Most casual music fans wouldn't know Todd Rundgren from a guy on a park bench. But chances are if they haven't heard Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell or the anthemic chorus to Grand Funk Railroad's "We're an American Band" both of which Rundgren produced they most definitely have heard Rundgren sing "I don't want to work/ I just want to bang on me drum all day," from his 1983 hit, "Bang the Drum All Day," or recall his sentimental top-five hit from a decade earlier, 1973's "Hello It's Me."
But with One Long Year, the latest offering from this veteran rocker, technology enthusiast and Internet pioneer, we see that his obscurity is actually his greatest asset.
Rundgren's low profile affords him the opportunity to experiment, which he does with relish here. He embraces drum & bass on "Jerk" and "Mary and the Holy Ghost." He turns to confectionary power-pop to unload on pain-in-the-ass Web-service providers on "I Hate My Frickin I.S.P." (RealAudio excerpt). He explores other variations of pop, rock and folk with songs such as "Where Does the Time Go?" (RealAudio excerpt), on which he sounds like a bearable version of Christopher Cross.
Perhaps most inspired is his reworking of "Bang the Drum All Day" into "Bang on the Ukelele Daily" (RealAudio excerpt), a uke ditty recorded live with bits of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" interspersed. Goofy, for sure, but inspired.