American Top 40 PastBlast, 12/8/73: Todd Rundgren, “Hello It’s Me”

I don’t think of Todd Rundgren having a distinct production style the way that, say, Jeff Lynne has—that is, I can’t tell just from listening to an album that he’s the one behind the dials. Nonetheless, his work as engineer and/or producer drew notice early on, and he went on to handle a wide range of interesting and well-known LPs in the 70s and 80s: Badfinger’s Straight Up, New York Dolls, Bat Out of Hell (if you haven’t read what Rundgren says he was aiming for with Meat Loaf, check it out here), Next Position Please for Cheap Trick, and one of my very, very favorites, XTC’s Skylarking. (Casey also makes a note on this weekend’s 12/12/87 show that TR produced the fine “I Don’t Mind at All” by Bourgeois Tagg.)

And of course, Rundgren was overseeing his own work, both solo and with Utopia. Among his first efforts was a re-working of a song he’d recorded with the Nazz back in 68. I’ve long thought “Hello It’s Me” was a thoughtful and intelligent take on a relationship that may or may not be going anywhere; I’d put it up pretty high on my list of songs from this period. (The things you learn from Wikipedia: Vicki Sue Robinson, of “Turn the Beat Around” fame, is singing backup.) It’s just reached the Top 10 on this show, coming in at #8—it’d peak at #5. I’ll always take the album version, please.

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