Rock and Roll History
Ok kids, gather round, it’s time for another rock and roll history lesson by way of reviewing a new release. Todd Rundgren has a long and storied career, there is no other way to slice it. He started out as a psychedelic garage rocker in Nazz, before jumping feet first into Progressive Rock first as a solo performer, then as a member of the band Utopia. While prolifically recording his own solo and group material, he also found time to produce some of the most iconic, if not legendary, rock and roll albums of the 1970s: The New York Dolls self-titled debut album, Remote Control by the Tubes, and Meatloaf’s immortal Bat out of Hell.
Todd Rundgren has nothing to prove to anyone and has plenty of laurels to rest on. He could very easily sit back and collect royalty checks, living the life of Riley, but still he records and writes and performs. He’s doing this for fun at this point, for the love of the craft, and that sense of joy comes through on this album, Global.
“Terra Firma” is the standout cut on this record. Pulsing synth pads and echo effects create an ethereal vibe and the lyrics manage to incorporate Christopher Columbus’s first voyage to the New World, the flight of Apollo 7, and longing for home and family from far away. “Fate” is also musically lush and emotive, a song that deals with the topic of addiction. While some of the other songs on this record come off as being too on the nose (more on that later), here he manages to temper the directness of his message with artful imagery.
The downsides to Global are mostly lyrical ones. Most of the lyrics are commentary on the state of the world and are direct to the point of feeling heavy handed. The sentiment is admirable, be it celebrating women in “Earth Mother” or talking about the need to preserve the planet in “This Island Earth,” but the lyrics border on being preachy and reductive. That said, this album is Rundgren’s platform and these are issues he feels strongly about. Sometimes being direct is a better way to get a message across than by being overly oblique.
So ends the review, and so ends the lesson, thanks to Rundgren’s latest output, Global.