Utopia: Deface The Music (1980)

I know, we were just talking about a different Todd Rundgren project the other day, but I happened to take this one out for a spin this week, so here we are. Gotta say up front, I'm not a fan of Utopia, Rundgren's long-running side band, which saw him playing both prog (mid-70s) and somewhat generic hard rock and new wave-tinged pop (late 70s and 80s) -- like he alternately felt like sounding like Yes or Foreigner or Jefferson Starship. (Though they managed the occasional decent song, like classic rock staple "Set Me Free.")

But Deface The Music is an oddity in the Utopia catalog, a Beatles pastiche that kinda comes from out of nowhere, an unexpected homage of sorts. It sounds an awful lot like the Rutles album, taking stabs at the Beatles' sound from throughout their career (though primarily copping a mid-60s aesthetic from Help! through Revolver, and lacking the humor/absuridy of some of the Rutles tracks). Frankly, the Rutles (and, later, the Spongetones) did it better; but it's still a fun album. Obviously, given Rundgren's pop chops and production credibility, it's gonna sound pretty good, and it does. It's just... why?

Anyway, you've got the "She Loves You" dead ringer "I Just Want To Touch You"; the vaguely "Penny Lane"-indebted "Hoi Polloi" (sounding like an outtake from XTC side-project the Dukes of Stratosphear); and "Getting Better"/"Fixing A Hole"-ish "Feel Too Good," as fine a power pop song as Rundgren would ever devise -- and plenty of other songs that will have you checking your Beatles collection to figure out why the riffs sound so familiar. It's mostly pretty slavish and earnest sounding, though the psychedelic closing track "Everybody Else Is Wrong" sounds like a piss-take, so who knows?

Is it a... necessary record? Nah, probably not. But if you're in the mood for some non-Beatles Beatles songs, and you've worn out your Rutles and Spongetones, here you go.

Here they are going all in with the video for "Touch You":
...and an audio rip of "Feel Too Good":
Here's a live (without Rundgren) take on "Hoi Polloi":
...and here's Rundgren performing "Crystal Ball":