I hear space signals leading to a signature Rundgren guitar line that takes us on “The Road to Utopia.” The song has Todd singing lead while the other three members of the band sing incredibly tight vocal harmonies assisting him to make a pop/prog extravaganza! The aliens have landed!
Each band member gets the chance to take their own vocal spotlight on Adventures In Utopia, like drummer John Willie Wilcox with the single “Girl You Make Me Crazy.” The band have worn their Beatles influence on their sleeves throughout their career and in fact released a wonderful Beatles homage album entitled Deface the Music the very same year as this one.
“Second Nature” is a strong upbeat ballad with pop-jazz flavoring and a cool R&B style falsetto vocal by Todd. One of my favorite softer Todd songs. It’s always great to hear bassist Kasim Sulton’s incredible voice on a Utopia recording and the song “Set Me Free” does not disappoint.
Keyboardist Roger Powell takes his vocal spotlight on the next track “Caravan.” This is perhaps the most progressive song of the album with a great Todd guitar line, warring keyboard/guitar solos, and eerie middle eastern feel over the almost seven minute duration. New wave gets a bit of a nod on “Last of the New Wave Riders,” which is not really very new wave at all. It is a Rock ‘n’ Roll tour de force for the band however.
Kasim’s “Shot in the Dark” has a bit of a cabaret feel about it, and reminds me of what The Beatles might have done with a similar song as Todd treats his voice like he’s singing into a megaphone during the refrain. “The Very Last Time” begins tenderly and builds into an aggressive lyric and chorus. Gospel tinged “Love Alone” would not sound out of place on a Queen album. Kasim sings this song with such passion and grace as the band backs him up with lush harmonies. It could bring one to tears.
Closing with “Rock Love” is logical, as it is a classic Todd anthem-style song with a driving bass, energetic vocal and assertive lyrics. Many of the best Todd Rundgren produced albums have closed with just such a song.
As well as his numerous solo and Utopia recordings, Todd has had an incredible career as a producer. Doing production duties for such disparate artists as Hall & Oates, The Tubes, Psychedelic Furs, XTC, The Sparks, Steve Hillage, Meatloaf, Rick Derringer and others. His unmistakable stamp has remained on most of these artists following recordings even after Todd left the producer chair, he has been that influential.
Todd took his band Utopia through many stages during their twelve year career, and Adventure in Utopia is one of the highlights of that run along with the first Todd Rundgren’s Utopia and RA. Todd Rundgren and his band Utopia have produced a phenomenal work with Adventures In Utopia that dips its foot in several genres including Progressive Rock, Pop Music, Blue-Eyed Soul, and Rock and Roll. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on December 11th, 2010