Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Your Cover’s Blown: Todd Rundgren’s “I’m So Proud / Ooh, Baby Baby / La La Means I Love You / Cool Jerk”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on January 19, 2007

Your Cover’s Blown takes a look at versions of songs we know through remakes and originals that we might not–some successful, some atrocious, all fascinating.

Over the course of his career, Todd Rundgren was many, many things–garage rocker, prog enthusiast, singer/songwriter, producer (classic rock, techno and everything in between), tape experimentor, power popper, new waver, and countless others. But, like his Philadelphia brothers in arms Hall & Oates, at heart Rundgren was blue-eyed soul all the way through, and that core influence was always what made his wildly diverging musical styles work so succesfully.

So that’s why it’s jarring, but not completley shocking, to hear a medley of four classic soul covers in the middle of the bizarre half-songs and art rock experiments that make up most of Todd’s 1974 album A Wizard, A True Star. It doesn’t hurt that Todd chooses three of the best soul songs of the 60s to cover (and a fourth that’s no slouch)–The Impressions’ “I’m So Proud,” Smokey Robinson & the Miracles’ “Ooh Baby Baby,” The Delfonics’ “La La Means I Love You” and The Capitols’ “Cool Jerk.” But if ever there was a moment to fully prove Todd’s soul roots, this’d be it–not just in the songs he chooses, but how sensitively and gorgeously he handles them, like the pro that he is. Rundgren knows his vocal strengths, and he wisely stays away from the grittier soul of the 60s, instead opting for the lushness of some of the Miracles and the Impressions’ dreamier numbers (as well as the kings of lush, fellow Philly natives the Delfonics), and they fit his voice perfectly. Among these, Todd’s herky-jerky proto-new wave cover of “Cool Jerk” seems almost out of place, but it works as a less awkwardway to transition back into the art rock that closes the rest of the album.

One Response to “Your Cover’s Blown: Todd Rundgren’s “I’m So Proud / Ooh, Baby Baby / La La Means I Love You / Cool Jerk””

  1. Anton said

    I was recently watching (and admit that I watched on multiple occasions for extended periods of time) an infomercial for one of those TimeLife classic genre boxsets. This one was for Soft Rock, and it was hosted by Air Supply and an aged crone who was apparently a huge Air Supply groupy.

    Todd Rundgren was on it. his was one of the many songs that made me shamefully desirous of the boxset. Don’t remember which song it was. But, oh, they were all so good.

    [i]dreeeaam weaver, I believe you can get me through the ni-iiiiight[/i]

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