Tuesday, April 1, 2014


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

Robin (Your Daily Dose) 

I hitched a ride on their bumper featuring Todd Rundgren songs covered by other artists, and having exhausted them, I am continuing with songs by other artists that Todd has covered.

In 2011, Todd Rundgren released an album of covers of Robert Johnson tunes (or as he put it, an album of covers of British guitarists from the 60's covering Robert Johnson).

The songs had a heavy rock guitar arrangement (with bass and drums), where Johnson's originals were acoustic affairs performed solo and recorded in a hotel room.

I could not find a Todd clip for my favorite of the bunch (Dust My Broom), so here is the one I was able to find, along with the RJ original.



Which one do you like better?

This will be my last BOTB post (out of Todd material), as well as my last post for a while (at least for the month of April, since I am not participating in the A to Z endeavor).

I will try to visit as many A to Z posts as possible, and, of course, the BOTB posts while I am on sabbatical.


  1. Gosh, aren't there about a blue million songs that song just like that one with maybe some lyric changes. Sometimes the blues remind me of Neil Young's comment in response to someone saying all his songs sounded the same and he said "It's all one song". Maybe that's the blues.

    Anyway, Johnson's version is okay from a historical perspective and at times I'd probably even get into it a lot, but between the two versions I've gotta go with Todd's version. It's cleaner with better vocals and instrumentals and it's just more updated to suit my listening preferences.

    It's a good match up though. I've got a few similar ones waiting in the hopper for upcoming battles.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

    1. Lee-

      In 1975, Todd said to Rolling Stone something like:

      "every pop song that is going to be written already has been," which is essentially the same thing, but nowhere do you hear it more than with the blues.

      Yet, the music speaks to me.

      Sadly, I think the lack of fidelity on the Johnson recordings does hurt them...but it was in the 1930's in a hotel room, so there's no way they would not suffer from sonic comparison.

  2. Wow. They don't even sound like the same song.

    You will be happy to know that Todd easily wins this one for me. I didn't care for Robert Johnson's rendition. And maybe just not for Robert Johnson period. I don't know as I haven't heard any of his other songs.

    But, this is what a remake SHOULD be... a totally different take on the same song. And Todd nailed it. Fan-tas-tic.

    1. Robin-

      I am not enough of a guitarist to understand that while many of the 1960's cite Johnson as an influence, you almost cannot hear him at all in the covers of his songs from the time period.

      I wish I could have found clips of "Dust My Broom," as that is my favorite Rundgren cover of the bunch.

  3. Sorry Todd, no contest. robert Johnson gets my vote.

    I admit Todd's version was better than I expected, but still no contest.

    I'll miss you on BOTB. Enjoy you 'blogcation', I can relate. I have been unable to do little more than BOTB and the results posts myself.

    1. Wow-a little surprised at the "no contest" vote, but you can't go wrong voting for RJ.

      My introduction to the blues was George Thorogood back in 1978 or so, and the TR cover is what I thought blues was supposed to sound like before discovering the Johnson recordings a decade or so later.

    2. I'm born and raised in Chicago...while the family is from the South...need I say more. Perhaps if you knew that you wouldn't be surprised, but you know me; I fon't really like to talk about myself.

    3. Well, the Chicago part might make me thik you'd go with the rock version, but RJ's version is all southern blues...

  4. I've gotta go with the first version. For that song, I prefer the more intimate sound of acoustic guitar. (When I bought myself a new guitar, the first thing I did was remove the steel strings and replace them with nylon. Made my son-in-law nuts.)

    Enjoy your break!

    1. Susan-

      How you're going to have to go learn some Robert Johnson songs!

      The blues is a tough genre...when artists do covers, my initial reaction is "great...another version of the same song."

      Yet, rarely do I hear newer original blues songs that are as good as the old classics!

      If you like acoustic blues, I would highly recommend the first two albums from Keb' Mo.

  5. Of course, I've heard BOTH versions of this song before because I have them on compact discs.

    I actually like Todd's version quite a bit, it's a nasty hard rocker with a great electric riff. When I was 17 years old, I would have been wild about Todd's take on this.

    But... you already knew even before you posted this which one I was gonna vote for. It's really Blues Versus Rock, and I'm a Bluesman.

    Can't match the depth of feeling of the Robert Johnson originals. I have to be in the right mood to play Robert Johnson's stuffs, but when I am, man that stuffs pierces like a dart! (Back in my hard drinkin' days of the early 1980s. Robert Johnson was what Twinkie and I would listen to at about 3 AM when everyone else was already passed out. Johnson at 3, with a heavy buzz on - can't beat that, blokes!)

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. Not a surprise vote, Stephen.

      Actually the only two TR covers where his cover is the hands down favorite for me are "Dust My Broom" and "Hellhound"

      For some reason, I think the rock arrangement suits them better.

      I do wish Johnson had lived to record better quality versions of his tunes, because the fidelity of those recordings leaves a lot to be desired (but what are you going to do)?

      You do nail one big point, though-the Toidd cover is all about rock and roll, and the RJ original conveys an emotion that Todd's does not. Listening to the original almost requires you to be sipping bourbon while listening...

  6. I think I'm pretty easy to guess on this one. Utopia always sounded best to me on songs like this. Todd.

    1. I don't think you can go wrong either way here, CW!

  7. I always love to see what different artists can do in their own interpretations of a song. The differences between interpretations can be staggering.

    1. Thanks Trisha-do you have a preference of versions?

  8. Those two versions were as different as night and day. Have to say, I really dig Todd's version. Had a great riff.

    1. Alex-

      I think the acoustic blues is an acquired taste. Back when he started out, I picked up Keb Mo's debut CD based on the reviews, not knowing it was acoustic blues. It took some getting used to, but there is an emotion that comes across that the more rocking arrangements kind of overwhelm.

      If you ever get a chance, check out the Rundgren cover of "Dust My Broom."

  9. I think you said it best with your comment above. That acoustic blues really is an acquired taste. For me, Robert Johnson's version is just too "simple." I don't really like it. So to hear Todd expand on it and put a full set of instruments on it - I think that really makes the song shine.

    For me, Todd by a mile.

  10. Letting everyone know, so I don't get sued for copyright infringement, that I'm doing a sort-of BOTB inside my Time Machine post this week!