“Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something…Faithful!”
It was one of Todd Rundgren’s sterling achievements – a single side of music as good as anything he has ever released…
“Rundgren’s ‘clearest and most interesting set of songs since Something/Anything?'”
The album got superlative reviews for the original music on the album, but there was more – because this was Todd’s unique “tribute” album as well – time to celebrate “Faithful!”
Todd’s “10 Year” Musical Tribute!
“Faithful” was Todd’s seventh album, released in 1976. Here is how he described the idea behind it:
“It was my tenth anniversary in the music business…I picked out the songs you would have heard anywhere you went ten years earlier…it was my little tribute to an era that was already ten years gone.”
The quote is from “A Wizard A True Star: Todd Rundgren In The Studio” by Paul Myers, an essential read for all Todd fans!
The first side of “Faithful” was dedicated to “faithful” re-recordings of classic 1960’s psychedelic-era songs, while side two was all new original material.
Side One Of “Faithful” is indeed FAITHFUL – as these are note-for-note exact renditions of some of his favorite songs, beginning with:
“Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” by The Yardbirds, with Jimmy Page, who later of course went onto stardom with Led Zeppelin…
The classic Beach Boys song “Good Vibrations” was next, followed by the somewhat obscure Beatles song “Rain” …
Of course, Utopia would make an entire album of Beatles songs, the controversial “Deface The Music”…you can read about that here:
Todd then moved onto Bob Dylan and “Most Likely You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine”, followed by his Jimi Hendrix cover “If Six Was Nine”…
Todd finishes side on with his other Beatles cover, the psychedelic “Strawberry Fields Forever”…
Here is a fan-created video, the song with various shots of Todd:
Todd’s Brilliant Side Of Music!
Side two of “Faithful” is, to put it simply, a one-sided masterpiece – six songs that capture everything I love about Todd Rundgren as an Artist.
It is as if he wanted to do a collection of “Todd songs” for his “faithful” fans, and boy, are they ever brilliant!
He offers up a classic rock song, several ballads, one of his most soulful songs of all time, and a raucous party song for fans…
“Black and White”
Todd puts his rock hat on with a crunchy tune that has a touch of heavy metal added in.
Here is a great clip of Todd performing with his Utopia bandmates from The Bottom Line in 1978:
Thanks to “mojorisen74” for posting this great live clip!
“Love of the Common Man”
Here’s a perfect Todd single, an upbeat pop song with great lyrics and a catchy hook.
Here is a live performance from 1978, thanks to “mojorisen74” once again!
In 2016, I saw Todd perform in Beverly Hills, and he does a flawless rendition of the song in tandem with “I Saw The Light” – here is that performance:
As you can hear, Todd is still in perfect form, and this side of “Faithful” is almost a “greatest hits” of Todd’s sound…next up was the funky “When I Pray”, and then another song that should have been a hit single:
This song is exactly what should have been released as a single, but wasn’t! More on that in a moment.
Here is a great acoustic version of “Cliche” that Todd performed live on VH-1:
Next is a song reminiscent to me of his classic Utopia song “The Wheel” – a long, soulful story of life and love…
“The Verb ‘To Love'”
“Please come home, I can hear them calling
Please come home, please don’t leave us all alone
Your brothers and your sisters are crying all alone
You got let it magnetize, learn to sacrifice
‘Til we get the true version of the meaning of the verb ‘To Love’
What does it mean to love?”
Here is a video from WDR Studio L in 1977 with Utopia:
Thanks for “rogsteel” for the youtube video! Next up:
“Boogies (Hamburger Hell)”
The closing song, “Boogies (Hamburger Hell)”, opens with a reference to Beefsteak Charlie’s, which former Utopia drummer Kevin Ellman was currently operating along with his family.
This is a fun, energy party song with a great hook – and Todd sounds like he’s having a blast!
The Dynamite “Faithful” Reviews!
Upon release, Todd’s album was hailed as one of his best!
Critic Robert Christgau called the second side of “Faithful”:
“Rundgren’s clearest and most interesting set of songs since Something/Anything?”
Rolling Stone’s rock critic John Milward said this:
“the original material that fills side two is a more ambitious tribute to his influences and his strongest collection of pop tunes since his classic ‘Something/Anything’.”
So Guess What? The Record Label Snuck It Into Release!
Shockingly for an album so highly praised, Bearsville Records barely let anyone know it was out!
The album was released in May 1976 with virtually no advertising. According to reports, Bearsville Records’ president Paul Fishkin decided that Todd’s fans would buy his music, and no one else would, so why spend the money!
The Shocking Decision NOT To Release Any Singles!
Another shocking discovery was the label’s refusal to release Todd’s great new music as singles!
Only the remake of The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” was released as a single and barely charted!
Here is what Fishkin told CREEM magazine:
“Musically, this is one of the most consistent, accessible records Todd has ever done, so we’re doing something unique on another level: we will not be advertising nationally initially.”
WHAT!?!?!?!?! Todd’s most accessible music with some of his best reviews, and NO ADVERTISING!
But, as if to confirm Fishkin’s belief that Todd’s fans would show up no matter what, Todd fans did indeed rush out to support him, and the album made it to #54 on the Billboard Album Charts!
I have to add that someone purporting to be involved from the label side said I was grossly overstating this – but I am only quoting remarks made at the time…I term it a “shocking betrayal” but you can draw your own conclusion…
For me, “Faithful” is an example of Todd following his creative road, but also giving fans plenty to enjoy…and next up for Todd was another masterpiece:
“Hermit Of Mink Hollow” is one of the great albums ever released, and you can see clips from it here:
Todd was also heavily into Utopia at this time, which included live touring:
There is a unique box set of all of their performances at England’s legendary “Knebworth” festival – the sound quality is variable, but it’s a collector’s item for sure:
Read more about it here:
Leave a comment to let me know what you think of Todd’s “Faithful!”