: "A Wizard, A True Star: Todd Rundgren In The Studio"

Paul Myers

(Jawbone Press)

Paul Myers is a professed pop music junkie and his love for the genre allowed him the luxury of recording music of his own while growing up in Toronto (like his critically acclaimed band The Gravelberrys) and to write about it as a fan. His previous books have included biographies of Canada’s The Barenaked Ladies and British musical émigré Long John Baldry.

In Myers’ latest biography he tackles the studio work of International Jack-of-All-Trades Todd Rundgren – and not Rundgren's personal life - through an unprecedented overview of 40 years of recording, production and technological innovation that has impacted the likes of not only the major stars whose careers were launched by his pop music acumen – Meat Loaf, XTC, The Psychedelic Furs, Patti Smith, The New York Dolls, Grand Funk, Sparks, Hall & Oates, The Tubes, Bourgeois-Tagg, and Alice Cooper – but other aspiring one-man operators like Prince. Many know Rundgren from solo works like “Hello, It’s Me”, “I Saw The Light” and the uncharacteristic party anthem “Bang On The Drum” and/or his performance based bands Nazz and Utopia, but few know his behind-the-scenes career which Myers extensively dissects and analyzes with surprising objectivity here.

For those trainspotting Canadiana in the Rundgren catalog, there are stories relating to the albums he cut his teeth on at Bearsville Studios in New York state first as an engineer on The Band’s “Stage Fright” in 1970 and then as producer for Ian & Sylvia Tyson’s “Great Speckled Bird” album, Jericho’s self-titled release and one-and-a-half albums by dual Can-Am citizen Jesse Winchester. Following his golden touch on hit records by Americans and Brits in the 1970s and 1980s, Rundgren would produce two albums with Toronto act The Pursuit of Happiness and Late Show With David Letterman musical director Paul Shaffer’s “The World’s Most Dangerous Party” album in the 1990s.

Between all this, as Myers delves into, Rundgren was juggling his duties as a solo artist and touring artist with Utopia as well as scoring music for television (“Pee Wee’s Playhouse” and “Crime Story”) and film (“Under Cover”).

Myers’ success in writing this book is that he just doesn’t educate the reader about Rundgren’s career, but evokes a mental checklist in the reader where you soon realize, “Hey, I’ve got all those albums. And Todd Rundgren produced them? He’s a genius!”

Jaimie Vernon