the Rundgren household.

While both father and son are responsible for their fair share of hits, Todd Rundgren, a musician and songwriter for five decades, and the younger Rex, a 12th-year professional baseball player, seldom dabbled in each other’s arts until recently. Still, with Father’s Day set for Sunday, Rex knows who to thank for instilling an important principle in him at an early age.



“People think musicians and baseball players just play music and sports, but my dad works constantly,” said Rex, who started the season at shortstop for the Somerset Patriots. “All day, every day, he is sitting at home playing his guitar. I saw how hard he works, and I knew that’s what it takes to succeed.”

With his father at TD Bank Ballpark on May 25, Rundgren, who was inactive Friday as the Patriots faced the York Revolution, singled, scored and stole a base. Even when he is not in the stands, Todd, who left town to perform with Ringo Starr in Cleveland, keeps close watch on the Patriots.

“It’s part of my daily schedule when he is playing baseball to be online and listen to the games whenever I’m not working,” Todd said. “Sometimes I’m in my dressing room following the game all the way up until the moment I have to go on stage, and then the moment I get off stage I check the status of the game. In another age, I would’ve not been able to do that. It’s kind of fortunate.”

At least, fortunate in most regards.

“He was never a big baseball fan until I started playing pro ball, but since then he has taken the time to really understand the game, which shows he cares about me,” Rex said before breaking into a wide smile. “But sometimes he takes it too far and gives me (baseball) advice.”

Despite his late-developing interest in sports, Todd has held a unique connection to its arenas for years. Rundgren’s 1983 song “Bang the Drum All Day” – which he says initially was not considered a hit – is played at home games when the Green Bay Packers score a touchdown and the Los Angeles Dodgers score a run. It is regularly played during Patriots’ games to energize the crowd.

“The thing I like about it is that if you ask most people in the stands who wrote that song they won’t have any idea,” Todd said. “And that’s fine with me. It means that it is embedded in the culture in a way a song like ‘Happy Birthday’ is – no one remembers where they learned it, nobody knows who wrote it or anything else. It means that I’ve succeeded in becoming a part of my culture.”

He also has succeeded in bringing music to Rex, whose younger brother Randy was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2004 and who actress Liv Tyler considers to be her brother. Despite there being no blood relation the two, they grew up in the same house as children.



“When I was younger, I was one of those rebels, and now I’m smacking myself for it,” said Rex, who tours with his father in the offseason and is involved in merchandise sales. “I appreciate music a lot more now that I’m older and I understand what it really means to people. I have a newfound passion for it. Maybe it’s something I’d like to get into behind the scenes when I’m done with baseball.”



When will that time come? Perhaps not for a while as, as Rex, who reached Triple-A for two major-league organizations, is coming off the best offensive season of his career and continues to draw high praise for his defense.

Turns out staying power is a Rundgren family trait.

“I wanted to be a guitar player even when I was young so badly that I was willing to go through the painful finger period that usually what makes or breaks a guitar player,” said Todd, whose musical gift became apparent around the same time that he failed at Little League. “While Rex is fascinated with music and likes watching me perform … by the time he was 15, it became apparent his talents lie elsewhere.”


Todd Rundgren is playing two shows in the Akron area this Labor Day weekend, one with the Akron Symphony Orchestra (at Akron Civic Theater) and a "normal" band show at the Kent Stage.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

GROWING UP RUNDGREN

Faithful (album title pun intended) readers have heard me talk about Todd Rundgren a lot. But you may not know that one of Todd's sons, Rex, has had a long career in baseball's minor leagues.

Here's an article from 2008 from  mlb.com.

Rex Rundgren has traveled with the rock 'n' roll lifestyle and on the Minor League Baseball circuit. He says there's one major difference between the two.


"I used to tour the country on buses that had really nice beds and TVs," he says with a smile. "That's not the case anymore."

Rundgren, 27, is putting in his time and those tough road miles these days as a slick-fielding shortstop for the Las Vegas 51s, the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

More famously, he's the oldest son of Todd Rundgren, the musical pioneer who has been confounding and thrilling music critics and fans for almost 40 years with a mix of pop-rock mastery, production wizardry and technological innovation.



