Hot off the heels of their success with Adventures in Utopia, Todd Rundgren steers this ship 90 degrees right into the heart of lamestream Beatlemania by delivering what I think is probably the best parody of the Fab Four ever created.
parody noun \ˈper-ə-dē, ˈpa-rə-\ a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule
The difference here is that Rundgren did not create this work to capitalize on (remember the Rutles, or that horrible butchery of Sgt. Pepper by the Bee Gees?), or in contempt of the Lads, but rather as homage to the band that led the British Invasion 20 years earlier, and shaped the coarse of rock music throughout the 1960’s and into the 70’s.
Utopia’s Deface the Music touches on nearly every phase of the Beatles career from the early singles fresh out of Liverpool “I Just Want to Touch You” à la (I Want to Hold your Hand) to the psychedelic “Penny Lane” or (Hoi Poloi). Each song and musical style can be attributed to a specific period within the Beatles development. John Lennon once said,
“You can be bigheaded, and say, Yeah, we’re going to last 10 years. But as soon as you’ve said that, you think, You know, we’re lucky if we last three months.”
I don’t think Deface the Music is bigheaded and its not “Strawberry Fields Forever” (Everybody Else is Wrong). It is what it is. A salutation. At 33 minutes, you just get started and before you know it, the records over. The only irony here is that it was released in October 1980, just one month before Lennon was shot dead outside his New York apartment.
I bought this album when it first came out, and every time I listen to it I pick up on something new, another detail or association back to the Fab Four that I didn’t hear before. Rundgren is a meticulous craftsman, and this album is spot-on.