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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
A Wizard, a True Star
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£21.04+ £1.26 shipping

on 23 May 2009
Brian Wilson started the trend several years ago when he performed the album "Smile" for the very first time. Recently, Van Morrison performed the entirety of "Astral Weeks" to rave reviews, as did Lou Reed with the "Berlin" album last year and the year before that.

It was only a matter of time until the enigmatic pop raconteur, Todd Rundgren, re-visited his 1973 psychedelic masterpiece "A Wizard, A True Star" (he'll perform the British Premiere of this seminal album at the London HMV Hammersmith Apollo on 6th February 2010).

A Wizard, A True Star defied the law of gravity when it was originally released on an unsuspecting public 36 years ago. The vinyl edition of the album clocked in an hour's worth of running time, and back in those days, albums, on average, lasted 30-35 minutes.

Forget about the running time shenanigans, think about the music. It was insane but melodic, pretty but subversive, poptastic but bombastic, sexy but banal, exciting and futuristic, progressive and intuitive.

Rundgren encapsulated everything glam rock and prog rock, pop and soul couldn't fathom - a reason to live, and a reason to believe.

From the technicolor blast of "Zen Archer" to "You Need Your Head", "You Don't Have to Camp Around", "Just One Victory", "Dogfight Giggle", "Does Anybody Love You?", "Just Another Onionhead", "Never, Never Land" to the essential "International Feel" - this was the album that made David Bowie do a re-think, and also made every half decent rock star throw the rulebook out the window.

From Daft Punk to Hot Chip, all the really cutting edge bands look to Wizard as the peak of sonic perfection. If there's one psychedlic prog rock pop album you need to add to your collection, this is it.
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on 22 June 2017
One of Todd's best, a real masterpiece. Vinyl sounds fab !
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on 17 March 2016
Totally bonkers and cool album.
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on 30 October 2000
I wasn't sure about this at first, but after finding an old vinyl import copy, it has rarely left my turntable! International Feel is a great opener of the 'uplifting anthem' type; Zen Archer complete with arrow sfx is class; Rock and Roll Pussy sounds like early 70's Zappa; Sometimes.. is one of the best soul/ ballad songs ive ever heard! Some of the synth sounds are a bit dated, but hey, this is the early 70's - all synths sound dated! In short,a superb record - buyit NOW!! Truly, dey dont make em like dat no more!
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on 25 March 2017
excellent and in time
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 April 2013
I don't think I had ever read anything where Todd Rundgren talks about this 1973 masterly 'concept' album - until just now in fact, in the form of the Guardian's article revisiting the making of the album 40 years on. Rundgren does not, however, address the album's perhaps rather immodest (but maybe justified) title, but instead blathers on about what he was hoping (largely unsuccessfully I feel) to achieve with his new 'project', Utopia. Now, of course, Utopia did do some good things, albeit, for me at least, they eventually pursued their prog-rock tendencies rather too far. Similarly, Rundgren put together a great set of 'pop' songs on Something/Anything and had some great moments on Todd (A Dream Goes On Forever, Heavy Metal Kids, Sidewalk Cafe, The Last Ride, etc), but there surely can't be much doubt that A Wizard, A True Star represents the peak of the man's musical achievement. As something of an aside, the fact that the album only charted in the US at number 86, whereas certain other concept albums of the same period occupied the charts for weeks on end simply beggars belief.

It is difficult to know where to begin with such a diverse and idiosyncratic sets of songs. Suffice to say that there really should be something for everyone here, from the sublime (Hunky Dory or Bacharach-like?) melodies of Never Never Land (from the musical Peter Pan), You Don't Have To Camp Around, Sometimes I Don't Know What To Feel, Does Anybody Love You?, Zen Archer and I Don't Want Tie You Down, through the dynamic, sweeping (Ezrin-period Alice Cooper-sounding?) rock of International Feel, When The Sh?t Hits The Fan, You Need Your Head, Is It My Name? to the quirky pop sensibilities of the likes of Tic Tic Tic It Wears Off, Rock And Roll Pussy, Flamingo and Just Another Onionhead. In describing such a multiplicity of styles, I haven't even managed to get on to the 'completely out of left field' phenomenon that is the superlative soul medley of Curtis Mayfield's I'm So Proud, Smokey Robinson's Ooh Baby Baby, The Delfonics' La La Means I Love You and the eccentric, jazzed-up version of The Capitols' Cool Jerk. That then (pretty much) only leaves album closer the adopted concert-closer and positive anthem Just One Victory (which I would consider in the same vein as something like Springsteen's Land Of Hope And Dreams). If that wasn't enough, the man assembled a great cast of supporting musicians for the album, particularly on the brass - featuring jazz men Randy and Michael Brecker and ace sax player, David Sanborn.

All-in-all, a remarkable achievement that has been on and off my 'turntable' for nigh on 40 years - albeit, I probably hadn't listened to it for the best part of 20 years in the latter part of the period, but like all true classics it eventually comes back to bite you. Is there anything of comparable diversity and quality that has been produced since its release? One album, in particular, springs to my mind - The Magnetic Fields' magnificent 69 Songs.

