Nazz – Nazz
Nazz completed two albums before frontman Todd Rundgren and co-founder Carson Van Osten left the band. Actually, they were in the process of leaving before the sophomore effort, Nazz Nazz, came out. They weren’t around to capitalize on the success of their lead single “Open My Eyes.” Rundgren proved he could write plenty of pop hooks – “See What You Can Be” and “When I Get My Plane” could be Beach Boys songs. But Rundgren always had a restlessness that led to experiments.
Sometimes they worked – “Wildwood Blues” and “Lemming Song” are solid blues shriekers. Other times they didn’t. “If That’s the Way You Feel” is the Beach Boys on acid. But Rundgren hit a lot more than he missed. And it’s fascinating to hear the best-known song on Nazz in an early, half-baked version. “Hello It’s Me” would become one of the Runt’s biggest solo hits in its sped-up poppier version. On Nazz, it is languid and borders on dreary. But it remains a great song waiting to be discovered.
Rundgren, who was elected into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2021, went on to have a fascinating, varied career as a performer (as a soloist and with his band Utopia), songwriter, and producer. A few years after Nazz broke up, he produced the seminal protopunk album New York Dolls and would go on to produce for acts as varied as Hall & Oates, Meat Loaf, and Bad Religion during his career.