Okay. Let’s talk about Todd again. I don’t know how this person ever graced the Earth. We surely do not deserve him.
Some months ago, I thought Todd could not exceed Something/Anything. How wrong I was. Utopia is nothing short of an aural miracle. Such a density of ideas has seldom been seen or heard before. I have no superlatives in my vast arsenal which can adequately surmise the magnificence of this album.
From start to finish, Utopia did not falter. Peaking at #34 on the Pop Album chart, this seminal 1974 record sold very well. Please excuse my excitement. I was driving on the A42 on the way to Nottingham earlier and this album made me cry. Throughout my journey I would cry on a total of four occasions. This album is the stuff from which dreams are made.
In a way,
you are just a soldier of the mind
Utopia’s brilliance is pushed further when I discovered it was recorded live at The Secret Sound and The Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 25th, 1974. Todd Rundgren was 26 when he created and produced Utopia. Do I need to keep going? I must.
The first track; Utopia Theme, is shocking enough. Especially at the point where Todd himself walks on stage and the entire mood of the song pivots.
The Freak Parade is my second favourite track. Follow it as it gradually builds up the layers of sound; adding a previous melody to a new one, ending in a gorgeous club sandwich of sound. You’ll hear what I mean.
Freedom Fighters gives you a short break from lengthy songs to prepare you for what is coming. It’s in its own way a protest song. Maybe protesting the current popular thought. But the melody is unique and dreadfully catchy.
And the music plays forever
And it captures every ear
And the sound of barriers crashing down
Is the sweet harmony you hear
Finally, The Ikon is a strange yet striking 34(!) minute song. It venerates a mystical being called the Ikon which seems to open people’s minds when worshipped. I know it sounds trippy and you’re probably wondering what I imbibed, but I urge you to pay close attention to this song. It is replete with splendour and variety. Halfway through there is a brief pause where Todd plays bizarre percussion signalling the next step in the song. Listen once again how Rundgren uses techniques established in The Freak Parade. He once again introduces melodies but this time layers them in different combinations. Sometimes with or without ones previously introduced. It’s really quite a phenomenal experience.
Someone knows who you are
Someone watches over you
Someone knows how you feel
And someone feels the same
Floods of tears erupt when I hear those words.
I cannot impress upon you the scale of the contribution Utopia makes to progressive rock. Nor can I tell you of how profoundly it has affected me. I am in awe of Todd Rundgren. Utopia is a magnificent success.