Oh, and to cap it all, it is also (allegedly) Danny Baker's favourite album of all time (I think that should be treated as a positive - only kidding Danny).
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on 30 January 2017
This is brilliant but....... Todd Rundgren's habit of extending the LP playing time well in excess of the limits of the vinyl technology of the time sadly compromised the sonic quality of this masterpiece. The necessity to cut narrow grooves thus reduced the record volume and required the mastering process to compress the frequency range such that AWATS always had a rather flat, dull sound. The CD format could easily now accommodate the length and a wider sound spectrum. Unfortunately, this deluxe edition only seems to have used a revamped version of the original stereo master. It is an improvement on my vinyl but could it be even better? To improve on this, I suspect Todd (or someone) will need to go back to original tapes in the hope that they have a wider frequency range and can be remixed and re-mastered. The fact that no-one has done this yet makes me fear it either won't or can't.
So, do love this this bizarre, weird and wonderful album but, don't expect the Deluxe Edition (with lovely sleeve booklet) to correct the technology limitations of yesteryear.
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Coming after the double-album artistic high of "Something/Anything?" in March 1972 – in the eyes of most fans June 1973’s single LP "A Wizard, A True Star" only cemented Rundgren’s genius even more. It was psychedelic, fun, melodic and more adventurous than the double that preceded it – and it was cool too. It’s hardly surprising therefore that Edsel have chosen it as one of many Todd Rundgren albums worth celebrating with a packaging (book pack) upgrade. Here are the Zen Archer details…

UK released 19 May 2014 (27 May in the USA) - Edsel EDSA 5028 (Barcode 740155502836) is a single CD reissue of their October 2011 Expanded Version of "A Wizard, A True Star" - only this time it’s in a hardback book cover (56:00 minutes).

1. International Feel
2. Never Never Land
3. Tic Tic Tic It Wears Off
4. You Need Your Head
5. Rock And Roll Pussy
6. Dogfight Giggle
7. You Don’t Have To Camp Around
8. Flamingo
9. Zen Archer
10. Just Another Onion Head - Da Da Dali
11. When The S*** Hits The Fan - Sunset Blvd.
12. La Feel Internacionale
13. Sometimes I Don’t Know What To Feel [Side 2]
14. Does Anybody Love You
15. Medley: (a) I’m So Proud (b) Ooh Baby Baby (c) La La Means I Love You (d) Cool Jerk [Impressions, Miracles, Delfonics and The Capitols]
16. Hungry For Love
17. I Don’t Want To Tie You Down
18. Is It My Name?
19. Just One Victory
Tracks 1 to 19 are the vinyl album “A Wizard, A True Star” – released June 1973 in the USA on Bearsville BR 2133 and in the UK on Bearsville K 45513.

The attached booklet within has liner notes by Paul Myers from his superb tome "A Wizard, A True Star – Todd Rundgren In The Studio" and is an excellent read. The gatefold sleeve to the Bearsville vinyl album is here – as is the lyric insert that came with original copies. Unfortunately the barely legible hand-written details and lyrics on that page insert are now shrunk – and even more unreadable. The hard card case bound book has a details sticker on the outer shrink-wrap that easily peels off (if you want to attach it to the book cover).

There is no new remaster that I can hear – this is the Edsel October 2011 version - that in itself was a PETER RYNSTON UK master using the 1993 American Rhino remasters. Don’t get me wrong – the sound is superb – but the only real upgrade here is the packaging - which is a rather lovely thing to behold…

Producing and playing every instrument whilst being (admittedly) stoned out of his tiny fuzzed-up mind – “Wizard’s” various 19 tracks sound like a splurge – but a good one at that. “Zen Archer”, “Le Feel Internacionale”, “Sometimes I Don’t Know What To Feel”, “I Don’t Want To Tie You Down” and the fabulous upbeat glory to “Just One Victory” – it’s all so melodic and trippy cool. Tracks like “You Don’t Have To Camp Around” and “Rock And Roll Pussy” with their one-minute madness can admittedly irritate and the four-cover-versions medley of 10 minutes may overstay its welcome somewhat especially when it gets into the mad “Cool Jerk” end piece (David Sanborn, Mike & Randy Brecker guest on Horns) - but the melodies are all gorgeous. And at a playing time of 56 minutes – the original vinyl LP was always a compromise as a listening experience – so the remaster alters all of that – and so much for the better. The “...gimme gimme gimme...” piano and guitar of “Hungry For Love” segues into the gorgeous piano warmth of “I Don’t Want To Let You Down” – one of the albums true masterpieces of melody. It ends on a song that is somehow now synonymous with Rundgren - the anthemic hope of “Just One Victory” – a tune that would melt the hardest of hearts – especially in a live setting.

Rundgren would release the massively disappointing double album “Todd” next in May 1974 - but would regain his crown with November 1974’s “Todd Rundgren’s Utopia” which was an entirely Prog Rock album - and is a masterpiece of the genre in my eyes – especially the astonishing 30-minute Side 2 opus “The Ikon”.

“A Wizard, A True Star” won't be everyone's cup of Darjeeling for sure and some may feel that in 2015 it's rather dated now. But for me this is a very cool reissue indeed – and from here its jump back Jack to "Something/Anything?" for more of the Toddster's glory daze...
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on 23 September 2017
Superb & intelligent music with a twist which makes today's music sound anemic & bland. The contrast in styles on this album make it so much more interesting & on the whole the concept ideas behind the album work brilliantly. Although nearly 50 years old the music still sounds fresh and alive - I'm glad I grew up during this wonderful period for music and this album brings back the brilliance of that time
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on 25 February 2008
It is a serious injustice to award this album only 5 stars. Worth at least 7. Perhaps Todds finest and most intense work and demands several listens to appreciate what a superbly talented musician Todd was. Just one Victory always leaves me in a cold sweat and When the Sh -t hits the fan middle break suddenly erupts is there any other artist who can make an album as good as this. No.
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