“It’s Everything You Wanted From Todd…And More!”
And with those words, time to head back to the old days, when Warner Brothers records actually PROMOTED a Todd album – and they had good reason to: because it’s another Todd masterpiece!
Behold a brilliant slab of pop majesty!
As Todd web fans know, I have posted a number of stories about fascinating aspects of Todd’s career, and I Love ALL of Todd’s music: from Nazz to “Wizard”, “S/A” and “Healing” plus everything in between, all way way through “Nearly Human”, TR-I and Todd’s latest “STATE” as well. His musical experimentation and boundary-breaking as always been done in pure Todd style, which is also why I think all of us love to talk about it so much!
Whatever musical path Todd chooses to follow, I am right there with him – as are all true Todd fans…and since I recently got hooked – AGAIN – on his classic power pop song “Determination”, it got me looking at the entire “Mink Hollow” album…first, here’s the brilliance of “Determination”…
Thanks as always to “rogsteel” for sharing this live performance from Cleveland in 2011…
Some Todd Trivia About “Hermit Of Mink Hollow!”
“Determination” is just one of then classic Todd songs from his masterpiece – even though, at the time, he was just looking to make some fun music…
“I wasn’t trying to create incredibly new styles,” Rundgren said of the LP in the CD reissue liner notes. “I was trying to come up with simple, accessible but emotionally rich songs and bring it to a logical conclusion.”
Well, “emotionally rich songs” is an understatement! “Hermit Of Mink Hollow” is literally a “greatest hits” collection of Todd’s finest songwriting skills…and I wanted to go through the album to look at just how great these songs are…FYI, I got a lot of this material from a great article you can read HERE:
Todd Gets Advertised!
We all know how difficult it was for Todd to get support from his record label – but they got behind “Hermit”, including this great radio spot advertising the album, with the line “It’s everything you wanted from Todd…and more!”
Released in early-April 1978, ‘Hermit’ was heralded as a “return to form” for Todd, who stripped things down to the core on ‘Hermit’ and let the songs shine!
Here is the track list for “Hermit Of Mink Hollow”:
Side one – The Easy Side
“All the Children Sing” – 3:08
“Can We Still Be Friends” – 3:34
“Hurting for You” – 3:20
“Too Far Gone” – 2:38
“Onomatopoeia” – 1:34
“Determination” – 3:11
Side two – The Difficult Side
“Bread” – 2:48
“Bag Lady” – 3:13
“You Cried Wolf” – 2:20
“Lucky Guy” – 2:04
“Out of Control” – 3:56
“Fade Away” – 3:04
According to the article referenced above, the original LP was divided into ‘The Easy Side’ and ‘The Difficult Side’ after a Warner Brothers executive thought Rundgren’s original running order lacked balance! Todd complied with his own twist on things – pure Todd!
“I don’t know what they were talking about” he told Trouser Press magazine upon the LP’s release, “I did it figuring it was their wank and they can think what they want.”
So, after giving the label an “easy” way out, the album kicks off with a gorgeous slice of pop, “All The Children Sing.”
mojorisen74 posted a very rare video for this slice of pop brilliance on youtube:
Joyous is the first word that comes to mind here, a song that literally glistens with energy – and a pure Todd sound…
“Can We Still Be Friends”
That joy is quickly followed by the turmoil of ‘Can We Still Be Friends,’ Todd’s biggest hit from the album. According to many biographies, the song came from his recently ended tumultuous relationship with girlfriend Bebe Buell.
It is one of Todd’s great songs, but “Hurting For You” and “Too Far Gone”, which follow, are also beautiful songs that continue the examination of a breakup…
“Hurting for you
Sad, but I can’t deny it, there was nothing else I could do
I was one of the many struck by it”
“I’m too far gone, and it’s no use pretending
I could ever forget what I done
I’m already too far gone,
I got no bridges left to burn…”
Todd was Todd as always, as the next song, the whimsical ‘Onomatopoeia’ certainly lightens the mood and showcases his sense of musical humor.
“It’s the freaking Marx Brothers!” Rundgren said…
Side one ends with one of my all-time favorite Todd songs:
As I said before, to me this is a perfect slice of 70’s power pop – thanks again to “rogsteel”, who posted this great live version on youtube:
‘Determination’ still ranks as one of his finest pure pop moments, right up there with ‘Couldn’t I Just Tell You’ and ‘Open My Eyes’ by Nazz…what a great “easy side” to this album!
“The Difficult Side!”
Side two opens with Todd’s impassioned rocker about the issue of hunger in our country…a tough-as-nails song with a “Black Maria” vibe…
“I hear the cries of children at night
I watch their faces grow sallow with hunger
Who draws the line between what’s wrong and right
And when I ask what my life is for
It’s all been for nothing
Save your regrets for the dead, but for the living
Give them love and give them bread”
Next up is one of Todd’s most haunting ballads…Lion Keezer posted this live version of the beautiful poem “Bag Lady” on youtube…
Todd plays all the instruments on the album and does all the vocal harmonies as well. As the article states:
“Todd makes it sound effortless as it all blends together seamlessly and stands as one of the most perfect self-assembled recordings ever made.”
“Mink Hollow” was, of course, the name of the road Rundgren lived on at the time, and where he recorded the album. Next up is “You Cried Wolf”, another crunchy rocker in the “Woldman Jack” vein – then his beautiful ballad “Lucky Guy”…
The album’s hardest rocker is up next: “Out Of Control”…Todd lets it all hang out here in a “Heavy Metal Kids” way…and then the album ends with another one of my favorite Todd songs, “Fade Away…”
Here is a live version from Amsterdam in 2012 with the Metropole Orchestra, thanks to “unicapb21”:
I love the way “Fade Away” begins so softly on this life performance, while on the album it glistens just as “All The Children” did at the beginning of the album.
That’s the pop brilliance of “Hermit Of Mink Hollow”, just one of Todd’s endless series of great albums…putting this on and letting it play over and over is a great way to begin or end a day…
And of course, I posted before about Daryl Hall and Todd’s long musical friendship, culminating in Todd and Daryl performing “Hermit”‘s signature song on “Live From Daryl’s House”…here is the beauty of “Can We Still Be Friends”:
Read all about this amazing musical friendship by clicking here:
I hope you enjoyed this look at Todd’s masterpiece. Let me know what you think!
And of course, check out my story on Todd’s STATE CD…new music from Todd!