Rex could have tried a career in music, but when Todd moved the family -- which included Rex's baseball-playing younger brother, Randy -- to Oahu, Hawaii, the weather was just too good for sitting around and plucking guitar strings.

At least that's what Rex says.

"It was always sunny outside, and there was nothing else to do where I lived," Rex says, and when asked why he didn't take a surfboard and hop in the warm Pacific, he smiles and says, "Don't like sharks."

So Rex stayed on the baseball field. And better yet, he never got any argument about it from his dad.



"He told me if it's something I wanted to do, I would have done it myself," Rex says. "And now that I'm older and I have more respect for music, I ask him, 'Why didn't you [teach me how to play]?' Because I wish he did."

Rex says he's cultivated a working knowledge of his father's musical career, which is tough to do.

Todd Rungren has released more than 40 albums of solo work and band projects with Nazz, Utopia and others, and Rex has several of his dad's albums on his iPod and lists 1972's Something/Anything? as his favorite, citing "Black Maria," the ubiquitious radio staple "Hello, It's Me" and 1976's "Black and White" (from Faithful)as his preferred tracks.



"I haven't heard all his music," Rex admits. "I'm still learning about a lot of it. And when I was younger I didn't really respect it. I didn't know what it was all about. I was never into music. I was more just wanted to be outside and run around.

"But now that I'm older, I see why everybody says what they say about him and how he invents different types of music all the time and he's always changing and always making new sounds. That's why he's stuck around for so long. He doesn't do the same thing and stick to the same formula. Like right now, he has an arena rock album. He's always changing, and I know that's hard, and I just respect everything he's done."



Rex Rundgren hasn't given up on making the Major Leagues, and he's one step away in Triple-A, but he says he finally considers himself ready to learn how to play music.

"I never really tried anything before," he says. "I tried drums for a little while when I was younger but just didn't have the patience for it. Now that I'm older, I'd like to start, but my dad just tells me that if I want to do it I can do it. He learned guitar totally on his own. He just went into his room and learned it himself."

The two talk about music and maybe even a little baseball quite a bit. Rex says they call each other on the phone almost every day, and Todd will sometimes gear his own tour schedule to cities where he knows Rex's team will be playing.

Rex also remembers tagging along on his dad's tours, which took him to exotic places and allowed him to meet some musical legends.

"He played in Ringo Starr's All-Star band, so I've met some of the Beatles," Rex says (his dad's famously humorous 1973 album A Wizard, A True Star is often compared to late Beatles recordings). "He'd take me to shows and we'd meet guys, but I was so young I really don't remember. I guess I've also met the Rolling Stones, the Eagles, the Cars ..."



Nowadays, when Todd shows up to Rex's games, he can be seen wearing a 51s cap and, as Rex says, flaunting "decent" baseball knowledge.

"He knows the game as much as you'd probably expect him to," Rex says. "He's trying to be a fan."

And when Rex comes to the plate in the parks of the Pacific Coast League, he's a Todd Rundgren fan all over again.

He's often greeted by a walk-up-tailored sample of "Hello, It's Me," or his father's most recognizable novelty tune, "Bang on the Drum All Day." And that song in particular, Rex says, is pretty much the only one his teammates recognize.

"Some guys I'll let listen to a couple songs on my iPod and they enjoy it, but nobody really knows what it is," Rex says with a laugh.


"Their parents do, though."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

RS LIST OF DEBUT ALBUMS...THE BLOGGERS STRIKE BACK

Now that we’ve seen the entire Rolling Stone list, I thought it might be interesting to see the results of the blogfest we did a few years ago ( check out the post HERE.)

Here is the musical brain trust I am lining up against the editors of Rolling Stone…be afraid, Rolling Stone….be VERY afraid!

Yours truly
Stephen T. McCarthy
Arlee Bird
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Nicole Duclerior
PK Hrezo
Halloween Overkill
Kelly Polark
Love In The Truth
Eeleen Lee
Sober Chronic Fabulous
El-vox
Yellow Matter Custard
Dance On Fire

Welcome To My World Of Poetry also participated, but it appears that her post was taken down (the link is no longer active), so her list is not represented in the results below.

