81 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2003
Todd Rundgren's double-album SOMETHING/ANYTHING? (1972) was a diverse juggernaut of catchy pop, R&B/Soul, hard rock, psychedelia, scatological humor, and other styles which may be difficult to classify. However, the album is fairly accessible throughout. It was this album that Todd received a huge slice of mainstream success. However, since many had perceived him *solely* as a soft rock/ballad writer, Todd chose to abandon mainstream rock for many years after this album - making some of the most experimental music this side of any notable experimental artist. The unfortunate misconceptions and the willful misrepresentation of an artist's creativity has been bestowed upon other artists as well (Queen comes to mind), which misleads listeners into thinking that an artist specializes in one particular style, and therefore, helps to blind fans from enjoying an artist's work to it's fullest when an album is bought, and listened to in it's entirety. Or perhaps, it's just simply that many listeners are staunch in their listening preferences, and wouldn't be able to tolerate hyper-diversity from the start.
Getting to this album. The album is divided into four distinct halves, and Todd plays all of the instruments, and provides all of the vocals for the first three halves of the album. The first half (Disc 1, Tracks 1-6) is called "A Bouquet of Ear-Catching Melodies," and is comprised of mostly catchy, melodic pop tunes. "I Saw The Light" has been compared to Carole King. While his vocals seem like Carole King, the music on this track is much more upbeat and energetic than any typical King song. "Wolfman Jack" makes me wonder if it was inspired by the television host of the same name throughout the 70s. A fun, catchy, 50s-like track. "Cold Morning Light" is probably my favorite from this half. A lovely, airy, melancholic R&B ballad featuring Todd performing some wispy, poignant vocals.
The second half (Disc 1, Tracks 7-13) is called "The Cerebral Side," and is comprised of cerebral, experimental and/or psychedelicesque tracks. The Intro is Todd giving the listener a tour on studio functions. Quite a fun and interesting listen, while "Breathless" is a indescribable instrumental blending psychedelic, symphonic, R&B and dance flavors filtered through electronics. "Song of The Viking" seems like a tribute to Gilbert & Sullivan, as it's a quirky, show tunes-rock track. Todd doesn't have a British accent, so it's interesting hearing his voice backed up by a mostly British style of music. Fans of Queen, Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa and selected others will be especially fond of this track. Listen to this track, as well as many others on this album, on a good pair of headphones to catch many of the subtleties that may otherwise be missed.
The third half (Disc 2, Tracks 1-5) is called "The Kid Gets Heavy" and shows a more rocking side to Todd Rundgren. "Black Maria" is a slow rocker, while "One More Day" is a tasteful, soulful number. "Couldn't I Just Tell You" is unbelievably tasty and infectious - so much so, it hurts to listen to this at times. It's that good. The vocals, guitar strumming - everything here is excellent, while "Little Red Lights" is a scorching rocker, featuring roaring distortion to resemble that of Jimi Hendrix. The fourth half (Disc 2, Tracks 6-12) is called "Baby Needs A New Pair of Snakeskin Boots," which is a live in-studio recording featuring a full band, and is supposed to be a rock operetta. Each track features silly, funny comments and shenanigans at the end and beginning of each track by band members, which are made to look like dialogue, and are reprinted as such in the sleeve. "Dust In The Wind" is a poignant ballad with some tasteful, R&B-esque guitar, sax and lovely vocals, while "Piss Aaron" is an hilarious song dealing with a person who has trouble with his bladder. "Hello It's Me" is the elegant Philly Soul/jazzy ballad that everyone probably knows Todd Rundgren by. However, when hearing this song in the context of the rest of the album, one will have the right perspective regarding Todd's musical personality, as the dialogue heard before and after the song ends was never heard on the radio. This offers an interesting perspective. "You Left Me Sore" is also somewhat hilarious, at least when hearing the dialogue. This song is something of a double-entendre: it can mean that the protagonist was left sore due to his love leaving him, or it could mean he was left sore - literally, after contracting a venereal disease. You decide. While "Slut" is a Rolling Stonesesque rocker to close out this juggernaut.
