GLAM ROCK I: TODD RUNDGREN
Todd Rundgren’s glitter phase was not about the gender indeterminacy, real or feigned, one came to expect of Glam Rock (Rundgren’s machismo was certified platinum when he won the hand of Bebe Buell, rock music’s Helen of Troy). The hair colors, facial glitter, jewelry and warrior-sprite-prom queen costumes were the trappings of a wizard, a pharaoh and a god, which is what the fans started calling Rundgren, who happily assumed those mantels.
The wizard practiced his craft at a studio Albert Grossman built for Rundgren at his Bearsville Records outpost in Woodstock. As it turns out, Rundren’s elaborate, challenging, meticulously-crafted, occasionally self-indulgent on-stage wardrobe from the period of A Wizard, A True Star through Ra (1973-77), was not just dressing up for fans—it was am emblem of his approach to music making and production, epitomized by the first Utopia albums. This description of the studio is from a 1973 interview with Rundgren:
At the studio, construction on the Utopia Landing Module, a geodesic dome to be covered completely in silver mylar, is underway. All of Jean-Yves’ synthesizers will be contained within the module, as will Jean Yves himself, while Hunt will play atop the dome several feet above the other Utopians, supremely skunkie. Each of the Utopians instruments will plug into the module and headsets will keep them in communication with Jean-Yves. A large art deco Theremin will hang behind the band, which they can play at will by intercepting the space between its two globes. Todd will play a double-neck Flying W lead guitar, with six- and twelve-string necks, while Tony’s guitar is unique in having six-string guitar and four-string bass. The Electronic Music Studio, an English synthesizer manufacturer and designer, has devised a new “sound” for Todd’s guitar, the “Popeye Mutilator”. Like fuzz tone or wah-wah it is completely at its master’s control, one more step toward the guitar’s evolution as the most useful sexual tool since KY jelly.
— from Ron Ross, ”The Inauguration of Todd Rundgren” Phonograph Record, March 1973.