Here are the top twenty debut albums ranked simply by the number of lists they appeared on.

GNR-Appetite For Destruction

Pearl Jam-Ten

Boston-ST

King Crimson-In The Court Of The Crimson King

Nils Lofgren-ST

Rickie Lee Jones-ST

Christopher Cross-ST

Alanis Morrisette-Jagged Little Pill

The Doors-ST

Heart-Dreamboat Annie

Pat Benatar-In The Heat Of The Night

Kate Bush-The Kick Inside

Rage Against The Machine-ST

The Killers-Hot Fuss

Steve Forbert-Alive On Arrival

The Police-Outlandos d’Amour

Elvis Costello-My Aim Is True

Tori Amos-Little Earthquakes

Todd Snider-Songs For The Daily Planet

Marillion-Script For A Jester’s Tear


Now, I am a CPA, so you know I had to play around with the numbers.

I weighted the titles based on how high they were ranked on each participant's list. There was a little movement as a result of this, and I would think this is probably a better representation (even though it pains me that Nils Lofrgren and Marillion fall off of this list)...

Here are the top twenty adjusted to account for individual rankings: 

GNR Appetite For Destruction


Boston-ST


Pearl Jam Ten


Kate Bush The Kick Inside


The Killers-Hot Fuss


King Crimson In The Court Of The Crimson King


Rickie Lee Jones-ST


Tori Amos-Little Earthquakes


Todd Snider Songs For The Daily Planet


Alanis Morrisette-Jagged Little Pill


David Crosby-If I Could Only Remember My Name


Steely Dan Can't Buy A Thrill


Pink Floyd-Piper At The Gates Of Dawn


Beastie Boys-License To Ill


Van Halen-ST


Vixen-ST


Pantera-Cowboys From Hell


Maroon 5-Songs About Jane


Van Morrison Astral Weeks


Steve Forbert Alive On Arrival



My comments on the Rolling Stone list were alleging that the newer music was overrepresented, so I decided to test that theory.

The distribution by decade was as follows, with 61% of the debut albums coming from the 1980’s or later. 

This would have been even more lopsided, but many acts commonly attributed to the 80’s (The Police, B-52’s, The Cars, Joy Division, The Clash) managed to sneak in debut albums before the Seventies closed out.

1950
2
1960
12
1970
25
1980
22
1990
18
2000
19
2010
2

I think, especially considering the variety and volume of new music in the late sixties through the seventies, that my comments have merit-that I suspect Rolling Stone skewed their list to more recent music to pacify their readers.

Or maybe I’m just disgruntled because Todd Rundgren isn’t on their list.

Monday, August 26, 2013

ROLLING STONE 100 BEST DEBUT ALBUMS LIST (PART FOUR OF FOUR)

Rolling Stone has compiled their list of the 100 greatest debut albums of all time HERE, and I thought I would be interesting to contrast their list with the results of the blogfest.

Rolling Stone "discounted" the debut if the artist went on to greater success, and gave extra recognition to debuts where the success was never repeated. They skipped debuts from artists who had left well-known bands.

This explains why Greetings From Asbury Park did not make the top 25, but does not explain why Boston is not in the top ten.

As is the case with most Rolling Stone lists, it suffers from a bit of pandering and political correctness.  So while their guidelines were not a bad idea, some of their choices (and the running order) are, in my opinion, missteps.

Here are the final 25 titles in their top 100 debuts...

76. Devo “Are We Not Men? We Are Devo!”

77. Drake “Thank Me Later”


78. The Stone Roses (S/T)

79. Elvis Presley (S/T)

80. The Byrds “Mr. Tambourine Man”

81. Gang Of Four “Entertainment”

82. The Congos “Heart Of The Congos”

83. Erik B. And Rahim “Paid In Full”

84. Whitney Houston

85. Rage Against The Machine (S/T)

86. Kendrick Lamar “Good Kid M.A.A.D. City”

87. The New Pornographers “Mass Romantic”

88. Daft Punk “Homework”

89. Yaz “Upstairs At Eric’s”

90. Big Star “#1 Record”

91. M.I.A. “Arular”

92. Moby Grape (S/T)


93. The Hold Steady “Almost Killed Me”

94. The Who “Sings My Generation”

95. Little Richard “Here’s Little Richard”

96. Madonna (S/T)

97. DJ Shadow “Endtroducing”

98. Joe Jackson “Look Sharp”

99. The Flying Burrito Brothers (S/T)

100. Lady GaGa “The Fame”





I probably have the least problem with this list-I'd have included Madonna, and Whitney Houston. Also The Stone Roses and Big Star. In fairness, I've never actually heard Lady GaGa's debut (saw a video once on MTV-looked like Madonna all over again).