This album is definitely the recommended place to start as you get the essence - the closest you'll get to the FULL essence - of Todd Rundgren's creativity, and arguably at it's most accessible. The album is infectious, diverse, cerebral, intelligent and utterly moving. Don't believe the idea of Todd being just a ballad writer, as his styles run the gamut.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Something/Anything? is a sprawling, ambitious double album from studio wiz Todd Rundgren. For the first three quarters of the album, Mr. Rundgren plays all the instruments, sings all the parts and produces. It was a pattern that Prince would follow for much of his essential work. The last side of the original album was a live in studio song suite that he recorded with a full band. The album touches on numerous musical styles for power pop to rock to soul to jazz and everything in between. But it doesn't matter what the musical style is or method of recording, the effort is the strongest of his career. The album's opening track, "I Saw The Light", is an amazing piece of music. It has a glossy, Wall of Sound style with a multi-layered and textured vocal. It is one of the ten best songs from the 70's and a classic. "The Night They Burned The Carousel Down" is an ambitious effort, "Black Maria" has a gothic feel, "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference" has a soulful style, "Piss Aaron" is a humorous song about a kid who can't control his bowel movements and "Slut" is a blaring rocker with a glam rock feel. "Couldn't I Just Tell You" is a great, fast paced song with a great acoustic guitar riff. "Hello, It's Me" was originally recorded with his first band the Nazz back in 1968. Mr. Rundgren didn't not sing lead on the Nazz version, but he provides a Philly soul inspired effort that propelled the song up to number five making it his only top ten hit. Something/Anything? is often overlooked and rarely mentioned when discussing the all-time great records, but it a great effort that stands toe to toe with just about any record released in the 70's.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 1999
My boyfriend recently purchased "Something/Anything?" for me and it has rarely left my stereo since. In 1972 I was around four years old, and I never really paid any attention to Rundgren, spending my formative years listening to Bowie and Costello, oblivious to what would years later become one of my favourite CD's. I haven't been this charmed since first hearing Phil Seymour. This is what bliss sounds like, unadulterated joy and catchy pop sensibilty, at times almost painful in it's sincerity. All too wonderful.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2005
I bought the CD of this album recently, not having heard most of the songs on it for a good 20 years or so. Hearing it again has been nearly overwhelming. It's hard to believe that Todd was so young when he wrote and recorded this album. A kid barely out of high school synthesized pretty much all of the rock and roll and pop music of the previous 15 or 20 years and produced an album (a double album, in fact) that is not only entertaining from start to finish but also contains a half dozen or so songs that approach power pop perfection. It's easy to forget that the album came out in 1972, well ahead of some other supposedly seminal hard pop pioneers. (After rediscovering Todd, it is hard for me to get quite as excited about Big Star, for example; as good as their albums are, most of the tasty bits on them can be found in abundance on Todd's earlier efforts.) His influences are pretty obvious: the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Smoky Robinson, Marvin Gaye and other Motown artists, Booker T and the MGs and others on the Stax/Volt Memphis scene, but he really did advance things quite a bit, and many of the songs on this album would be hits today. Among those are "Couldn't I Just Tell You" (my personal favorite and without a doubt one of the best pop songs ever written), "Hello, It's Me" (a pretty big radio hit in its own right, back when AM radio played music and FM was all talk), "I Saw the Light" (as Todd put it, just like Motown, the single is right at the beginning), "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference," "Cold Morning Light," "Dust in the Wind" (not written by Todd, but still years ahead of the Kansas chestnut of the same name), "One More Day" (almost a show tune), and several guilty pleasures that are tossed off like afterthoughts ("Piss Aaron" and "SLUT" for example). The best thing about the album now is that it still stands on its own two feet. There's nothing really dated about it nor is it overly identified with some "movement" or another, which tends to intrude on the actual musical experience (e.g., Richard Hell's "Blank Generation" or immediately post-Roxy Music Brian Eno). You don't have to like it because you're supposed to; you can just like it. Rarely have my high school musical tastes been so thoroughly vindicated! (We'll see how well they hold up when I start back in on the Yes catalog.)
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2002
Before I bought this album (a few days ago), my only TR disc was "A Cappella," the painfully underrated vocals-only album that contained lots of great songs and wasn't at all just a gimmick. But enough people insisted that the perennial critical favorite "Something/Anything?" was a force to be reckoned with in pop music. And how can you refuse a two-disc set at this price?
I was pleasantly surprised. Not only does this album contain genuine power-pop masterpieces ("I Saw the Light," "Hello It's Me"), there's also plenty of great experimental stuff to chew on as well ("Breathless," the "My Roots" medley). Plus, Todd plays all the instruments himself (on the first three "sides" of the album, anyway). It's amazing how well he handles each instrument.
This disc belongs in your collection. If you love XTC, Laura Nyro, Van Morrison, the Beatles, Squeeze, or any other fine songwriters, you owe it to yourself to check this one out.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2001
A highly subjective assessment on my part, granted. An evaluation that would be ripped to shreds by musicologists, rock historians and critics, for justifiable reasons. But, to wit: I have collected many, many, many albums and CDs in my 34 years. I have finished entire collections from several artists. Approximately 10,000 records and CDs have crossed into my address since I was a young'un, from "Sgt. Pepper" to "Astral Weeks" to "Pet Sounds" to "London Calling" to "Never Mind the Bollocks" to "Nevermind" to the Bay City Rollers' "Dedication." None of them are as good, as complete, and as perfectly executed as Todd Rundgren's third solo album. This is a textbook in the craft of pop songwriting; not a single melody sounds dated, and every track sounds like an archetype of its genre. What really sold me on this album was its humor: Todd might be a megalomaniacal control freak to some (hello, XTC!), but one who can poke fun at himself in minuets like "Song of the Viking" and "I Went to the Mirror." The final side's bogus "rock operetta" is great fun to listen to, as much fun as the musicians sound like they're having. Every other song is perfection, but not the precise, cold perfection of an artiste: it's terrifically warm, innocent and smartass all at once. And tellingly, Todd never again made such a consistent, expert album, not even when he kept it to one disc. I bought this album as a 15-year-old in the spring of 1982. It ascended to my favorite album status later that year. It has not been budged, not even close. It's ruled every summer since then. It's the greatest album in the history of pop music. Poke at my effigy and scoff if you will, but I ain't movin'.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2005
this is it. There is no album from the early seventies that will haunt you as long. I heard this on the recommendation of my college roommate, and ever since, it has remained in my top ten "if stranded on a desert island" list. It is heart aching, belly aching, brain aching, and absurdly entertaining. If only Todd could have spread this out or concentrated it again over the past 30+ years...but I'm so glad he gave us this one, singular masterpiece. The test of timeless.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2005
There are a handful of records that bubble to the top when considering which are the best in the Todd Rundgren catalog. But only one pops out beyond the catalog to earn a spot as universally classic, and this is the one.
