Laura, I saw you open in LA … (Todd Rundgren & Runt, 1971)

Forgive me for going off on another Laura Nyro digression.

This post is about singer-songwriter-musician-producer-computer-software-developer Todd Rundgren, who once said his way of songwriting changed when he was introduced to Laura Nyro’s music.

In 1968, while playing in the Philadelphia garage rock band Nazz, Rundgren heard Nyro’s Eli and the Thirteenth Confession and requested a meeting with her. Her sophisticated R&B songwriting, influenced by classical music, Broadway show tunes, jazz and folk, can be heard on subsequent Nazz recordings, where Rundgren added horn and string arrangements to the band’s music (less Who-tinged than the Nazz’s first “hit” penned by Rundgren, “Open My Eyes”).

After leaving Nazz in ’69, Rundgren formed a trio called Runt with Hunt Sales on drums and Tony Sales on bass (the sons of comedian Soupy Sales).

On Jan. 16, 1971, the band’s debut album, Runt, sat on the Billboard Top LP’s chart at #193, exactly where it had entered the previous week. Runt would peak at #185 and then fall off the charts.

Although originally listed as a band effort, this was Todd Rundgren’s first solo album. In addition to conventionally-structured songs, Rundgren explored aural recordings of just his vocals, layered into harmonies—part Beach Boys, part Gregorian (“There Are No Words”)—and explored string arrangements (“Birthday Carol”).

Several songs on the LP show Laura Nyro’s influence on Rundgren’s music, but one specific track, “Baby Let’s Swing/The Last Thing You Said/Don’t Tie My Hands,” actually references her by name in the opening lyrics.

There Are No Words

Birthday Carol

About poppaculture

I am a seasoned consumer of modern (and not so modern) culture.
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