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Oops! Wrong Planet

Utopia

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Album Review

Abandoning overt prog — thereby leaving behind the operas and extended instrumental sections, but not the organ solos — Utopia became a mainstream rock band with their fourth album, Oops! Wrong Planet. Since the group's first two albums were marginally listenable and RA flirted with outright parody, it comes as a shock to hear Utopia be outright accessible and listenable, two qualities virtually foreign to their previous work. The quartet has been revamped, redesigned as a mainstream arena rock band. And that means that the chores are spread a little more evenly, meaning that not only does everyone get to write, everyone gets to sing, occasionally on songs Todd Rundgren wrote. Despite his efforts to democratize the group, Utopia still feels very much like Rundgren's baby, mainly because the only songs that really work are ones that he writes and sings. And since Utopia is now merely a hard rock band, Rundgren reserves his more ambitious ideas and complex songs for his solo records. The end result of all this is that Oops! Wrong Planet is more consistent than earlier Utopia records, but is not as sporadically brilliant or rewarding as Rundgren's solo albums. Even the bad moments, such as the very silly "Gangrene," aren't particularly unlistenable, yet there are simply too many average, undistinguished songs for the record to actually soar. Nevertheless, Rundgren turns in some fine moments — "Love in Action" is a terrific hard rocker, as is "Trapped," and "Love Is the Answer" is an ideal stadium anthem — that make the record worthwhile for the cult, even if it will sound like little more than a period piece to most listeners. [The album was reissued on CD in 2006 and includes a bonus track.]

Biography

Formed: 1974 in New York, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s

Stardom was handed to him with Something/Anything?, but Todd Rundgren rejected it. He wanted to explore new musical territory instead, and his adventures led him to form Utopia in 1974. Initially, Utopia was a prog rock septet featuring three keyboardists, but as the '70s progressed, the group evolved into a shiny mainstream rock quartet, and Rundgren retreated into the background, as each of his bandmates contributed songs and lead vocals to the albums. By the early '80s, Utopia had developed into...
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Oops! Wrong Planet, Utopia
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