Video Savant: Todd Rundgren's “International Feel”

The lead-off track from his 1973 solo LP A Wizard, A True Star, “International Feel” is my favorite Todd Rundgren solo work. It's a concise demonstration of the era's state-of-the-art psychedelia (Todd was always ahead of the curve with regard to recording technology/gadgetry).

“International Feel” is a rococo glam ballad that eventually blasts off into outer space in a vaportrail of weirdly modulated vocals, phased guitars, filtered drums and glittery space dust. (Rundgren applies a subtle electronic shimmer/stutter to his vocals that sounds absolutely wicked on acid.) But the opening 25 seconds of analog-synth borborygmus (or is it guitar-generated?) still sound like something Stanley Kubrick could've used for a sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Talk about a spine-tingling intro...

As the song proper starts to rev up, it becomes apparent that all of Todd's instruments, the studio mixing board and likely the man himself are slathered in potent hallucinogens. Everything sounds synthetic and hyper-real and larger than life. The tune tilts toward the sentimental, but that flaw is more than compensated for by the studio wizardry Rundgren wields as if he were some mad combo of George Martin, Jeff Lynne and Phil Spector—in the fifth dimension. The song's last 30 seconds propel you into a dilatory miasma of whirling sound dust that may be rock's closest approximation of what an astronaut hears as she rockets off this planet. Escapism rarely gets more awesome than this.

The YouTuber who posted this video deserves a lifetime supply of Owsley for his efforts. Below, peruse the lyrics for “International Feel,” which augment the music with just the right amount of vague cosmic ache.

Here we are again, the start of the end, But theres more I only want to see if youll give up on me But theres always more There is more, international feel And theres more, interplanetary deals But theres more, interstellar appeal Still theres more, universal ideal Still theres more, international feel I swear something lies In your ears and your eyes cause theres more You hear and you see yet you do not believe That theres always more (I know)

Todd Rundgren performs at the Coach House in San Clemente, July 3, 6 p.m., $32.50.


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