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Todd Rundgren - Healing CD (album) cover

HEALING

Todd Rundgren

 

Crossover Prog

3.00 | 37 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars One case where killing the Golden Goose would be justified

Following his 8th (including the two "Runt" albums) solo release "Hermit of Mink Hollow" in 1978, Todd focused his attention on his work with his Utopian colleagues. Three further Utopia albums were released before Todd rekindled his solo career in 1981 with "Healing".

In keeping with what had now become the distinction between the two strands to his career, on this album Todd plays, sings, writes and produces everything you hear. "Healing" is a concept album, the second side of which consists of a three part side long suite. The underlying themes explore Todd's interests in spiritual matters in far greater detail than he had revealed up until this point. While there are no Rundgren classics as such, the album (and bonus single) form an unusually (for Todd) cohesive whole.

The album opens with "Healer", a strange concoction of Middle Eastern type chants and Rundgren pop. It actually works reasonably well, the by now familiar synth patterns in the background keeping things contemporary. Things continue in a similar vein with "Pulse" although the vocal arrangement here is slightly more intricate. "Flesh" slows things down a bit for a decent power ballad, initially with minimal accompaniment.

"Golden goose" is generally the least appreciated song here, and it is easy to see why. This jaunty ditty with a circus like backing and a whimsical feel does not sit easily with its peers. Had the song been one of the brief one minute items on "A wizard, A true star", I suspect no one would have minded; here though it rather outstays its welcome. "Compassion" restores normality in another mid-paced heart-felt ballad. The song would have fitted in well on the previous "Hermit of Mink Hollow", where it would have been by far the longest track!

The longest song on side one here is the 8+ minute "Shine". At first the song sounds a bit messy but this is down to the rather offbeat arrangement. The floating synths and melodic vocal refrain actually sit together well, creating one of Todd's more anthemic pieces.

Side two of the album is occupied entirely by "Healing", a three part suite running to 20 minutes (although my LP only actually has 2 track bands, parts 1 and 2 appearing as one track). The seven minute first part is a gorgeous, relaxed affair with a wonderful melody (which is reminiscent of Roxette's much later "Listen to your heart") and some great sax. Todd's falsetto vocals are the perfect complement to the hypnotic backing theme. Part 2 slows things down through a ponderous, almost folk mantra, the repetitive backing to which is quite similar to the start of "Tubular bells". The final part is effectively a reprise of part 1, with the same basic themes.

Rather than create another impossibly long LP such as "Initiation", two further tracks intended for the album are added as a bonus 7" single to the LP package. "Time heals", the A side, is a rather ordinary power pop number with a highly repetitive chorus. It is not really strong enough to make a successful single, and too light for a decent album track. "Tiny demons" is much better, with a feel similar to the middle section of "Healing". The instrumental arrangement of the song is the strongest of the entire set.

My main criticism of this album is the predominance of rather cheap sounding keyboards, which generally have the feel of a budget keyboard bought for the average home. They tend lack the depth of sound which we associate with Todd, perhaps pointing towards deficiencies in the production. Admittedly, this album is a product of the early 1980's, where such sounds were very much the norm. We have always relied on Todd though to resist the norm in favour of setting his own standards. I should emphasise though that such aspects do not render the album disposable by any means. This is a fine album, indeed for some it is Todd at his best. I do no go that far, but I happily recommend it to those who enjoy the music of the maestro.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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