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Todd Rundgren - Hermit of Mink Hollow CD (album) cover

HERMIT OF MINK HOLLOW

Todd Rundgren

 

Crossover Prog

3.09 | 19 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Introverted and alone

With Todd now fully committed to parallel careers as a solo artist and as a member of Utopia, it was perhaps inevitable that the inspiration would start to run out, or at least be harder to find. For me, "Hermit of mink hollow" represents the first album by Rundgren which failed to excite me in some way.

I should make it clear straight away that this is not a bad album, but it lacks the spark which has been so consistently apparent in the prolific Todd's output. The running time of under 35 minutes is also somewhat mean when compared with previous crammed productions. Perhaps in an effort to draw a clear distinction between his solo work and that of Utopia, Todd reverts to a genuine solo status here, writing, performing and producing the entire album unassisted.

The album is made up of 12 brief songs, the longest of which is a mere 3 minutes. Side one, which is sub-titled "The easy side", opens with the upbeat catchy pop of "All the children sing". As which pretty much everything here, it is a finely crafted number which offers nothing substantial. The following "Can we still be friends", a melancholy pop ballad, was a big hit single for Todd, and thus probably fulfilled his ambitions for the album.

"Hurting for you" is a soulful piece featuring a fine vocal performance by Todd, while "Too far gone" is a lighter, whispy basic pop song. We plumb the depths rather with the thankfully brief "Onomatopoeia", which features such classic lines as "Onomatopoeia, Every time I see ya, my senses tell me hubba, and I just can't disagree-a". Oh Todd, what were you thinking?! The track concludes with a succession of onomatopoeic words. "Determination" is the rockiest number on the side, and the one which comes closes to his Utopia style.

The second side is deemed the "Difficult side", but presumably this reflects the songwriting and production challenges as the music is anything but difficult. "Bread" is a plea relating to hunger contained within a pleasant pop melody. The following "Bag lady" explores a similar poverty related theme in a more sensitive piano and vocal performance. After these heavy themes, Todd reverts to a tale of broken love for "You cried wolf", a Stevie Wonder style piece of soul pop.

My personal favourite song on the album is "Lucky guy", a 2 minute pop ballad with a great melody and Brian May like guitar. Actually, I would recommend a great cover version of this song by Kim Wilde if you are interested. "Out of control" is a messy romp through a basic rock song while "Fade away" is a fine closing ballad with a slightly more interesting arrangement.

In all, an album with some decent pop songs (plus one or two not so good ones), which sees Todd retreating into his hollow. After being spoilt by album after album of surprises, it is perhaps understandable that he should choose to take a breather here.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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