Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Adventures in Utopia
Genres: Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
Digitally remastered reissue of 1980 album by Todd Rundg ren's art/ prog/ power pop group. 10 tracks, including 'The Road To Utopia', 'Set Me Free', 'You Make Me Crazy' & 'The Very Last Time'. Also features the original ... more »
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Digitally remastered reissue of 1980 album by Todd Rundg ren's art/ prog/ power pop group. 10 tracks, including 'The Road To Utopia', 'Set Me Free', 'You Make Me Crazy' & 'The Very Last Time'. Also features the original cover art and liner notes with new interviews. 1999 release.
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Too bad they never did the TV show
Farffleblex Plaffington | Parnybarnel, Mississippi | 07/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the second more commercial, pop-oriented Utopia album, after 1977's Oops! Wrong Planet, but of course, Todd Rundgren has never been a stranger to pop music, despite progressive/art rock tendencies and excursions.
Track 1, "The Road to Utopia" 5/5
This flirtatiously begins as a progressive track for the first minute and a half before turning into a pretty straightforward, beautiful pop song. "Beautiful" is no surprise. For a long time, it seemed that prolifically writing beautiful, catchy pop songs came to Rundgren as easily as breathing. That Rundgren didn't have constant radio hits is one of music's great injustices. Or maybe not. He might not have as consistently produced interesting music in that case.
Track 2, "You Make Me Crazy" 5/5
This track is a very interesting combination of a 60s pop song and new wave. A Cars influence can be heard, which is ironic now, considering that Rundgren is currently in "The New Cars". Great singing from drummer "Willie" Wilcox and interesting bass playing from Kasim Sulton. Sulton's bass on the prechoruses (and the way that Rundgren changes chords on the verses) makes them sound far more outside than they really are, and of course the third verse is just wonderfully outside overall. I love the melody in the prechoruses and the chorus, and the interplay between Sultan and the "background vocals" on the chorus, which have a subtle, odd flanging effect on them.
Track 3, "Second Nature" 5/5
Except for the discofied drumbeat on the chorus, this could have easily fit on Rundgren's Something/Anything?, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's a leftover song from that period. In any event, a typically gorgeous melody/harmony on a catchy tune. A bit short, but there's nothing wrong with short pop tunes.
Track 4, "Set Me Free" 5/5
A song wholly written by Sulton. This has great, unusual verses, where the chords, dominated by Roger Powell's Rhodes keyboard, build and change without repeating. In fact, I'm not sure there's any guitar on this track at all. The chorus makes you want to get up and dance and sing along like you're in a gospel church. Smokin' but relatively simple sax solo--I love the ending.
Track 5, "Caravan" 5/5
And talk about simple but effective, that's what the guitar riff on this song is all about. There's one ringing kinda dissonant note (maybe just dissonant because of the flange effect on it) towards the end of the phrase that makes it even better. Rundgren repeats it as an ostinato under the smooth verses while chord changes on top of it wax and wane the tension (especially with respect to that one note)--that's one of my favorite compositional devices. The choruses have a strangely attractive cheesiness to them. The bridge, which ends up being constructed like a concise, traditional jazz improv (and this is recurs in the outtro), is surprisingly heavy. I love the keyboard solo with the heavy effects. Rundgren does some killer guitar work on the outtro.
Track 6, "Last of the New Wave Riders" 5/5
The heaviness continues. But the song becomes almost a spoof (as we might have guessed from the title) when the vocals enter; it's very funny. Kinda Queen-ish. Still, this song isn't just a spoof. There's a great melody in the chorus and there are some unusual things going on structurally in the verses. The bridge is very much progressive hard rock, often retaining the Queen references. The overblown ending is very funny, too.
Track 7, "Shot in the Dark" 5/5
And then Utopia makes a Queen-ish left turn, first suggesting a Professor Longhair-like sauntering blues in the intro, played by Powell on the piano. But suddenly, things get new wavy again. The verses are orchestrated in a way that suggests alien reggae. Melodically and harmonically this is much more a traditional rock tune, but the orchestration and production make it much more.
Track 8, "The Very Last Time" 5/5
The vocals are oddly mixed a bit back on this track, but it's a great song. Pretty straightforward for Utopia. Beautiful choruses again.
Track 9, "Love Alone" 5/5
This has a really soulful chord progression, played beautifully by Powell, who is the only instrumentalist on this track, with great singing again from Sulton and the rest of the band on Queen-like background vocals. This would have been a great closer, but the album unexpectedly goes to--
Track 10, "Rock Love" 5/5
A disco party! This is another very tongue-in-cheek song, but very good and catchy. Very funny lyrics. Sulton really cooks on bass throughout, especially on the chorus. I love the chord progression and harmonies on the prechoruses. The end of the bridge/solo segueing to the prechorus is odd and genius. Don't miss the over-the-top scream from Rundgren near the beginning of the outtro."