I can’t keep it bottled up inside

by John Holbo on December 2, 2006

iTunes coughed up a thing and I think to myself: what is this? Mötley Crüe? Turns out to be Soul Asylum. Which, back in 1993, still sounded to me like, you know, they were related to the Replacements or something. Alt-rock, y’know. Then next another thing I don’t immediately recognize and I’m thinking: this sounds like Wham! But it turned out to be Aztec Camera – “Everybody is Number One”, from their Love album. Which, back in 1987 sounded to me, like, I dunno, alt-rock.

And then Belle finally went and signed us up for the iTunes store and downloaded the greatest song ever, which we’ve been missing for 6 years in Singapore. And do you know what the greatest song in the world is: that’s right, it’s Todd Rundgren, “Couldn’t I just tell you”. Greatest. Power pop. Ever. Plus it has the cool/fool rhyme. You really can’t go wrong with that.

I’m lying. In between Soul Asylum and Aztec Camera iTunes coughed up an MP3 of this Delta ad in ebonics (don’t know how that got in there), which was disorienting.

There are some just terrible videos of Rundgren singing his greatest song on YouTube. Here, for instance. But there’s an absolutely fabulous video of him singing “Hello it’s me” on some variety show. He’s got butterfly wings glued to his eyebrows as he sits at the white piano. Elton John would blush. But “Hello it’s me” just isn’t that good, frankly.

There’s a neat Nazz video as well. “Open My Eyes”. Very “The President’s Analyst”. Did you know that the bass player for the Nazz, Carson Van Osten, gave up bass-playing to be a cartoonist for Disney? You can see some of his work here, at a blog I read not infrequently.

Speaking of butterfly wings … (Oh, I’ll try to get to that tomorrow.)



david 12.02.06 at 9:43 am

Since you’re asking for it:
The Records “Starry Eyes” is the greatest power pop ever.


Russell Arben Fox 12.02.06 at 10:27 am

And you know, I don’t think I’d ever heard “Couldn’t I Just Tell You” before. Sad. But I was never that much of a Rundgren fan. Except for his A Cappella album–I listened that cassette to death.


John Holbo 12.02.06 at 10:55 am

Russell, I don’t know whether that means you just watched the video, or you just ran out and bought the tune. If not the latter, then you owe it to yourself.


David 12.02.06 at 11:14 am

Thanks for the reminder — it’s good to hear “Hello it’s me ” from time to time. Did you know that Rundgren has a couple of sons who are pro baseball players?


dave heasman 12.02.06 at 12:29 pm

“And do you know what the greatest song in the world is: that’s right, it’s Todd Rundgren”

Todd post-Nazz stole his whole schtick from Laura Nyro. It took me 34 years to notice.


Brendan 12.02.06 at 12:31 pm

The Nazz practically invented power pop, years before even the Flamin’ Groovies. Like every good punk I couldn’t stand Todd Rungren (especially that ‘psychedelic’ a wizard a true star nonsense, and don’t even mention his prog rock meanderings) but all the Nazz albums became a staple in our little group of friends at college for some reasons. Years later I checked out ‘Something/Anything’ which despite some annoying jokey asides (indicative of the horrible shape of things to come) is still one of the best albums ever made. As I say, all the albums he made after that are awful, so far as I can tell.


slolernr 12.02.06 at 12:48 pm

A Cappella has terrific stuff on it, especially “Hodja” and “Mighty Love.”


diakron 12.02.06 at 1:36 pm

Power-pop-wise, lately I’ve been digging Sloan. “Underwhelmed” is a classic tune with great lyrics.

Check out Pandora if you haven’t already.


dave heasman 12.02.06 at 1:52 pm

S/A is pretty good but I reckon AWATS is up there with Countdown to Ecstacy for album of the 70s.
And the subsequent double, “Todd” has a couple of deliberate stadium anthems, pre-stadium anthems. Of course he only played stadiums as the warmup.

“If I thought I knew what was best for you, I would have gone and done it for myself”. Assumes quite a bit, don’t it?


peggy 12.02.06 at 4:49 pm

Forty years later and straight may lessen the effect.


Ellen 12.02.06 at 5:00 pm

For all you Todd fans take a look at citypaper.net
back issue june 8-14 2006 under the heading of
“Paper Trail” and you will see a picture of Todds
mom with a painting of Todd in the back ground..
They sure do look alike …….


Michael Dietz 12.02.06 at 7:20 pm

Sorry. Greatest power-pop song ever is, indisputably, Big Star’s “September Gurls.”


dave heasman 12.02.06 at 7:28 pm

“The Nazz practically invented power pop”

Lots of London bands in 65-6 were effectively power pop as they moved away from blues – the Pretty Things, Alan Bown, the Creation etc. The first example of power pop that occurs to me is the intro to Gerry & the Pacemakers’ “I Like It”. Not that it’s a good record, or song, but that intro is right in the pocket.


kid bitzer 12.02.06 at 9:03 pm

“But “Hello it’s me” just isn’t that good, frankly.”

gotta disagree. Not the greatest tune ever, maybe not a contestant for “greatest power pop ever”.

But a very solid, workmanlike pop tune, better than 90% of the material in the genre.

The video is great, too–thanks for that. I tried the 2″ gold appliquee-over-the-eyebrows look for a while, too (I mean, didn’t everybody?) but it just didn’t fit my overall style.


Matt Kuzma 12.03.06 at 4:57 am

I don’t really have much of an opinion regarding power pop, but I’m sorry to have to tell you that you’re wrong. The greatest song in the world is “Roads” by Portishead.


Cryptic Ned 12.03.06 at 3:44 pm

That may have once been the greatest power-pop song, but it has long since been eclipsed by the Posies’ “Flavor of the Month”.


eugene 12.03.06 at 10:32 pm

I’d reckon that “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones is the best pop-punk song of all times; I believe John Peel said it was his favorite song of all time.

hear for yourself..


vanya 12.04.06 at 4:29 pm

Actually the greatest power pop song is probably “All Going out together” by Big Dipper.


vanya 12.04.06 at 4:38 pm

I have a question – does iTunes provide a much broader range of Aztec Camera selections in Singapore? I’ve often looked for AC on iTunes, and as far as I can tell they only have one song available – “How Men are.”


belle waring 12.04.06 at 5:45 pm

No, the Aztec Camera was from our own collection. But the Rundgren we freshly bought. Sorry for confusion.


Spenc/r Ackerm/n 12.05.06 at 8:06 pm

Michael Dietz is correct, of course, about Big Star’s “September Gurls” being the best power-pop song of all time. But the Nazz is still fucking great.

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