Saturday, February 15, 2014



I'm back!

The five bloggers below are co-sponsoring a blog event on the first and fifteenth of each month. 

Robin (Your Daily Dose) 

UPDATE-I forgot to mention Chris Fries, the sixth, blogger! Sorry, Chris!

Chris Fries

I kind of crashed their party until I ran out of covers of Todd Rundgren songs a couple of weeks ago.

Then Chris Fries (blame him, folks-I'm just a pawn in his sinister scheme) had a good idea that had never occurred to me-why not showcase the examples where Todd covers someone else's material?

Aha! The shoe is on the other foot!

Back in 1976, Todd released his seventh solo album.

The first side of the album was dedicated to "faithful" re-recordings of classic 1960's psychedelic era songs.

In other words, Todd being the chameleon that he is, generated near replicas of these songs.

His cover of the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" was released as a single, peaking at at number 34 on the charts, and is obviously vastly superior to the original, clearly an undisputable fact that I am sure Stephen T. McCarthy will simply agree with without any editorial whatsoever.




    First, I'm almost shocked that you posted this one. I would have figured maybe Robert Johnson Vs. Todd Rundgren - or something like that - would be your first 'Rundgren's Covers' post.

    Writer and music historian David Leaf has said: The release of the Beach Boys album 'PET SOUNDS' "was Independence Day for rock 'n' roll".

    Brian Wilson was working on 'Good Vibrations' at the same time he was putting together 'Pet Sounds', and had it been completed in time, that Beach Boys masterpiece probably would have been included on 'Pet Sounds'.

    To be honest, the whole idea of generating "near replicas of these songs" makes no sense to me. What's the point? We already have the originals. As I've said many times, the reason to record a "cover" of a hit is to try making it your own somehow. The concept of simply trying to totally duplicate an original recording is lost on me.

    Was this a contractual obligation that Todd was forced into, and so he just figured he'd "copy" hit songs to hold up his end of the bargain? (I can't recall what you may have told me about this in the past.)

    At any rate, the Beach Boys track is masterful; it has various "movements" like some sort of Classical orchestral piece, and Rugrat's version adds nuttin' new to it at all.

    As we both already agree... when two versions of a song are too similar, you have to vote for the original songwriter / recording artist.

    This is a slam dunk for THE BEACH BOYS, and I'm surprised you'd even use this contest, let alone BEGIN with it. Your boy Todd is gonna get clobbered in the vote count, Shirley you KNOW that!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. I am serious...and don't call me Shirley...

      It's up first in your honor, my friend, although I am surprised you cannot see the unexpected turn Rundgren took with his version.

      I was certain you had the musical vision to discern that in this case, the cover far exceeded the original.

    2. Okay, I'm full of it.

      This side of Faithful was never my favorite for exactly the reason you state-what's the point. I think my loathing of covers albums is well known, and Todd does not get a pass. The only saving grace for him was that back then he was usually good for two albums a year.

      If I knew what motivated TR to do this, I have forgotten, but this was the closest to a "commercial" album that he had done since "Something/Anything."

      His three solo albums were OUT THERE and the first two Utopia albums were progressive affairs with no singles. The "Initiation" solo album did yield a single (Real Man) that peaked at #83.

      Since "Good Vibrations" bettered that by more than 50 positions, I would guess the covers were a concession to the label (although the originals side had some radio-worthy songs as well).

      Interesting that it made it to #32 though, huh?

  2. Let me start by saying that I am of two minds about the Todd Rundgren version of this song. On the one hand, I kinda feel like you shouldn't remake a song if you can't do it differently. In other words, there is no point in a cover if you don't put your own stamp on it. On the other hand, with this particular song people expect to hear it in a certain way and Todd delivered on that. It sounds very much like the original. I thought that Todd's vocals were excellent and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Where Todd's cover fails (for me) is where The Beach Boys excel... all of the harmony parts. The Beach Boys execute harmony so darn well that it sets them apart. So, while Todd was strong all the way through this one... his harmony vocalists didn't stand up to the original.

    The Beach Boys get my vote, but I can give a nod to Todd on this one for a good effort.

    1. What's interesting Robin, is that enough people bought the single for it to chart (made it to #32).

      That they did not buy the album tells me they are not Todd fans.

      So why wouldn't you just buy the Beach Boys' version (which I will bet was still readily available on 45)?

  3. Back in the early 60's when I first started buying records you could buy a hit 45 for about 99 cents or you could buy a 39 cent version by some unknown group that sounded very similar to the original.

    Todd's version is the 39 cent version of this song. I'll pay a little more and take the higher quality original by the Beach Boys who I predict will handily win this showdown.

    I think even you, Larry, will vote Beach Boys.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

    1. Lee-as of this moment your are BANNED from the blog!

      0.39 cent version indeed. Harumph!

      I kid, and if you look at my replies to both McCarthy and Robin, you'll see that I get

      If you asked me which version I prefer, my knee-jerk answer is Todd's-I owned it for a good twenty years before ever owning anything by the Beach Boys.

      But I am not a fan of cover versions and covers albums-never have been-so if a scientific analysis were done on the grooves of my copy of the album, I'll bet side two had four times as much needle wear as side one.

      Of course, were I to vote TR, think of the fun comments that would ensue between me and McCarthy...

      In the end, alas, integrity would force me to follow the same rule I have applied throughout this series-if the original and the cover are tied, the vote goes to the original.

      In this case they are virtually identical.

      One question for you, Lee-you say "higher quality" with regards to the original-you must not mean sound/production value-that I might actually give to Todd, but of course Brian was working with technology that was a decade older (and if memory serves me, in mono).

      Why this was released as a single mystifies me. Why so many people bought the single mystifies me even more.

