Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Todd Rundgren: Something/Anything? [Bearsville, 1972]
I don't trust double albums, especially when all sixteen cuts on three sides were laid down by the singer-composer-producer and all seven on the fourth by a studio pickup band. But this has the feel of a pop masterpiece, and feel counts. The many good songs span styles and subjects in a virtuoso display that runs from the evanescent "I Saw the Light" to a true tale of high-school grossouts called "Piss Aaron." And the many ordinary ones are saved by Todd's confidence and verve. The studio pickup side, for instance, gains genuine meaning from his tongue-in-cheek notes ("I drafted it into some sort of operetta, that kind of thing being very popular nowadays"). Studio games that would infuriate me on somebody else's record add context here. And his perpetual adolescence is winningly lyrical and winningly snide, though rarely at the same time. A-