Listen To Donald Fagen And Todd Rundgren Team Up On “Tin Foil Hat”

A collaboration between Todd Rundgren and Donald Fagen surely ought to summon the curiosity of any Rock fan. Here are two of the best songwriters of the Rock era, and two of the greatest sonic architects ever to grace a recording studio. Before even hearing it, one could imagine a place where their musical visions and styles intersect. And as it turns out, the real thing sounds just as groovy and smooth as you might have imagined.

You can never be sure with Todd Rundgren, though. While Fagen’s sound is long-established and sparingly shared with the public, Rundgren has always been all over the map and prolific as hell. He’s released 11 albums in the 21st century alone. These albums have variously explored, among other things, electronic dance music, ambient music, acoustic Robert Johnson blues, arena rock, and quirky obscure covers.

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That eclecticism is on full display on White Knight, released a few weeks ago. In addition to Donald Fagen, Rundgren collaborates with a bunch of diverse artists including Trent Reznor, Joe Walsh, pop sensation Robyn, Joe Satriani, Daryl Hall, rapper Dam-Funk and R&B legend Bettye Lavette. And while the album’s sonic range is a bit limited by Rundgren’s low-tech D.I.Y. production philosophy, there are some great moments on it.

Like this track, “Tin Foil Hat”, the video for which was just released this week. It is so great to hear Donald Fagen’s voice again, for the first time since his fine 2012 album Sunken Condos. Rundgren’s always been a wizard at crafting vocal beds, and his harmonies sound beautiful underneath. It’s a catchy Steely Dan-esque shuffle featuring a fabulous bass line and some great piano bits near the end.

It’s also a highly political song, which will either please or alienate listeners depending on what side of reality they’re on. To be honest, in light of the fact there is so much powerful protest music out there this year, I found the lyrics a little too ordinary and superficial. I might have expected a more cryptic, higher-end screed from Donald Fagen, although I will say “He puts the Pluto in plutocrat” is a hella good line.

Nevertheless, it’s fantastic to hear these two greats write and record together, one more collaboration we can cross off Rock’s cosmic bucket list.


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