Monday, April 25, 2011



Since the whole focus of this blog is CD reviews, I’m approaching the “A to Z” challenge by posting a review from a different artist for each letter of the alphabet.

In the interests of full disclosure, many of these are reviews that were previously posted on my blog on My Space, and while they are new posts to this blog, and new to most of you, they are not new work on my part, except for going and retrieving them from My Space and gathering cover images and alphabetizing them. I guess that’s work.

But that enabled me to get a head start, and since April is a pretty busy month for me, the head start allowed me to participate. Think of this as a way to catch up on some of the music you missed over the past few years, as I suspect that many of these artists you will not have heard of, although some, of course, are household names.

If reading any of these ramblings inspires you to go check out the artist’s music, I hope you’ll come back with comments on what you think after listening for yourself.

Links to soundbytes or video clips are highlighted in red.

Didja really think you'd make it out of April and through 26 posts without a Todd Rundgren album review? Oh ye of little faith...

Ra was my introduction to Todd Rundgren’s music, played in tenth grade English class by TBW, a teacher who had a major impact on my life. Just introducing me to TR qualifies as a major impact, but there are other pieces of wisdom I learned from him that I still remember and am grateful for.

Offered as an example of a non-traditional short story, TBW played the cut “Singring And The Glass Guitar,” an eighteen minute epic that signaled the last piece of progressive music from the new lineup that had been stripped back from the earlier two albums.

The huge, electric "orchestra" present on the debut had been reduced to a four-piece comprised of Roger Powell (synthesizers, piano, organ, and vocals); Todd Rundgren (electric and acoustic guitars); Kasim Sulton (electric bass guitar and vocals); and John "Willie" Wilcox (drums percussion, and vocals). This lineup would endure for almost a decade, releasing eight more albums before calling it quits.

Todd Rundgren is very creative here, creating hypnotic synthesizer and guitar interplayby trading licks with Roger Powell. The four-part vocal harmonies that would become Utopia’s signature abound, and each band member is showcased both as lead vocalist on at least one track as well as on “Singring.”

The bottom line- RA is a great album, a perfect mix of pop (Eternal Love), rockers (Hiroshima), prog rockers (Communion With The Sun) and an epic prog-rock fairy tale (Singring). Perfect for proggers and fans of Todd more mainstream music, if you can only buy one Utopia CD, this is the one.

It's even one of Neal Morse's (ex-Spock's Beard, Transatlantic, new solo album next month) top five albums of all time! Don't believe me? Check out the liner notes on "V."


  1. I love teachers who get through by utilizing more than just the textbook/lecture method. It's funny how years later, some of the stuff we love and even who we are, we can credit to a great teacher or two.

    My A-Z Blogging “U” Post

  2. This seems interesting.
    I'll have to check it out.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  3. Alright, here's my "REAL" comment:

    I was wondering when Horseface Rugrat would make an appearance in your "A To Z" postings.

    Actually, he already did, right? Mentioned as a producer? But mentioned as a performer, "Utopia" would have been my first guess, although I couldn't have guessed which album since I don't know the titles of any of them. (Except "RA", now.)

    McDisc, you've acquired quite a few new "Followers" this April. How many "Regular Readers" do you reckon that will equate to?

    [Yeah, that was my guess, too.]

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  4. Word Nerd- That teacher had a HUGE impact on me. I wish I could find a way to get in touch with him now just to let him know I haven't forgotten.


    Since I often read ano do not comment, maybe the same will happen here. I can only tell people about the music. It's up to them to listen...


  5. >>> . . . I can only tell people about the music. It's up to them to listen...

    Yes, you can lead an ear to the CD player, but you can't make him remove his iPod bud.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  6. I did get in touch with a teacher who had a big impact on me. I got lucky; he was still working at the same high school I had attended decades before.

    I had pretty much been a no-effort straight-A student, but the first essay I wrote in freshman English class came back to me with a big red "C" at the top of it. Sure that it was a mistake (or a joke), I approached the teacher, who assured me that it was the grade I'd earned.

    He told me that he'd seen my transcript and knew that I'd just sort of been phoning it in. He said that the paper might have earned an A for another student, but since he knew full well that I hadn't really put much effort into it, he thought a C was perfectly fair. He added that if I wanted an A in his class, I'd have to earn it.

    I was furious.

    I worked harder in that class than I ever had before, and I learned a lot--both academically and more importantly, I realized that it wasn't okay to just slide. I earned that A--the first one that I'd ever felt really great about--and then over the next few years, I used many of my electives to take every single class that he taught.

    That man embodied all that a teacher should be, I believe, and I was happy to have been able to tell him so.