  4. I like Todd, I do, but his version sounds like he wants to sound like the Beach Boys and not himself. It's too close the original so I'm going with the original. Beach Boys all the way.

    1. I'm taking my blog and going home!

      Bish-Todd called the album "Faithful," and he intended the side that was covers to be replicas of the originals. I am not sure why (could have read it at some point and forgotten).


  5. I actually remember hearing Todd's version on the radio BEFORE I heard the Beach Boys- which I think is more a problem with childhood memory lapse than anything else. I was perfectly content with Todd's- until I heard Brian. The Boys get this one.

    1. That's interesting, CW, because I am not sure I really hear a difference. Once Stephen T. McCarthy and I had a long discussion because I said I preferred the Todd version even though it was identical.

      At some level, that's true, but mainly because I pull out the "Faithful" album far more often than any Beach Boys stuff.

      So I give the vote to Brian more because of the question of "what's the point" than a clear preference for his version.


  6. Now for my REAL comment, from my phone. Let's see how that goes.

    These are too similar to not give it to the Beach Boys and similar or not theirs is still better IMO.

    1. If I ban everyone who voted for the Beach Boys I wouldn't have any readers left!

      So, you are forgiven, as long as you click your CD copies of "Hermit Of Mink Hollow" and "Nearly Human" together three times, and say, "There's no place like Kauai (Todd's current residence)"

      As I said a few times above, Todd was going for identical, not similar. Not sure why.

  7. Uh, oh, consider this another vote for the Beach Boys, for the same reasons as listed above. A cover should bring something unique to the table, and this doesn't quite achieve that.

    I don't get the banhammer dropped on me too, do I?

    1. Nah, but all the negative Todd comments have changed my vote...I was leaning towards Brian, but I'm going to show Todd some support!

  8. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but when it comes to music, rarely can I imagine an imitation being superior to the original. Sorry, but this example is no exception. The Beach Boys all the way.

    1. Sure, be a follower!

      I was never much of a Beach Boys fan-whether they never got the airplay in Philly or I just didn't listen or I was just a couple years too young, I just never had the bug. So while I had to have heard their version before Todd's, Todd's is the one I remember.

      While I was leaning towards going with the "if a tie give it to the writer" theory, I am changing my mind, and going with the "I've preferred this version for almost forty years" mindset.

  9. These versions are similar but by no means "identical". (If they were "identical", I wouldn't be able to tell if it was Todd's version or Brian's version I was listening to... and I assure you I could always tell the difference inside of two notes. Actually, less than that, because I could tell the difference 100 out of 100 times just by the first word sung, "I...".)

    Also, Brian's version is better. Sounds better, is more intricately layered, with better harmonizing.

    Don't hate me, Bro, but Arlee Bird was right when he said: "Todd's version is the 39 cent version of this song."

    They are similar, but there is a big, very noticeable difference between the two.

    And I still have no idea what Todd was thinking with this project.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. Different strokes for different folks! All the Todd hatin' just makes me like his version more!


    Eight votes for the Beach Boys and my lone vote for Todd!

    1. Ha!-Ha!

      What is the name
      of this musical game?...


      I may have to track down your "Toddgod" and do a "Chapman" on him just to save yer soul, LC. (I can hear the real God in my mind saying, "Kill the Toddgod! Kill the Toddgod!")

      I was thinking of you the other night at work. There's this Geico commercial with the gecko in Philadelphia and he's yakking about cheesesteaks. They show him in front of both Pat's and Geno's. And I was wondering which of those two you liked best.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

    2. I've seen that commercial as well. Of those two, I think I preferred Geno's, but there was not too much difference.

      They were a hike from where I lived, and my favorite place was D&C Steaks on Long Lane in Upper Darby.

      You could get a great cheese steak everywhere-Pat's and Geno's were the places you stopped at when you went out drinking in Philly.

      But for Pete's sake, order real cheese (provolone)-who eats Whiz?

  11. >>... Of those two, I think I preferred Geno's, but there was not too much difference.

    In other words, according to you, Geno's was Toddgod's version of 'Good Vibrations', and Pat's was The Beach Boys' version of 'Good Vibrations'?

    Ha! That just popped into my mind.
    I must be a "geniuass".

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. But Todd's version is clearly superior, so his is more like D&C Steaks, and Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys are Pats/Geno's.

      I do not get the reference to a "Chapman."

  12. >>... I do not get the reference to a "Chapman."



    I fear it is already way, Way, WAY too late for you - you probably CANNOT be saved at this point. But... just on the very outside chance that it's still possible to save what's left of your brain, I am URGING you with all I have to get the phuck outta Feenix, Airheadzona, before you go through one more Summer here in Hell, U.S.A.!

    I'm leaving this state, hopefully, at the end of May. I suggest you DO THE SAME! (Don't forget to request that they give you your brain back at the border. I've definitely got it on my own "To-Do" list.)

    You don't get the "Chapman" reference? Well, let me give you a little help with that (after all, what are friends for?)

    I suggest you go to the blog called "DISCCONNECTED", find the Friday, February 14, 2014 blog bit titled "COMMEMORATING THE INVASION" and just start reading it. Hopefully, something there will ring a bell for ya.

    DiscDude, it's probably too late to save yer mind, but get the hell outta Airheadzona anyway! Who the phuck would wanna die in Hell, U.S.A.?

    [Seriously... I'm not worried about Chris Fries anymore. But YOU!... It is YOU I am worried about now. After you, it's me I worry most about.]

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    I just spent the last hour+ listening to Tom Petty's great 'MOJO' album, and I remembered being introduced to it by you during our trip to Lost Wages, Nevada. Those were the good ol' days, before we both had our brains fried under the Phoenix Sun.

    1. In fairness, I just got back from a prog rock cruise, so I had Chapman Sticks (electronic instruments) on my crispy fried brain...