Rhinofy-Palookaville Primer

You’re not gonna listen to this record. But it’s the best Todd Rundgren album you’ve never heard.

That’s the scourge of the Internet, of the modern era, we’ve got so much information at our fingertips that we don’t bother to partake, hell, some people forward links without listening or reading what they’re sending on!

So I’m wary you won’t listen to “Palookaville.” But I love it. And if you remember Todd’s run, from that initial LP all the way through let’s say “Todd,” when “Palookaville” plays you’ll smile.

Not that it’s imitative. It’s just that it’s a blend of pop and rock and hooks that seem to be dripping off Burtnik’s fingers.

Yes, Glen Burtnik. Who was in “Beatlemania” with Marshall Crenshaw and put out a couple of solo albums on A&M and ultimately joined Styx and a reunited ELO, writing a few hits that keep his bank account flowing along the way, like Patty Smyth and Don Henley’s “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough.”

You see I got a call to go to dinner with him, and Dave Frey and Jim Lewi, who’d just formed a new record company with Hollywood Records, the Disney entity. Jim sent the CD, to listen to before eating.

And I didn’t bother to play it until I got in the car to drive across town. And from the initial notes I was enthralled. And this is so rare, everything everybody gives you is junk and you get so disillusioned and you’ve got to hold your tongue and…

I couldn’t stop telling Glen how much I liked it.

But Dave and Jim didn’t pick it up. It sank like a stone. Burtnik changed directions, he stopped releasing music. And…

I wonder if that’s the life experience for most of us. We dig down deep, burrow in our hole, and deliver what thrills us and we believe is our best work and then the reaction is…nothing.

It’s hard to keep soldiering on. But the truth is if you’re good, you’ve got fans who believe. It may not be enough, but just because you don’t break through that does not mean you should change direction. Oftentimes it takes a while for the marketplace to catch up with you.


It starts off with nonsense and then becomes so hooky in fifteen seconds you immediately start to smile.

I wish everybody spamming me with YouTube clips and social media metrics would listen to this first. Burtnik may not sound like Steve Perry, but he can most certainly sing, but even more he can write, and play! The changes, the lyrics…and this is not even the best thing on the album!

But it starts off the experience with sunniness, it’s like someone opening a door, and you want to go inside.


This ended up being covered by country artists twice, Mark Collie and Randy Travis, the latter had a number two hit with it.

That’s the power of a song, it can work in multiple genres.

“Spirit of a Boy, Wisdom of a Man,” sounds nothing like country in this iteration, it’s quiet like something off the initial McCartney solo album, and it’s got an exquisite break, it’s damn good.


A rocker. One of Burtnik’s favorites, what he saw as a single. Reminds me of nothing so much as the full out numbers on Rundgren’s 1974 double LP “Todd.” It’s the counterbalance to the intimacy of “Spirit of a Boy, Wisdom of a Man.” Used to be acts didn’t live solely in narrow categories, they could jump around the spectrum.


One of my favorites on “Palookaville.” It’s so honest, so sincere, it’s what had us transfixed in front of our record players. You could sing along, but even more you wanted to jump inside the speaker and hang with the singer, you felt he understood you.


A White Album moment. Yup, Burtnik’s cast aside the electric axe and has sat down on his stool and is picking his acoustic and singing a heartfelt missive from deep on the inside. Back before the days of bad voice shoegazers white suburban boys loved this sound, they could own their wimpy, intimate side. As did girls. How could something this good go by unnoticed?


Listen to that guitar sound!

Talk about being energized. This track will have you jumping from your seat eager to enter the action, it’s inspiring, not only in message, but song. Some tracks are just a beat ahead of you, you want to chase them and hang on, to get where they’re going.


Only 33 seconds long, “Palookaville” is filled with this interstitial material. But unlike the brief numbers that come before, “Entrance to the Club” does not stand alone, it’s of a piece, the introduction to the album’s piece-de-resistance, “The Liars Club.”


A tour-de-force. Akin to Todd’s “Just One Victory” at the end of “A Wizard/A True Star.”

It’s got movements and breaks, it’s a roller coaster that’s thrilling but not scary. You’ll listen to this number and it will become your new favorite, you’ll spin it a few times and then tell your best friends about it, you won’t be able to help yourself.

Back when pop did not mean dumb, when rock could be catchy, when the best music was anthemic without being lowest common denominator.

And the women are beautiful
With hearts of pure gold
Their bodies are perfect
And the men are made of steel
The fixtures are shiny, groomed and manicured
And everybody comes to say exactly how they feel

If only it were that way. But the sadness of true life is nowhere in the tone of this track. It’s almost difficult to comprehend the underlying message…if there’s music this irresistible in the world, there is only truth.

Meet me tonight at the liars club
A room full of kindness, more than enough
Everyone’s faithful, everyone’s loved
Meet me tonight at the liars club

Don’t worry about putting on your look, just get in your car and go. Come and join me. Where music changes not only your mood, but your life. Where artists heard the Beatles and couldn’t help but play and tell their stories, when genres were made to be crossed, when rules were made to be broken, when if you could write, play and sing, you were entitled to our attention.

I rarely hear from Burtnik anymore. I just saw online he’s going out with ELO II. I’ve got no idea if he’s financially struggling or smiling all the while.

All I do know is it’s records like this that are the bedrock of my life. That make me feel like life is worth living.

And there’s a good chance you’ll feel that way too, so LISTEN!

Rhinofy-Palookaville Primer

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