WHITNEY HOUSTON-
HOW WILL I KNOW



BIG STAR-IN THE STREET



JOE JACKSON-
IS SHE REALLY GOING OUT WITH HIM







MADONNA-BORDERLINE



THE WHO-MY GENERATION



Friday, August 23, 2013

ROLLING STONE 100 BEST DEBUT ALBUMS LIST (PART THREE OF FOUR)

Rolling Stone has compiled their list of the 100 greatest debut albums of all time HERE, and I thought I would be interesting to contrast their list with the results of the blogfest.

Rolling Stone "discounted" the debut if the artist went on to greater success, and gave extra recognition to debuts where the success was never repeated. They skipped debuts from artists who had left well-known bands.

This explains why Greetings From Asbury Park did not make the top 25, but does not explain why Boston is not in the top ten.

As is the case with most Rolling Stone lists, it suffers from a bit of pandering and political correctness.  So while their guidelines were not a bad idea, some of their choices (and the running order) are, in my opinion, missteps.

Here are the next 25 titles in their top 100 debuts...




51. The Smiths (S/T)

52. U2 “Boy”

53. New York Dolls  (S/T)


54. Metallica “Kill ‘Em All”

55. Missy ‘Misdemeanor’ Elliott “Supa Dupa Fly”


56. Bon Iver “For Emma, Forever Ago”

57. MGMT “Oracular Spectacular”

58. Nine Inch Nails “Pretty Hate Machine”

59. Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Fever To Tell”

60. Fiona Apple “Tidal”

61. The Libertines “Up The Bracket”

62. Roxy Music (S/T)



63. Cyndi Lauper “She’s So Unusual”


64. The English Beat “I Just Can’t Stop It”







65. Liz Phair “Exile In Guyville”


66. The Stooges (S/T)


67. 50 Cent “Get Rich Or Die Tryin”


68. Talking Heads “77”


69. Wire “Pink Flag”


70. P.J. Harvey “Dry”


71. Mary J. Blige “What’s The 411”



72.  Led Zeppelin (S/T)


73. Norah Jones “Come Away With Me”

74. The XX  (S/T)

75. The Go-Go’s “Beauty And The Beat”

As we move down the list, I have fewer problems with the running order, but more with the omissions. No Dire Straits? No Steve Forbert? No Tom Petty?

But 50 Cent is on there. Godda include fiddy, I guess.



CYNDI LAUPER
GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN


THE GO-GO'S- OUR LIPS ARE SEALED



TALKING HEADS-PSYCHO KILLER


NEW YORK DOLLS-PERSONALITY CRISIS


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

FERGIE'S BATTLE



Sad news-long-time melodic rock artist Fergie Frederiksen (Toto, LeRoux, Mecca) has been battling a reoccurrence of his cancer.



Because this health scare has taken him off the road, a donation drive has been organized to help with medical expenses.

Here's what his son Kyler posted last night in launching the campaign:

"Our father, Dennis (Fergie) Frederiksen has taken a turn for the worst in his battle with cancer. At this time we are awaiting a full prognosis of his condition.. We are asking for donations to help our father stay in his apartment, as well as help with everyday living costs ( Food, Rent, Medications, ect.. ). Any and all donations will help my father worry less about everyday living and focus on beating the cancer so he may get back to what he loves to do.. Performing and seeing his friends all over the world.
Thank you in advanced for any donations, prayers, and positive thoughts.

-Kyler Frederiksen, Kolten Frederiksen, Danny Irwin."


Please check out the GoFundMe pledge page and consider adding your support.

LAST BATTLE OF MY WAR