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Todd Rundgren - Initiation CD (album) cover


Todd Rundgren


Crossover Prog

3.84 | 73 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A little bit of pop, a lot of rock and a ton of prog. What a pleasant surprise this album is!

It's pretty clear to see that progressive rock is not globally accepted by the critics. This album was bashed and slashed when it came out and on it's been rated with a rather disgruntled two out of five stars. A little bit harsh considering that this album is a hugely impressive feat in both music and engineering. In the days of vinyl this album was released totaling at 68-minutes, that would fill a cd by today's length. While the second side of the album is probably the most fragile side of vinyl to ever be released to have to respect that Rundgren was able to make a side that was twice as along as just about anything released in its day. It's like having all of Close To The Edge on one side of vinyl.

This all has nothing to do with the music itself, of course. But this is probably Todd's best album for those who are looking for something closer to his days with Utopia. While there is some more conventional pop/rock songs on the album there's just as much pure progressive rock that will make your head spin. But even the more conventional songs are done with a prog flair, keyboards abound and moments of quirk that make for a surprising listen time after time. Real Man is a wonderful, if short, keyboard laden track that has a pleasant chorus and some good hooks. The a-Capella Born To Synthesize is well done, even if it almost seems long at 3-minutes in length and it leads right into the heaviest song on the album - a rebuttal against the poor reviews that he had been getting - The Death of Rock And Roll. The quirkiest of the more conventional songs is Eastern Intrigue a song with strange vocal melodies that is somewhat slow moving, but still a good listen.

And then the album takes a quantum leap from good to amazing. Initiation is the album's first longer track, totaling at 7-minutes, and it's a keyboard driven blast-fest that is just as fun as it is complex. Layers upon layers of sound move you along until the drum breakdown which then turns into a multi-instrument segment before moving right back into the song at full power. Wow. Some critiques of this song have said that it, ''doesn't go anywhere'' - and these people obviously were not listening... at all. Fair Warning is a touch weaker, although still very good - a more emotional track that moves through a few moods over its time before finally ending, giving way to the end of the first side.

The second side of the album has got to be the longest, and one of the best sides recorded for a prog rock record. Totaling at 36-minutes, A Treatise On Cosmic Fire is a multi-part instrumental suite that could not have been done better. Although the middle sections are sometimes slower than the absolutely mindblowing opening segment of the song, it makes for a killer listen again and again as you discover more and more layers to the song. The recurring themes at the beginning and end of the song are catchy enough that you'll want to hear the album again just to get it out of your head (where it will undoubtedly get stuck) while the middle segments will just make you drift along over a sea of excellent prog.

This is probably the most typically 'progressive' album by Rundgren thanks to the length of the showcase track, and it certainly deserves a listen from anyone who had an inch of liking for Utopia. An excellent addition to any prog collection, this one is going to get 4 stars out of 5 - recommended for those who like a little bit of pop in their prog, but on an album that has more than half an hour of pure, unfiltered progressive rock. Very impressive.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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