On Something/Anything, Todd mines his early influences-- singer-songwriters like Laura Nyro and Carol King; the Beatles; the Beach Boys; Motown; Clapton-- to create a dazzling pop song cycle that helped to invent (along with Big Star, Badfinger and the Raspberries) the genre known as power pop. As he says in the liner notes about one of the tunes, "the hits just keep on coming." This is a classic and traditional pop-rock record about boys and girls, about love and longing and teenage heartbreak. It is a genre he has an uncanny knack for, even though he steadfastly avoided it most of the rest of his career.
Some of the best-known and best-loved Todd songs are here: "I Saw the Light" (brilliant); "Hello Its Me;" It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference." There are lesser-known nuggets that are every bit as sweet as the hits: "Marlene;" "Saving Grace;" "Torch Song." "Black Maria" is a stinging guitar rave-up. "Slut" is a joyous slice of glam-rock that is so archtypal that Big Star included it in their set for their 1993 reunion and thereafter. The fact that htere are two whole records of this stuff is almost unfathomable.
The follow-up, A Wizzard A True Star, is as radical a left turn as any artist has made, equally compelling but in a very different (and tripped out) way. But if you want to check out the most universally appealing manifestation of the genius of Todd Rundgren, well, it begins right here.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2001
Upon the initial complete first listening of "Something/Anything", perhaps the conclusion you just might come to is that it's two albums in one - in that one, it gives you the feel of what a recording session sounds like. Two, with so many different musical styles displayed here, "Something/Anything" sounds like the ultimate concept album, which, in a way, it is. Todd Rundgren puts his all both musically and creatively into this double-CD of songs that range from the sublime ["Wolfman Jack", "It Takes Two To Tango (This Is For The Girls)" and "The Night The Carousel Burnt Down"], to the ridiculous ("Intro", "Saving Grace", [with its bizarre, Satanic-like intro], "Song Of The Viking", "I Went To The Mirror" [with its warped, psychedelic-etched vocalization done by TR], "Piss Aaron" [join Todd as he takes you on a guided tour through high school life, with the adventures of three misguided, aimless lads named "Piss Aaron", "Dumb Larry" and "Chuck Biscuits"] and "Some Folks Is Even Whiter Than Me". If its sensible tunes you're looking for here, don't despair, 'cause TR aims to please with "I Saw The Light" and "Hello It's Me", both of which made the Billboard Top 20 charts in 1972 and 1973, respectively. Can't get enough of those sensible, heart warming ballads? To wet your appetite, there's "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference". This Rundgren composition was also recorded by Canadian singer-songwriter Tom Middleton, whose version of this tune was out at the same time Todd's version was. But, unlike Rundgren's original rendition, which didn't chart, Middleton's version latched onto the Canadian music charts. "Cold Morning Light", "Sweeter Memories" and "Marlene" are the other somber, heart-achy ballads that'll possibly have you weeping a tear or two as soon as you've finished listening to them. The dialogue that takes place between certain tracks is quite innovative, yet unusual. Speaking of innovations, it's a shame TR's patented guitar voice box device (which has been used by the likes of Peter Frampton, among others) isn't featured here, for Todd most likely invented that sometime after "Something/Anything" was released. For those of you looking to discover the unique, highly intellectual sounds of Todd Rundgren for the very first time, but you're not sure where to begin, I would suggest starting with this double-CD masterpiece, since there's an entire potpourri of various musical styles featured here. That should give you all the information you need to know about the man known affectionately as Todd Rundgren, and his music. I would advise that you not wait too long in purchasing "Something/Anything", 'cause there's only so much physical material made available that's used to manufacture a CD. In other words, nothing in this world lasts forever, so make that all-important purchase today, before it's too late!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2012
Amazing albums but, don't be fooled into buying the same CD twice. They're not remastered, they're only reissues of the same old Rhino pressings on a new label. The bonus tracks tacked onto the end aren't remastered either. They're sourced from an old outtakes disc from 1998. There's absolutely no difference in sound quality. They're only worth the money if you don't already own a copy.