Thursday, July 21, 2016


There aren’t a lot of recording artists that also design their own album covers, as Todd Rundgren did for this 1989 LP, but Todd’s multitude of interests go far beyond the reach of just music. He's long been a technology trailblazer, not only in electronic music and prog rock, but in music video production, computer software, and internet music delivery.

Looking solely at Todd's music side, his achievements have been stellar, varied and numerous. He's often made the creation and production of hit records look easy --  for himself, and for other artists whose careers he has often resuscitated as a producer.

And given that sometimes he's even played all of the instruments on his recordings, it’s really not a surprising leap to create your own dazzling, abstract impressionistic album cover.

The cover of “Nearly Human” found Todd squarely in front of the artistic curve. In search of something out of the ordinary, Todd conceived and created the electronically imaged cover at the famed Pixar studios long before it was “famed.” In fact, it was two years after Todd's "Nearly Human" project that Disney and Pixar announced they would make and distribute movies, and it would be another four years before PIxar would become a household name via the smash hit "Toy Story."

But the story behind this classic album cover also has an intriguing "sub-plot" associated with it, which might be referred to as “the case of the missing finger.”

The Japan Cover --minus one finger
In Japan, where Rundgren enjoyed huge popularity, the album cover was altered to show a hand with five fingers—instead of the six fingers depicted on the U.S. version.

Todd's original six-finger cover triggered fears that some Japanese Buddhists would find it sacrilegious, since the supreme Buddha’s characteristic hand gesture also includes six fingers, each representing revered earthly and spiritual elements. 

As a serious admirer of Todd Rundgren, I've sometimes considered him a bit “God-like,” but the folks in Japan made sure no one would go anywhere near that thought.

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