November 04, 1985 12:00 PM

Todd Rundgren

Rundgren has proved there is a place for a gambler in the world of rock. From his early days with Nazz, up to his work with Utopia, and throughout his solo career, he has dared to be different, with results that vary from the sublime to the ridiculous. A Cappella is one of his best and boldest albums. Take the title literally: The only instrumentation is Todd’s voice, filtered through a device called the Emulator to simulate bass, keyboards and other effects. As a technical feat, the textured sound is a tour de force, but the diversity of style is also stunning. The pure pop of Something To Fall Back On is the only typical Rundgren. Johnee Jingo is a powerful folk dirge, along the lines of Tom Dooley. Hodja is whirling-dervish gospel, complete with some nasty scat. Many of the songs have an over-dubbed wall of harmonies that combine the precision of a hip barbershop quartet with the ornate detail of Gregorian chants, and live to tell about it. A nervy experiment, this album pays off handsomely. (Warner Bros.)

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