Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Nazz mixed up a syrupy psychedelic stew of styles with the grungy glam glimmers of their power pop premiere.  Todd Rundgren formed the group in Philadelphia with  Carson Van Osten on bass guitar, Thom Mooney  on drums, and Robert "Stewkey" Antoni on vocals and keyboards:   "When I got out of high school, I joined a local blues band in Philadelphia—Woody’s Truck Stop. After about eight months or so, the rest of the guys in the band all discovered the Grateful Dead and the whole West Coast acid-music thing and decided that they, instead of playing blues, wanted to go to the country and get their heads together, if you know what I mean.    So they all left Philadelphia and went out to some farmhouse somewhere and started doing drugs non-stop and writing music. And at the time, I was not into such pursuits. I was still pretty much interested in the broader music scene, I guess, and decided that I would try to put a band together out of local musicians, people in other bands, essentially a Philadelphia super-group, as it were.    First, I got my roommate, Carson van Osten, who was the bassist in Woody’s Truck Stop. He became the bass player, and then we looked for a couple of other guys. A drummer, of course, and we found Thom Mooney in a band called The Munchkins. And Stewkey (Antoni) was playing with another band. I can’t remember the name of them. But, essentially, we asked them all if they’d like to start a new group, and since Woody’s Truck Stop had been kind of the most popular band in downtown Philadelphia at the time, it was pretty easy to convince everyone to stop what they were doing and start a new group with us that was musically based on a combination of The Who and The Beatles and The Yardbirds, mostly English bands that were influential. Particularly on me, since I wound up doing most of the writing.  But we were all into these English bands, and also there was a little bit of Beach Boys mixed in there as well, in terms of the harmonies. And that was probably something we had in common with The Who, because The Who were big Beach Boys fans as well...There was certainly a riff aspect to ['Open My Eyes']. There was a calculation behind the whole thing, to try and, within one song, introduce all of the stylistic elements that we were aiming for. So it had the big kind of Beach Boys vocals—at some point, we were hitting four-part harmonies, which was even beyond The Beatles at the time—and at the same time, there was a very aggressive kind of guitar figure going on, all of it with a general sort of pop structure. And in addition to that, the production gimmick of having the flanging going on during the choruses—yeah, it was definitely some sort of master plan there.   So it was hugely disappointing when the single came out and they flipped it over and played Nazz’s version of 'Hello It’s Me' instead." 

'Nazz' peaked at number one hundred and eighteen in the US, with the single 'Hello, It's Me' going to number sixty-six in the US and forty-one in Canada.  It would become Rundgren's biggest hit when he re-recorded it for his 'Something/Anything?' album in 1972.  Rundgren considers:    "When I started the Nazz, I had this thing about being eclectic. Like the Beatles had no style other than being the Beatles. So the Nazz used to do, like heavy rock, and also these light, pretty ballads with complex ballads.  And at the time that was something that people just didn't do. You were supposed to have an easily associable style. And that's always been part of my problem. I've always had this incongruity of style and influence.  A lot of people still find it remarkable that I have a penchant for the conventional and pretty and the weird and abstract. That's because I don't make divisions in terms of music. I never have.  If I hear something I like, that's it. It's mine. The thing about music is that if you're a good listener you can go window-shopping and own everything you see."

"Open My Eyes"


full album:

All songs written by Todd Rundgren, except where noted.

Side one
"Open My Eyes" – 2:48
"Back of Your Mind" – 3:48
"See What You Can Be" – 3:00
"Hello It's Me" – 3:57
"Wildwood Blues" (Rundgren, Thom Mooney, Robert "Stewkey" Antoni, Carson Van Osten) – 4:39
Side two
"If That's the Way You Feel" – 4:49
"When I Get My Plane" – 3:08
"Lemming Song" – 4:26
"Crowded" (Mooney, Stewkey) – 2:20
"She's Goin' Down" – 4:58

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