Friday, September 19, 2008

Todd Rundgren-Arena


The career of Todd Rundgren has certainly had some highs and lows creatively with the majority of the highs having occurred some time ago. On this his 19th studio album he said it would be a return to “riff-oriented guitar rock” and that’s sort of true. This is generally a rock album, but it’s a moderately wide range of styles and results. We get some 1980’s style pop-oriented rock, some hard rock and some songs that surprisingly even flirt with being metal if you can imagine that. I am all for changing the pace and mixing things up, but the overall feel of this album is a bit awkward. More than anything the success of each song seems to depend a lot on how comfortable Rundgren sounds. Quite honestly it’s the heavier tracks that ultimately suffer here as saying the vocals sound “forced’ on most of the heavier tracks is a vast understatement. Many of the lighter tracks are perhaps rather safe, but the vocals compliment the music to a far greater extent. I had just about written this off as a mediocre album at best, but then the final three tracks “Mountaintop”, “Panic” and “Manup” all show a sense of purpose and control that was lacking on the previous 10 tracks. It’s still a rather average album as a whole, but those last tracks are certainly worth checking out.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your review is interesting but are you sure you have been listening to the same album?

This is a blistering album from one of rock's greatest showmen. Strike pays homage to AC/DC and Mercenary cuts a lethal rock and roll metal slice.

Classic Rock mgazine in the UK just gave the album 8 out of 10 and said it was quite possibly one of Todd's best albums since Something/Anything.

I would have to agree. This album works on a number of different levels. Expect the unexpected from rock's most exciting guitarist and live performer.

Interestingly, Bruce Dickinson is playing "Strike" from Todd's new album tonight on his BB6 6 Music radio show in the UK. Some Maiden endorsement here I believe!

Again, if it's good enough for Bruce Dickinson, it's good enough for me.

6:01 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

anony-Blistering? Afraid not, there were a few good tracks and a whole lot of very okay songs.
This album attempts to work on different levels, but it doesn't succeed on all of them not by a long shot. There are too many occasions where he is just reaching and it sounds forced.

6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi misery guts.
So exactly to what extent into Todd Rundgren's repotoire does your grasp fail to reach?

I notice you didn't mention the many homages to the signatures of his own past material on the album, or how the lyrics strikingly fit each genre.

Many years ago Todd's own summation of critics like you says it all.
He said:
"I bring an album out and they all say

- God! this album sucks, it's nowhere as good as the last album -

then I'll bring out another and they'll say

- God! this album sucks, it's nowhere as good as the last album -

If the depth of his talent doesn't hit it's mark for you on the first couple of plays, it perhaps says more of your understanding of good music than his..

7:41 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

"If the depth of his talent doesn't hit it's mark for you on the first couple of plays, it perhaps says more of your understanding of good music than his.."

....or perhaps that statement shows your inability to respect opinions that differ from yours.

7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear Motley Crue has a new album coming out. They can't play and can't string a sentance together. Just your kind of metal music. Great hair, though!!!

9:53 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

anony-Oh, you are so clever. You must have spent an hour coming up with that snappy comment.

Maybe it's just time to grow up and realize that not everyone in the world is going to agree with your views.

Thanks for stopping by and increasing my hit count though.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your honest critique of Todd's new album. I'm of the rabid fan variety, and while I'll purchase anything he creates, it's nice to hear what it sounds like to the non-rabid fan.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

anony-Thanks. I went in hoping to enjoy the album and found a few songs to my liking, but the majority were not.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so here is my opinion.
I like the Arena album, and I totally agree with the first Anonymous
Comment, that was left on your website, as regards to the Arena
Album. There is also a story, behind each track of the said album.
Which makes this album unique.
It's basically Rock & Roll Music, that's moving with the times we
live in, not living in the past, like some Groups tend to do with their
material, and set list.
So good luck to the Arena Album project, and no doubt, this will
not probably be the last, that we have heard of Todd-R's new
musical adventures.
Another point, at least he does not rip the p*ss, for going to see
his show's/gigs, referring to ticket prices.
My Sister, went to a Rolling Stones Concert, about four years ago
in Glasgow, and it cost her £130/$250 a ticket.
Todd-R's Concerts, equal value for money!
Not Fleece Thigh Fans, Like Some Groups!
I Rest My Opinion.
JJM. :):)

6:56 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

JMM-Certainly I don't agree with you on this album because it's far too uneven and the bulk of it does indeed try to live in the past although not always Rundgren's past. However I am certainly with you on ticket prices. I think so many veteran artists try to really soak fans these days and that's a real shame. So many of these acts are well past their prime yet they charge far more now than when they were at their peak. I just don't feel the need to contribute to some hasbeen's retirement fund.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Whilst i think the album is better than you do, I think your review of it is perfectly fine - unlike some of the commentors. It isn't TR's best record; his voice does sound strained on heavier numbers (as it does when he play rockier numbers live); and there is an inbalance on the record.

However: I still think some of the rockier songs work - Mad and Mercenary especially, and it is a record which improves with listening. It's good , but not great.

5:52 AM  

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