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Utopia: Todd Rundgren’s Utopia

Ron Ross, Phonograph Record, November 1974

1974 WAS A year that saw many artists grow up to the reality of a soft music market and a seemingly softer teenage head. While rock dinosaurs like Dylan and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young roamed the planet drawing half-hearted sustenance from vegetable-like mass audiences, Todd Rundgren and David Bowie resigned themselves to extensive, intensive trouping, taking the largest venues where they could, but more often settling for 3000-5000 converts at a time. While these three and four month stretches of touring only served to indicate more pointedly that rock is rather more like vaudeville than the faster electric medium we assume it is, the relatively slow, structured pace of roadwork allowed both Bowie and Rundgren to absorb the devotion of their fans and translate it into some new kind of artistic and emotional maturity. Thus, the debut album from Todd Rundgren's Utopia, in distinct contrast with Todd or A Wizard/A True Star, is not merely transitional or trendy: it represents in a completely satisfying and musical form Todd's coming to terms with his own protean, egocentric talents as a function of a "Utopian" group ethic.

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