State by Todd Rundgren
Most inspired by Todd Rundgren's Official State Visit show at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London last night. Rundgren is in his mid-60s years now but he still takes more risks than any other artist of his generation. So many old hacks on the touring circuit trot out the standards in the same way but Rundgren never humours or second-guesses his audience. Playing with just a couple of Pro Tools-type screens, a guitarist wearing goggles and Prairie Prince of The Tubes on drums Rundgren delivered a full-on electronic dance music set which seemed to baffle at least half of his crowd who grew up listening to his 1970s and 1980s AOR hits I Saw The Light, Hello It's Me, Can We Still Be Friends?, Love Is The Answer (memorably covered by England Dan and John Ford Coley) and Mated.
"He is a genius and I don't use that word a lot," said Jim Steinman after the two men collaborated on Meatloaf's 40 million copy-selling Bat Out Of Hell, which Steinman wrote and Rundgren produced. This kind of praise comes often to Rungdren. His career as a producer (other acts he's worked with include The Tubes and The Psychedelic Furs), multi-instrumentalist and solo artist has incorporated progressive rock, 'proto-punk', new wave and soul, and this eclecticism and virtuosity has led him to become a revered cult figure.
He recently remixed Quiet Place To Live by Lindstrom, the Scandavian cosmic disco DJ/producer, and he followed it up with his take on Elephant, a single by Australian psychedelic rock revivalists Tame Impala. And State, released a couple of months ago, takes his move into electronic dance music a stage further and - like many of his previous records - he takes an innovative approach to a genre whilst slightly taking the piss out of it at the same time. Our favourite tracks on what has to be, lousy competition notwithstanding, our album of the year so far, include Rundgren's take on deep house In My Mouth, the majestic and ludicrous Ping Me, the upbeat, almost McCartney-like Smoke and, below, the dark prog of Imagination.