Halfnelson Sparks Biography - Todd Rundgren

Todd Rundgren - Halfnelson Sparks Biography
Todd Rundgren
producer of :
Todd Rundgren produced Sparks on Bearsville Records.
Ron Mael's Photographs and design - Ballad Of Todd Rundgren

Todd Rundgren (producer). After the recording of Halfnelson's demo Lp Earle Mankey got out his tape recorder, and in his living room, Ron Mael, Russell Mael and him recorded four new songs : "Wonder Girl", "Fa La Fa Lee", "SlowBoat" and "High C". This new tape was sent to Todd Rundgren (ex-Nazz) when he was still Runt. Todd Rundgren, Thaddeus James Lowe and Miss Christine went to see Halfnelson practice out in "The Doggie Bed Factory". Rumour is Todd Rundgren produced Halfnelson 'cause his girl friend, Miss Christine (ex-GTO's), liked the band. - read more...
Todd Rundgren the ace producer at Bearsville Records and hot from making his own albums of eccentric, eclectic pop, was immediately drawn to Halfnelson's wayward approach to song construction and odd Europhile appearance and Rundgren rescued Halfnelson by getting a contract for Albert Grossman's Bearsville label and producing their self-titled 1971 debut. - read more...

Todd Rundgren was a producer who had a reputation for imposing his own sound/aesthetic on the musicians with whom he worked, but ,basically, that first album is exactly like the demos Halfnelson made, even though the sound quality was enhanced. The producer let the band do what it want and didn't tamper with things the way record companies do now.
Todd Rundgren liked the material enough to sit back and encourage Ron Mael, Russell Mael, Earle Mankey, Jim Mankey & Harley Feinstein to do their own thing. Nevertheless lots of harmonies Todd Rundgren opted for were rejected by the band with cries of "slick ballads!". Todd Rundgren thought the band to be the weirdest bunch of people he'd never met but thought Sparks was a funny band too... Todd Rundgren had a really casual manner about him. When Todd Rundgren was enjoying what the band was doing he'd walk around the studio with a drumstick up each nostril...

But in retrospect Sparks was not all that happy with his production and one year later Ron Mael said to Constant Meijers from Aloha Magazine (Netherlands) : "Todd Rundgren is extremely nice, but if you had to work with him, you wouldn't have much space for your own ideas. We did not feel his way of producing was suitable for our music. However, he could not be convinced otherwise. We started to behave a bit nasty and aggressive towards him and finally he didn't turn up anymore."

The first Todd Rundgren album to appear on Bearsville was Runt's final record, "The Ballad of Todd Rundgren" (June 1971). Album tracks were recorded at ID Sound Studios, Los Angeles, and the album was engineered by Thaddeus James Lowe. The "The Ballad of Todd Rundgren" cover design was by Milton Glaser, but twelve photographs and inside design were by Ronald Mael.
After the release of the Sparks self-titled Lp Todd Rundgren was doing some other project and couldn't produce the second album so Sparks asked Thaddeus James Lowe if he would be interested.
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