Todd Rundgren – Nearly Human

I recently stumbled across this album again while checking out Spotify. Back in 1989 I had heard of Todd Rundgren from the old hits in the 70’s but wasn’t really a fan. After I heard this album while working at a record store, and hearing how “Todd id GOD,’ I fell in love with it.

I went back and checked out his earlier stuff and wound up being a big fan. This album was, and is great. Check it out when you can:

“Nearly Human is a 1989 album by rock musician Todd Rundgren, released by Warner Bros. Records. It was his first release in four years, although he had been active as a producer in the intervening years. Many of the album’s songs deal with loss, self-doubt, jealousy, and spiritual recovery. It was also the first collaboration between Rundgren and Michele Gray, a singer and ex-model who helped organize the sessions. Gray sang background vocals, both on the record and on subsequent tours, and the pair later married.”

A review from http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/mp54/

Deleted since the mid Nineties, Todd Rundgren’s 1989 album, Nearly Human, must be his most underheard and overlooked album. This is a shame: it was an extraordinary return to form, a soulful exercise recorded live in the studio with the usual luscious, but slightly pinched, production and featuring classic Rundgren tracks, such as ”The Want of a Nail” and ”Hawking”.

In 1990 Todd took his 11-piece band out on the road, compete with a roster of backing singers and guest musicians, to promote the album and showcase his greatest hits, and this double CD set of the extravaganza was recorded at the Sun Plaza in Tokyo. This must have been some show. Rundgren came on in a Western-style costume, according to the liner notes, hamming it up and gyrating across the stage looking like Michael Jackson and sounding like Marvin Gaye.

All but two of the outstanding tracks from Nearly Human are featured. The stomp and groove of ”Unloved Children” must have got the Japanese audience on their feet. Once up, ”Can’t Stop Running” keeps them pounding like a soundtrack to a workout. ”The Want of a Nail”, a powerful bone-shaker with its Bobby Womack-style opening, leaves you gasping for air. ”Hawking”, perhaps the strongest track on Nearly Human, is a beautiful, moving soul song, brilliantly recreated here with Todd in full flood. ”Parallel Lines” is the greatest single he never had.

The collection also includes striking versions of some of Rundgren’s greatest and best-loved songs from the Seventies: the ballad ”Compassion”, from Healing; ”Can We Still Be Friends”, from Hermit of Mink Hollow; ”Real Man” and the much-cherished ”Hello, It’s Me”. He also races through a couple of Utopia rockers: ”Love in Action” from Oops! Wrong Planet and ”Rock Love” from 1980s Adventures in Utopia. Add to this terrific interpretations of ”Secret Society”, with a soaring guitar from Todd, and the heartfelt ”Mated”, a hit for David Grant and Jaki Graham in the Eighties.

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