Todd Rundgren - vocals; Backup singers - various
In 1985, Todd Rundgren did a very brave thing. He had just split up his side-project, Utopia, and had grown tired of the constant solo tours that relied heavily on a handful of pop hits from the early and mid-1970s. Hence, he made a record called A Cappella, which featured only the human voice. Rundgren wanted to merge the magic of the doo-wop era with more contemporary pop songs, which he was writing at the time. The result was an album that got mixed response, and yielded no radio hits (with the exception of the infectious "Something To Fall Back On," which did air on some stations).
This show, recorded in Chicago for the King Biscuit Flower Hour, features only Rundgren and a band of backing singers. He does play piano, however, on a stunning version of "Can We Still Be Friends" The material is primarily from the A Cappella album, and is slightly more listener-friendly when presented in a live format. Rundgren, whose fans blindly accepted anything he released, was lucky the audience was so enthusiastic, considering most of the show was void of his big hits, and after a while, the all vocal approach becomes a little arduous. Still, this is an important recording for historic purposes, since it was the only tour of its kind by a major rock star.
Todd Rundgren first became known as the guitarist and driving force behind The Nazz, a psychedelic hard rock band that made very experimental music for the late 1960s. The Nazz made three albums for a division of Atlantic Records before Rundgren went solo in 1970, and scored a hit with the Top 40 song, "We Gotta Get You A Woman." He formed his own, short-lived band called Runt before deciding to make a landmark double album titled Something?/Anything!, where he essentially played all the instruments.
Something?/Anything! yielded the Top 10 smash, "Hello, It's Me," and several other songs that would become concert and FM radio staples. His next album was the over-ambitious, A Wizard, A True Star, which firmly established Rundgren as "The Thinking Man's Pop Star." He soon built a large and loyal following of fans that bought anything he released and attended his concerts. Over the next twenty five years, he would write and record a number of successful albums, and some less-than-successful experimental projects, both as a solo artist and with the band he formed in 1974, Todd Rundgren's Utopia. Many of his songs would end up being hits for others, including "Can We Just Be Friends?" (Robert Palmer); and "Love Is The Answer" (England Dan & John Ford Coley). He also built a solid career as a producer for The Tubes, Hall & Oates, and others.
Today, in addition to making his own music, Rundgren can be found fronting the revived version of The Cars, with Greg Hawkes and Elliott Easton from the original line-up in the band as well.