Search - Todd Rundgren :: Up Against It

Up Against It
Todd Rundgren
Up Against It
Genres: Rock, Classic Rock
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #1

Japanese edition of 1997 album, a score & libretto to JoeOrton's aborted screenplay for what would have been thethird Beatles film at the time. Comes in an oversizedstandard jewel case with separate English & Japanesebookl...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Todd Rundgren
Title: Up Against It
Members Wishing: 6
Total Copies: 0
Label: Pid
Release Date: 11/11/1997
Album Type: Import
Genres: Rock, Classic Rock
Styles: Progressive, Progressive Rock, Album-Oriented Rock (AOR)
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 766482937325


Album Description
Japanese edition of 1997 album, a score & libretto to JoeOrton's aborted screenplay for what would have been thethird Beatles film at the time. Comes in an oversizedstandard jewel case with separate English & Japanesebooklets. 15 tracks total, including 'When Worlds Collide','Free, Male & 21', 'The Smell Of Money' and 'If I Have To BeAlone'. A Pony Canyon release.

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CD Reviews

Todd as theatrical scorer - not to be missed!
Gareth Davies-Morris | 02/24/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Another fine example of the depth and breadth of Todd's music. The tunes are fantastic, the lyrics - whimsical. Sorry I missed this play when it was out, but this is a great second -- Loved it!"
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I 've just read the firt customer review and wanted to say I totally agree with his opinion.No doubt about it:UP AGAINST IT deserves a much better place than the one he's got in the opinion of real Toddheads (in fact I think many of them don't even really know the existence of this item in his discography).Still, it's Todd concentrating on melodies,vocal harmonies, drum machines and keyboards:we,Todd fans ,all know what it means!I only put 4 stars just because, the project being a musical for Broadway,his maverick musical spirit is nowhere to be seen here.But what gorgeous melodies!"
Todd's Lost Masterpiece
Gareth Davies-Morris | San Diego, CA USA | 09/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Given how few people have commented on this, I figure another opinion is needed, though I agree whole-heartedly with the other reviewers that this is a terrific "lost" Todd release that hardcore fans should know about. If you just like a few tunes or are new to Todd, then probably Rhino's quite decent Best Of is the place to start. But if you like Todd's more complex work (Initiation, RA, TR's Utopia, and especially the piece A Wizard A True Star), you'll find this work, recorded 86-88 but not released until 1997, a wonderful discovery.

As has been noted, this is Todd's score to the stage adaptation of playwright Joe Orton's Up Against It, the unfilmed screenplay originally mooted as the third Beatles film (after Hard Day's Night and Help). They declined it, so he reworked it to lessen their presence, successfully sold it to the producer Oscar Lewenstein, and then was violently done in by boyfriend Kenneth Halliwell in a notorious murder-suicide. With Orton no longer around to help push it along, development stalled and the script was never filmed. It was published in book form a couple of times, however, and in the 80s Joseph Papp decided to give the script a new lease on life as a piece of theater. Hence this score.

In the liner notes, Todd observes that he probably got the gig based on having created the various Beatles parodies on Deface The Music; whoever hired him must not have known about Todd's general disinterest in rock musicals or the overt contempt he had voiced for John Lennon during the former Beatle's infamous "lost weekend" (he wrote Rock'n'Roll Pussy about Lennon, evidently; you can find their exchange of words in Melody Maker at:

Certainly, anyone expecting Beatlemania wouldn't find it here; this is pure Todd, in the melodies, the arrangements, and above all the vocals. There are no Beatles similarities at all, really, except the deliberate echo of the Billy Shears theme at the start of From Hunger, which I'd guess was intended for the Ringo-style character. All quite fitting, given that the Beatles rejected the screenplay and Orton died thinking it wouldn't be a Beatles film anyway; what we get instead is effectively a new piece of theater scored with a great set of Todd songs. The story's dated but certainly reflects 60s concerns: gender roles, women's rights, sexual liberation, and revolution. In the plot, the battle of the sexes is taken into outright civil war, with the women winning and men losing all political rights. It's sort of like Norman Lear's All That Glitters encountering a bizarre gender twist on Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, but it's entertaining, no doubt, and I wish I'd seen it staged in its brief run.

The production sound is similar to Healing or Ever-Popular Tortured Artist Effect: rich synths, electric piano, and syndrums (in fact, you could almost say that you get an hour's worth of Shine or Hideaway here). It helps if you like musicals such as West Side Story or anything by Gilbert & Sullivan, or if you at least enjoy Todd's musical-hall songs like Emperor of the Highway or his cover of Lord Chancellor's Nightmare song. It's most definitely a musical, after all, with repeating themes and multiple vocal parts. But it's Todd, too, so it rocks, at least in places: ie, You'll Thank Me In The End, Lili's Address, & the title track. Sadly, there's no guitar, thus what you don't get are any of Todd's trademark soaring solos, which usually appear at least once on any of his albums. In terms of performance, the real strength here is Todd's vocals. He sings all of the parts -- yes, in character in several places, such as Lili's Address, When Worlds Collide, and the Finale. But that adds to the fun, I think, and makes this the closest thing to a cast album that we'll ever get.

Four tracks have appeared elsewhere, and one track dropped from the performance is reinstated -- thankfully, as it's one of the best here. Todd shrewdly reworked the Tony-nominated Parallel Lines on Nearly Human, but while that version was clearly geared for top-40 radio, the original is much slower and more pensive, but ever bit as enjoyable. Three other tracks, The Smell of Money, If I Have To Be Alone, & Love in Disguise, were rerecorded on Second Wind, and those performances are, I imagine, very similar to how the stage versions must have sounded. I like them a lot, but finally enjoy Todd's solo originals more. As for the dropped song, We Understand Each Other, its bluesy shuffle belies the highly complex counterpoint of the vocal lines, which were evidently just too hard for the actors to learn. Go figure, lazy bums; no wonder Todd's solo version is the only one we'll ever hear - or need to!

As for the packaging, this is a Japan-only release, and the extra-thick jewel case allows for two versions of the libretto, one in Japanese, one in English (in an odd two-piece fold-out). Todd provides brief but humorous liner notes, including comments about the lyrics and performances on certain tracks. My only complaint about this marvelous project is the artwork. We get nothing more than a frankly awful photo of Todd that looks like a colorized version of his back-cover shot on Oops Wrong Planet. I don't understand why Pony Canyon couldn't have used a promotional shot from the play or a page from its program, or even a photo of the marquee showing the play's title during its brief run. Someone must have had that memorabilia. Or even better, a still from the Orton biopic Prick Up Your Ears, a fine film with Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina that features a very brief recreation of the proposed last scene from Up Against It (Miss Drumgoole in bed with the Fab Four). Any of those would have nicely tied the play to Todd's score and shown us something a bit more appealing. Oh well, a minor gripe about a major work in the career of this ferociously talented artist. Again, if you like his progressive side in particular, you should discover this little-known gem.

A word on the price: some people are demanding ridiculous amounts of money for this disc. I got mine from an online auction site for $30 including shipping, which seems a perfectly reasonable price to pay (rather than five times that amount, as at least one person is asking). That should give shoppers something against which to gauge their prospective purchase. Nonetheless, if you can afford to, pay any amount - it's that good!