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Utopia - Swing To The Right CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

2.12 | 36 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
1 stars You can't blame the president this time!

"Swing to the right" represented the end of Todd Rundgren and Utopia's long association with Bearsville Records. The band were becoming increasingly disillusioned with Bearsville's apathy towards them, and the consequent lack of promotion of their releases. It is perhaps appropriate that their final album for the label should be filled with bitterness and anger. In fact though, the vitriol is not (overtly at least) directed at the record company, but at the politics of the then US president Ronald Regan. Regan had only recently taken up his presidency, so the songs here reflect the fears of the moderate centre about the direction their country might be heading in.

As had become the norm for Utopia, the album is made up entirely of short pop based songs. Unfortunately, they are generally lacking in strength of melody or performance, rendering the album mediocre at best.

Things start off fairly brightly with the title track, which does indeed gently swing. The song has a 10CC like sophisticated pop feel, and a decent hook. Things immediately begin to slide after that though, "Lysistrata" ("I won't go to war no more") being a cod 60's plea for peace, and Kasim Sultan's "The up" proposing eternal optimism in the face of the daily challenges of depressing news, all to a lightweight pop tune. If that was not bad enough, side one finishes with a couple of real misfires. "Junk rock" is a shambles of off key vocals and computer voices, and "Shinola" sounds like it was thrown together in 10 minutes.

Side two opens with a cover version of the O'Jays song "For the love of money", perhaps indicating even more clearly that the tank was empty. At times, the original song is hard to pick out in a cacophony of backward recordings and discordant rambling. Roger Powell's contribution is no better, his "Last dollar on earth" containing some highly irritating processed vocals.

It is hard to single one track out as the worst, but "Fahrenheit 451" is just awful, a hand clapping chant with a needlessly repetitive hook.

Finally, as we near the end of the album, we are treated to a decent Rundgren ballad in "Only Human". In truth, this song is more of a Rundgren solo album number, but it does serve here to brighten up an otherwise lifeless album. The closing "One world" is another plain pop song, with a catchy repeating chorus.

Considering how creative and innovative Rundgren was, both as a solo performer and as a member of Utopia, it really is distressing to see him put his name to an album such as this. Sadly, things would not improve for the remainder of Utopia's existence as an album making band.

Easy Livin | 1/5 |


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