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Initiation

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Album Review

Returning to solo recording almost immediately after forming Utopia, Todd Rundgren continued with the synth-heavy prog rock he pioneered with Todd Rundgren's Utopia on Initiation. The differences immediately resonate with "Real Man," a terrific song that encapsulates not only his newfound fondness for electronics, but also his burgeoning spirituality and his knack for pop craft. "Real Man" is so good, it's tempting to believe that the remainder of Initiation will follow in the same direction, resulting in an inspired, truly progressive fusion of classic Rundgren and synthesizers. As soon as the second track, an a cappella vocoder opus called "Born to Synthesize," it's clear that Rundgren has no intention of following that path, choosing to push the limits of synth technology and recorded music instead of constructing an album. Initiation suffers accordingly. At times, particularly on the first, song-oriented side, it is pretty intriguing, but too often, the results are simply frustrating because it doesn't go anywhere. That's particularly true with "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire," a half-hour "suite" that comprises all of side two and doesn't really go anywhere, despite hitting many stops along the way. It's enough to erase the memory of "Real Man," "Eastern Intrigue" and "Initiation," the moments where it all comes together on the first half of the record, but another spin of the first side reveals that Rundgren could have made Initiation something special if he had the discipline.

Biography

Born: 22 June 1948 in Upper Darby, PA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Todd Rundgren's best-known songs — the Carole King pastiche "I Saw the Light," the ballads "Hello, It's Me" and "Can We Still Be Friends," and the goofy novelty "Bang on the Drum All Day" — suggest that he is a talented pop craftsman, but nothing more than that. On one level, that perception is true since he is undoubtedly a gifted pop songwriter, but at his core, Rundgren is a rock & roll maverick. Once he had a taste of success with his 1972 masterwork Something/Anything?, Rundgren...
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Initiation, Todd Rundgren
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