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Utopia - Todd Rundgren's Utopia CD (album) cover

TODD RUNDGREN'S UTOPIA

Utopia

 

Eclectic Prog

4.14 | 258 ratings

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Roj
Special Collaborator
Neo Prog Team
5 stars As a relative newcomer to PA, I have decided I will only review those albums which have not got so many reviews as yet, or where my opinion differs greatly from the vast majority. After all, what's the point in another review of CTTE by Yes, we ALL know it's brilliant. So my first review is Todd Rundgren's Utopia, an awesome album which is not very well represented on PA so far.

This is an album I bought many years ago, purely on the strength of the cover and the instruments the musicians played, including 3 keyboard players! I hadn't even heard of Utopia, but, boy did I make a good decision.

The opening track, Utopia Theme, performed live, is a truly outstanding slice of progressive rock. It is epic, bombastic, indulgent and quite brilliant, a mixture of swirling and warbling synths and killer guitar from Rundgren. The opening section is complex and leads into a slower part built around a great guitar riff, before we enter the faster section with phenomenal musicianship from the whole band. Drummer Kevin Ellman deserves a special mention for a truly outstanding display, as good as I have ever heard. Then follows a synthy spiral leading into the epic vocal section, and a stunning guitar solo by Todd, following the earlier vocal line. Brilliant stuff, it's a mixture of symphonic prog and space rock with a harder edge. It is probably one of my top 5 all-time tracks. The album is worth buying for this one track, I promise you.

The rest of the album is studio tracks. The production on these is, I have to say, a little light, perhaps a sign of the times. The next 2 tracks Freak Parade and Freedom Fighters are not a patch on the opener. Freak Parade is a decent enough slice of light, catchy prog, but Freedom Fighters is just an average pop song.

The final track, the 30 minute epic, The Ikon, is the album's other highlight. There are enough twists and turns, theme and time changes to keep any progger happy. The musicianship is again very tight and the vocal harmonies are a particular strongpoint. It is a difficult track to get into, given it's complexity. My recommendation is to give it several spins. Believe me, once it clicks you will love it, it's another all-time classic.

I would rate this a 4 star album based on the title track alone. Add The Ikon, and you have an undoubted 5 star album, and one that is an essential for all prog rock fans.

Roj | 5/5 |

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