The two hundred and fifty-fourth album: #254 Todd Rundgren - Something/Anything
As I said, we're in the age of the double albums, but I don't think I've heard anyone embrace the advantages of having four sides to work with this much. Each of them has a distinct identity and if you start with the first you'd be deceived into thinking it's just pop, a polished sound that draws from both rock and r&b traditions to create a set of easy to listen to songs. The introduction to the second side - slightly tongue in cheek describing studio recording sounds - becomes more avant garde, with some more intellectual songs and different takes on the music. It's quite a twist and it primes you for these changes moving from a Phil Spector sound to something that would fit with Paul Simon or Bob Dylan's work with a hint of psychedelia.
The third side then takes it into a harder rock with heavier lyrics, something not best suited to Todd Rundgren's voice but sounded quite distinct on its own. It's the fourth that's the odd standout, a pop operetta that's the only side with tracks not written by Rundgren and with performances from other musicians. It starts off with a loose overture that leads into a tighter performance of Dust in the Wind. On the whole, though, this shared performance feels looser, with some of the live performance left in. It's a nice set of songs, not as clearly connected but creating a nice love story through line. It's probably the closest to a set of r&b and pop tracks on the album, which works well enough here, while giving the feeling that recording sessions were a lot of fun as well.
In the end, there are four sides to this album, and I feel they all work for different reasons. The second side probably connected best with me, but it's worth going on the full adventure.