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Todd Rundgren’s Johnson CD

So, the latest album by Todd Rundgren is finally out in stores – Todd Rundgren’s Johnson. It’s basically Rundgren’s take on ol’ bluesman Robert Johnson, just in time to celebrate what would have been Johnson’s 100th birthday. This project was recorded in the same fashion as 2008′s Arena album. Essentially Rundgren recording by himself (except for Kasim Sulton on bass) onto his laptop.

What a missed opportunity!! I’m pointing out the obvious but come on, drum machines and “the blues” absolutely DO NOT mix. YES, YES, I understand that Rundgren had no recording budget for this project but this is just “demo quality” work that he’s passing off as a “real” album. The drum samples sound horrid on the CD – almost “casio keyboard” like in quality. I’m not sure if the drum samples (especially the cymbals) used are of low bit rate quality but it’s almost comical. No one is going to take these Robert Johnson covers seriously when it sounds like something any dude could have done using “garage band” on a MAC in his bedroom.

Rundgren and/or the record company (MPCA) should have put up the extra dough to overdub Prairie Prince (Todd’s drummer) on top of these tracks, at the least. They definitely had the time to do it since MPCA sat on the album for over a year. well, I can’t really blame them now that I’ve heard the “finished product”. They probably didn’t have any confidence in the recorded material and just kept on delaying the release date of the album ’til they could figure out how to market this thing.

If I were MPCA, I would have pushed back and released Rundgren’s live performance of the Johnson album instead of these “demos”. Since the April 11th, 2010 performance at the Ridgefield Playhouse was recorded for streaming purposes via the web, I’d think that it wouldn’t have taken much more effort to issue the live recordings in place of Todd’s demos. Maybe just a remixing and mastering issue. Todd and the band performed these Johnson covers a hundred times better live than what was recorded by Todd alone. Plus the live setting and the interplay among the musicians in the band would have given these blues covers a bit more authenticity in my book.

But again, it’s just a long line of miss opportunities in the history of Todd. Oh well, it’s par for the course I guess. now don’t get me wrong, it’s not ALL bad. I like Todd’s arrangements and his guitar work is stellar on the new CD. But in terms of the way the CD sounds, it’s just embarrassing. You won’t find me playing the CD for any of my buddies. Actually, there’s not much desire to relisten to this at all.

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New Kate Bush material expected in 2011 plus reissues

This is a bit of a surprise! I’ve all but given up on expecting anything new from Kate Bush but there’s been some buzz about some new material that may or may not be released this year. Nothing solid in terms of details but NME confirmed with Bush’s spokesperson that there is indeed new music on the way.

A career-spanning retrospective (along with a few new tracks), perhaps? sounds like it since the spokesperson indicated that it won’t be a full album’s worth of new material. Musicweek also recently posted that 4 Kate Bush reissues will be out later this year on CD:The Dreaming, Hounds Of Love, The Sensual World and The Red Shoes. No details on extra tracks or packaging.

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The Outfield – California Sun – Playlist Best of CD

With original drummer Alan Jackman back in the fold, it looks to be a banner year for fans of80′s band The Outfield. The band and their management are setting the stage for a major comeback. Yes, John Spinks and Tony Lewis have been carrying on as “the Outfield” off and on after their 80′s heyday. But now that all three original members are together again, things seem a bit more exciting.

Sony/Columbia is the first out of the gate with a new greatest hits compilation titled Playlist: The Very Best of The Outfield. It features the usual suspects (Your Love, Since You’ve Been Gone, For You, My Paradise) but the main attraction is a brand new track by the reunited trio titled “California Sun”. It doesn’t look like the new track will be available as an mp3 download at the moment so the new CD might be the only way to get the new tune. Well, it’s not a huge problem since the CD is currently on sale for only $6.39 at CDUniverse.

And that’s not all. According to management, a brand new album is scheduled to be released sometime in the spring along with a full blown tour to support it. The album will be titled “Aladdin’s Cave“. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing the new material.

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Utopia Reunion Webcast from the Highline Ballroom New York

Wow. Someone had a change of heart at the last minute! Management kept on insisting all this time that there would be NO webcast of the Utopia Reunion that is scheduled to take place at the Highline Ballroom this Saturday and Sunday (January 29th and 30th) in New York City. But TODAY, Nevessa Productions just announced that they’ll be broadcasting the concert (the Jan. 30th show) via todocast starting February 2nd, on-demand for 30 days. So, get your credit cards out and order the webcast/VOD to see this ultra-special reunion of Utopia (Mark II) for $19.95. As you probably already know, these two gigs are especially for Moogy Klingman who’s battling cancer at the moment. So if you can’t be there in person to support Moogy, this is the perfect alternative. head over to todocast to purchase this webcast.

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Todd Rundgren and The Roots – Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

It was great to see Todd Rundgren appear on network TV again. Rundgren was the musical guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night. He played with Fallon’s house band The Roots in and out of commercial breaks and performed “I Saw the Light” at the end of the show. I’m sure it was a treat for the studio audience to see and hear the full performances. TV viewers only got to hear snippets of other Rundgren songs like “Can We Still Be Friends”, “Hello It’s Me (Meester)”, “Under the Ice”, “I Went to the Mirror” and “Breathless”.

The NBC site also features a bonus clip of Todd and the Roots doing Couldn’t I Just Tell Youthat wasn’t part of the broadcast. kudos to Jimmy Fallon, the Roots and Paul Myers (who reportedly helped get Todd on the show) for featuring this underappreciated musical genius!!

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New music from Ray Charles – Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters

Here’s a treat for fans of the late, great Ray Charles. Concord Records is releasing Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters this week. Apparently producer John Burk stumbled upon unfinished recordings and demos by Charles in the vault. Burk took the tapes and completed the songs with a variety of musicians in the studio. Who knew there’d be new music after all these years from the legendary Ray Charles?

Highlights include a special rendition of Kris Kristofferson’s “Why Me, Lord?” and a duet with Johnny Cash from 1981. Also, the official Ray Charles website is currently offering a free download from the new CD. When you sign up for the download, you’re automatically entered for a drawing to win an 11 CD collection of Ray Charles music!

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Shaun Cassidy performed on Oprah this week

70′s teen idol Shaun Cassidy made a rare TV appearance on Oprah this past week. It was great to see him after all these years. He seemed to have a good perspective on his fame and appeared humble before all the adoring middle-aged moms in the audience. heh.

seeing Shaun on the show gave me a reason to dig up his 1980 release, WASP which was produced by Todd Rundgren. It’s just as bad as I remembered. heh. Some may think that Rundgren ruined Cassidy’s career with this left-turn of a record but the truth is that Cassidy’s music career already stalled by the time Rundgren got his hands on him. But then again, with a crappy David Bowie cover such as this one, Rundgren sure didn’t help the cause. for today’s RetroBlog song of the day – here’s Shaun’s awful (but funny in that oh so bad way) cover of Rebel, Rebel from the album, WASP.