The Initiation Into The World Of A Very Creative Mind
Andre S. Grindle | Brewer Maine | 03/21/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After the somewhat scattered sound of the 1974 album Todd this album was not only a huge creative return but a more focused one. During this period Rundgren's productions became much brighter and ahead of their time. "Real Man" is a great example-musically it's an extension of Todd's melodic rock/soul combination but the sound wise it sounds more like a re-recording from a decade or so later-it isn't and that's the beauty of it. "Born To Synthesize" also looks to ten a decade into Todd's musical future as it merely presents Todd's voice as the instrument,sometimes wonderful lead vocals and othertimes abstract and sometimes hammy harmony parts. Musically these two songs begin an exploration of the albums overall theme of spirtituality. Rundgren is a man of very clear headed ideas but at the same time he expressess so many of them at the same time that is gives off the appearance of being overwelming.Actually,it isn't. The general theme of the this album seems to be philosophically close to unitarianism and/or the idea of the "one world under many gods" kind of concepts.Considering all of the people turning to Hari Krishna,EST,Moonies and one guru to another throughout the 70's for some sort of insight to life Rundgren was apparently taking it upon himself to try and make some sense of it for people and come to a desicive answer rather than indulge himself in,say one of his own spiritual journey's. The song on this album that explores this idea most is the title song,a very keyboard led jazz-funk-rock-pop type tune featuring a great David Sanborn sax solo. "The Death Of Rock N Roll" is the one hard rock song on the album and the one tune that closley resembles the rockier previous album. "Eastern Intrigue" is another very spiritually inclined song,whose lyrics pretty much follow the lead of it's title and is a potent combination of progressive jazz with a sort of Asian type melody. "Fair Warning" is a great slow fusion style number featuring members of The Edgar Winter Group;Winter's sax solo's throughout are worth it by themselves. The 34 minute "A Treatise On Cosmic Fire" has some of the flavors of the first couple of Utopia albums but are not exactly the same. The suite starts and concludes on this keyboard-led funk-jazz note sandwiching a lot of synthesizer......noodling in the middle. I don't enjoy using that term especially when applied to someone as talented as Rundgren but this was a guy who was able to take any kind of sound and make it sound musical. A lot of times here it just doesn't go anywhere. But it terms of using sound to engender different emotions it's enough to qualify this album as a five star album. For the most part this is one of Rundgren's most focused releases,speaking for the first six songs and presents him as a creative and very soulful artist of a very high caliber."
A few classic tracks, however....
Thomas Gabuzda | Montco PA, usa | 08/13/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There are several tracks from this release that must be considered essential for Rundgren fans. In my opinion these are "Fair Warning" which is a yearning ballad; "Initiation" which is a danceable extravaganza... almost a show tune complete with the classic flanged alto solo by Sanborn; and "Real Man" which though I personally have no use for it is still a classic vamp. Other frankly more knowledgeable fans (than I) may favor other tracks, but I feel these are the classics here. I also have little use for the highly derivative 36 minute tune because though it has merit, I have much more refined and creative music of the genre in my collection. Another factor is that this is very poorly transferred to digital and --if anything-- is likely to sound worse than decent vinyl. This is a shame since the overall quality of music deserves better treatment (perhaps there is a better transfer available?)."