Various Artists - Someone/Anyone? A 50th Anniversary Tribute to Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything?
Sprawling. Self-indulgent. Masterful. Todd Rundgren's 1972 double album, Something/Anything?, is all this and more. With the album celebrating its 50th anniversary, LA-area musician/producer/bon vivant Fernando Perdomo has assembled a (mostly) stellar cast of artists to pay tribute to Rundgren's slightly off-kilter musical genius.
Like most tribute records—particularly ones of this length (32 tracks)—there are highs and not-so-highs, but the good far outweighs the not-so-good here. There are some well-known artists who appear: Marshall Crenshaw and Louise Goffin each cover a Rundgren power pop classic to good effect, and drummers Stan Lynch (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers), Dennis Diken (Smithereens) and Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge) contribute to other tracks.
There are also a few musicians present who have worked with Rundgren, including his Utopia mate Kasim Sulton (who offers up a wonderful version of "The Night the Carousel Burned Down") and Brent Bourgeois, late of the '80s band Bourgeois Tagg, whose take of "Hello It's Me" is beautifully faithful without being a carbon copy. (Rundgren produced Bourgeois Tagg's 1987 LP Yoyo; the band's guitarist, Lyle Workman, also appears on Someone/Anyone? with Dave Schulz on the soulfully rockin' "Some Folks is Even Whiter Than Me.")
Elsewhere, there are several fine contributions from indie-popsters; the highlights there include Probyn Gregory's sweet, slightly spacy "Cold Morning Light"; Astral Drive's breathlessly beautiful reading of "Marlene"; and Creamer's pretty, low-key "One More Day (No Word)." One of Someone/Anyone's other peaks is a collaboration between Rob Bonfiglio, Stan Lynch, Stephen Dees and Durga McBroom on "Black Maria" - it's a real tour-de-force, with the lead and background vocals meshing perfectly and providing the tune with a "Gimme Shelter" type of vibe.
Other artists who hit the mark include Van Duren ("Torch Song"), Adrian Bourgeois (on a dizzying, inventive "Saving Grace," listed as one of the "bonus tracks"), Victor Wainwright and the Wildroots (who inject some swing into their reading of "Saving Grace"), and Bonfiglio's pitch-perfect solo version of "Marlene" (another bonus track). Special surprise: the lead vocalist on the Intoxicats' torchy "You Left Me Sore" is Mrs. Todd Rundgren (aka Michele).
While there are a handful of missteps and try-too-hards, Fernando Perdomo (who also plays on and produces a number of the tracks) has certainly done the legacy of Something/Anything? proud on Someone/Anyone? (Available on CD and digital via Bandcamp: https://toddtribute.bandcamp.com/releases) Grade: B+