Classic Album – Todd Rundgren – Definitive Rock Collection (CD review)

Todd Rundgren – Definitive Rock Collection (2006) – CD review –

Todd Rundgren’s music career has been a difficult one to digest: he’s a very talented songwriter, who also loves to dabble in the latest technology. So, as a result, he releases a great album and then follows it with some half-baked piece of experimentalism.  That’s why the Definitive Rock Collection is so good; it’s the first-ever Rundgren compilation to just focus on his great songs, and not try and paint a complete picture of his career.

So, you don’t get stabs at innovation like “Born to Synthesize” or goofy novelty numbers like “An Elpee’s Worth of Tunes,” but what you do get is the best, most melodic songs Rundgren has ever written.

Whoever put this collection together was obviously a Rundgren fan. The hits are here, but so are many great album tracks. Even on a dud album, there was usually a good song or two, and this collection finds them. Every Rundgren studio album is represented, up until 1993, and his largely tuneless TR-i phase. We do get “Sweet”, a nice return-to-form pop gem off one of his latest solo albums.

Also a pleasant surprise is the inclusion of several tracks from Rundgren’s side-project, Utopia. Again, kudos to the compilers, who smartly omit the band’s early prog-rock material and concentrate on the band’s catchier songs. Several key Utopia tracks are absent (“Set Me Free,” the band’s biggest chart hit, and “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now,” their biggest MTV hit), but those songs didn’t feature Rundgren on lead vocals and were left off for that reason.

Although some devout Runt fans will undoubtedly complain that one of their favorites is missing, it’s difficult to argue with the excellent song selection.  Thirty Rundgren songs, and all of them are keepers. –Tony Peters