on 12 August 2003
I can't believe I am the first to review this record on Amazon UK!
This is one of Todd's forgotten classics and worth buying for just 2 tracks:
- Real Man
- Fair Warning
"Real Man" was actually a minor UK hit in 1975 and is still amazingly fresh and uplifting. I can't help singing along to it.
"Fair Warning" is a true epic. A dark and powerful exploration of the commitment that some artists like Todd put into their work. Has some of the best wall of sound vocals and soulful saxophone ever committed to vinyl (or whatever CDs are made of).
Actually, I also love "Treatise on Cosmic Fire" (no, don't laugh) which was side 2 on the original record (now tracks 7 to 18 on the CD). This is a one-man tour de force where Todd played all the synthesisers, keyboards, guitars etc - though it's very unlike Mike Odfield's comparatively bland Tubular Bells! Some incredible soundscapes and surprising touches of Leonard Bernstein style melodies. You'll just have to listen to it and make up your own mind!
on 10 May 2008
This is the album that introduced me to Todd, way back when I was a youthful and spotty 16 year old - and it's the first track that is the real killer - Real Man. However the whole of side 1 (on those old fashioned plastic waffles called lp's) is really worth a listen - even Born to Synthesise which apparently is about electronic circuitry! Death of Rock n Roll is a heavy metallish rant at music critics, whilst Eastern Intrigue explores religion and the problems associated with it. Initiation is a guitar and synthesiser epic, whilst Fair Warning rounds of 'side 1' in epic style, as Todd uses one of his many clever tricks on this (and other of his albums) and incorporates snippets of lyrics from other classic songs of other albums of his. I must admit that I rarely listen to 'side 2' A Treatise on Cosmic Fire' but it does have its moments, although it requires several listenings to really appreciate it.
However this album is worth buying for 'side 1' alone. It introduced me to Todd, and I agree with others who say that the period 1970 - 1980 was probably his peak in terms of creativity and diversity in his music. Almost all of his albums from this period are worth getting, in particular A Wizard A True Star, Something / Anything, Hermit of Mink Hollow, Todd, Faithful. Also check out Utopia's, Ra , and Swing to the Right. Todd Rundgren is an artist that is hard to pigeonhole as his musical styles and influences are obviously broad and varied, but if you want to hear great songs, great musicianship, and great production then you won't be disappointed with any of the Todd solo albums mentioned above. Initiation is really worth getting just for Real Man alone - its an outstanding track lyrically and musically.
Back in May 2014 - Edsel of the UK began celebrating TODD RUNDGREN albums with 'Deluxe Edition' packaging upgrades - hardback book editions of key albums in his extensive back catalogue. The first three were "Something/Anything?" (a double-album from 1972), "A Wizard A True Star" (a single album from 1973) and "Todd" (another double from 1974). So here's the next batch of three for September 2014 - "Runt" - his debut solo album from December 1970 on Ampex Records now extended into a double-CD edition with bonuses - "Hermit Of Mink Hollow " from May 1978 on Bearsville Records - and this - "Initiation" from June 1975. Here are the Internal Eyes, Cosmic Treatises and Stellar Fires...
UK released 9 September 2014 (16 September in the USA) - Edsel EDSA 5032 (Barcode 740155503239) is a single-CD reissue of their October 2011 twinning with "Faithful" - only this time it's in a case bound hardback book (67:40 minutes). The attached 12-page booklet within has liner notes by Paul Myers from his superb tome "A Wizard, A True Star - Todd Rundgren In The Studio" and is an excellent read. The front and rear sleeve artwork of the June 1975 Bearsville vinyl album is here (BS 6957 in the USA and K 55504 in the UK) - as is the inner sleeve that came with original copies. The hard card case bound book has a details sticker on the outer shrink-wrap that easily peels off (if you want to attach it to the book cover). There are no extras.
There is no new remaster that I can hear - this is the Edsel October 2011 version - that in itself was a Peter Rynston UK master using the 1993 American Rhino remasters. Don't get me wrong - the sound is superb. And famous at the time as being the longest vinyl album ever made at 67:40 minutes - the original LP was always a dreadful compromise as a listening experience. So the CD remaster alters all of that and so much for the better. The only upgrade here is the cool-looking book packaging - which is a rather lovely thing to behold...
I loved November 1974's "Todd Rundgren's Utopia" - for me one of the true Prog masterpieces of the Seventies (with "The Ikon" on Side 2) - so I was frothing at the gash when this album came out. But it's a tale of two cities - the brilliant and the indulgent. Side 1 is superb - opening with the catchy "Real Man". It was actually released as a single in September 1975 with "Prana" the cool opening guitar/synth combo bit on Side 2 as its B-side. There's even a stab at boogie in "The Death Of Rock'n'Roll" and the frantic guitar soloing in "Initiation" is amazing. The lovely vibes of "Eastern Intrigue" are peppering with humorous lyrics but Todd genius comes in the shape of the gorgeous "Fair Warning" - as brill a Rundgren song as he's ever written (lyrics above).
But then unfortunately you're hit with the sort of indulgence that only an artist with total control can produce - the 35-minute synth/keyboard extravaganza that is the whole of Side 2 - "A Treatise On Cosmic Fire". He plays every imaginable keyboard in his own Studio and it's hard to swallow in one sitting. There are cool parts like the opening "Prana" which is returned to in the dying minutes of the piece - but most of it is endless wailing synth solos that irritate in stead of illuminating. It's not all un-listenable nonsense of course -but once past the opening eight minutes or so - it's not far off of it either. Ah the Seventies...
So there you have it - two sides to every story. And yet even now - nearly 40 years after the event - I still get a kick out of just looking at its sleeve...
on 21 January 2008
This is the album which originally introduced me to Todd Rundgren, back in the late seventies. Whilst it's far from being his best effort, and suffers from being a bit over-blown, it contains enough great tracks to make it worth buying.
It clocks in at something just over an hour, and was released at a time when TR was making some seriously long records. ("A Wizard...", "Todd Rundgren's Utopia" and "Ra" being the others.) Ironically, "Initiation" would improve from the original side two of the LP being trimmed down to retain the best parts. The second half of the over-indulgent "Treatise On Cosmic Fire" verges, for me, on the unlistenable. (Though who am i to criticise the artist's vision?) The first half, or some fifteenish minutes, is really very good. "Intro/Prana" is an especially pleasing opener.
The first side of the LP (tracks 1-6) is altogether much more satisfying. Opening with the divine "Real Man", one of Todd's most enduring songs. Up next is the relatively skippable "Born To Synthesise", but that leads in nicely to a great rocker ("The Death Of Rock and Roll"). "Eastern Intrigue" is more soothing, before the excellent title track and the side-closing, heartfelt "Fair Warning".
Todd Rundgren, in his heyday, was an artist who managed to put an extraordinary amount of sincerity into his work. So much so, that it sometimes felt like he was actually there in the room, performing for his audience.
on 25 July 2014
Until the expanded edition appears in Sept 14 and can review that,though if it's an extended version of side 2 then forget it.Hopefully live versions of side one will do nicely.I was born to synthesize,but not to listen to side 2 ever again.Lets make it clear,one of best sides of a vinyl album ever and the other.......