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Todd Rundgren ~ Arena

Vendor: Hi Fi Recordings SKU: B001EZ6OLE/1Weight: 94 gCategories: All Products, Best Selling Products, Clearance, Deals of the Week!, Exclude Bodysocks, Glolo, Latest Deals

Todd Rundgren ~ Arena

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      Customer Reviews

      Based on 22 reviews


      An off day for the great Todd....

      I really hoped that Todd would carry on the great work from "Liars" but sadly this album does not play to Todds strengths...I really think he should realise the limitations of his vocals and I also wish he would stay away from inferior heavy metal stuff that just sound like a soundtrack to a WWF sequence. Todds great gift is his ear for melody ("The missing link between Brian Wilson and Prince" is a wonderful comment I read on him)and on this CD he just gives brief glimpses of that talent that at times has bordered on greatness. Also Todd why do you produce such naff covers for your Cd's!?

      Todd is God!

      Have read numerous reviews of the album, almost all really positive, but some seem intent on nit-picking about the 'tinny' drums, and sometimes 'muffled' vocals. Since receiving my copy of the cd I have found more and more to enjoy, and agree with those who see the album as one which stands alongside some of his best work.Rather than bemoan the lack of a genuine drum sound, or the supposed vocal shortcomings(NOT APPARENT TO THESE EARS WITH 35 YEARS EXPERIENDCE OF TODD'S GENIUS!) one should marvel yet again that he has delivered an outstanding album single-handedly, with a freshness of attitude and vitality that may well be unique in any performer of his age. His voice is immense, his guitar work full of passion and flair, and if the world in general continues to ignore his brilliance that is their loss! As ever, Todd remains 'A Wizard, A True Star!'

      Raaaaaaaaaaaa... The wizard and true star returns!

      I have been a Todd fan since waaaay back to Something / Anything, so I've been through the highs and (thankfully few) lows of Toddness (I was even at his first Hammersmith gig with the sadly missed Luther Vandross in his backing band back in 1975, and am glad to have a recording of that whole night to remind me of his greatness back then). Have seen him loads of times since, including a great gig with Joe Jackson and Ethel at The Sage in Gateshead, it was a night which will stay with me on many levels (as will his guitar pick, which I found under my seat at the end of the gig!).

      Back to "Arena" though. It is full of guitar lick magic which was sadly missing on the otherwise tremendous Liars album. This, like Liars, is one album that will stay in my player for some weeks to come.

      Go buy it, you know it makes sense. Well done to Hawaii's (probably) greatest inhabitant (I haven't found any uke on this album, yet!).

      a poor offering

      For quite some time now, every other Todd Rundgren release has seen him delve into new musical territory, whether broadway, hip hop, bossa nova or RnB. Arena continues this pattern. The concept this time is 70's stadium rock and heavy metal.

      Some may say that this perpetual musical mimickery shows Rundgren lacks the originality he once had. But in actual fact Todd Rundgren has always been an acolyte for the art of reproduction, the chief alchemist taking base musical metal and altering it wonderfully so. It's that gift that made him a Wizard, a TRue star. From the Carole King and Laura Nyro influenced Something Anything to the didactic titled Arena, Rundgren never conceals his musical cues. Sometimes he does it well. Sometimes he doesn't.

      With limited resources at his disposal, Todd Rundgren ought to be given credit for his skill in putting together another album on a shoestring. However it is disappointing to hear that all the same sound issues that blighted The Individualist are present on Arena. Lyrics are hard to make out, as if Todd is TRying to disguise the frailties of an aging vocal behind loud music. The overall production and mixing has a cheap digital feel.

      Granted, he has toned down the usual Rundgren embellishments on this album; a TR-ick he has used copiously in the past to tart up fundamentally weak and repititive material. This time the music isn't an ugly mug with some make up on, just an ugly mug. The music sounds remarkably mechanistic and artificial for an album that is supposed to be stripped-down lo-fi ballsy rock. This is more like faking it in front of the mirror with an air laptop. The epitome of plastic pastiche.

      Taking a look at the tracks themselves, MAD is just about ok, but the way he takes the song from it's nice clean acoustic CSNY/America beginning, and thrusts it into heavy metal, is just one of many dubious progressions on this album. The Utopian heavy metal guitar sounds like someone trying to cut their way out of a brown paper bag with a blunt chainsaw. Unconvincing and unpleasant.

      Many songs on Arena not only have a limited pleasure principle, but also compositional problems. Too many songs on the album sound like a verse has been grabbed from here, a riff from there, and a middle 8 from some sub-folder leftover from the Liars album. It all sounds too much like a square object jammed into a round hole. This album has a lack of musical fluency which Rundgren tries to disguise with for example the little funky flick on Afraid, tenuously linking the verse to the middle eight. It cons some people, but it doesn't work for me anymore.

      TR-i isn't hiding behind multi-track polyphonic wizardry this time, which just makes the limitations of this psuedo-analogue reTRovation all the more apparent.

      AFRAID is just a banal conciousness-raising effort that sounds like a Christian rock song. A miserable dirge.

      MERCENARY has this Led Zep Hawkwind thing goin on, threatens to be pleasing but is killed off by the sheer digital mechanical lethargy of it all.

      GUN is a witty blues-rock indictment of gun culture. The middle eight is a lovely piece of blue eyed soul, Todd's instinctual phrasing is flawless here, pity it sounds like a totally different song.

      COURAGE and WEAKNESS are two lumps of sugary earcandy for the Todd crusties. We've heard these chords, harmonies, and the sensitive-man sentiments a zillion times before. Passable, lyrically truthful, and unoriginal.

      Todd takes impersonation to a new level of literalism on STR-iKE. Single handedly incorporporating the whole of AC/DC in his macbook reportoire.

      PISSIN is fun. Reminiscent in some ways of Soul Brother from Liars. The same laid back wit.

      Almost surprised to see that TODAY came bottom of a Todd Rundgren fan poll, gaining zero votes. Lovely spacey Utopia synth intro, and a riotous guiter-vocal, best served loud, ala Billy Idol. This is Arena rock with spikey short hair. Slightly Emo, and a hundred times better than MCR. A good track.

      BARDO is just a soporific spliff-fest. More Eastern preachy. Gary Moore. Not my scene.

      MOUNTAINTOP. Synchronise those air guitars, throw out the mic, your goin up to the spirit in the sky... It sure feels like I may expire at any moment. Rolleyes.

      PANIC, frenetic rock reminiscent of The Police and Utopia's network album. Good track.

      MANUP, the rockier side of Foreigner and The Cars. If that's ya drift, It's an alright track. But not my drift.

      To sum up, this album isn't in the same league as its RnB inflected predecessor Liars, and is emblematic of my own existential loss of love for the music of a life-long hero. This is Todd in, fling out another album hit the road and have a few beers mode. Other than that, the innovaTR offers nothing new on this elpees worth of Wrigleys. The fans will lap it up, and the rest of us will remain a tad more circumspect. But at 60 years old and 40 years of music-making, Todd Rundgren remains indestructible. He'll be back with a masterpiece next time....

      ...Todd returns to rock, reviewer purrs with pleasure...

      One of my simple rules of life is this; anyone who doesn't think that seventies Todd Rundgren is a musical genius cannot be trusted on any music related matter. Ever. Now, I'm not going to deny that Mr Rundgren has made life difficult for me from time to time. The late eighties and nineties, in particular, were fairly indefensible, but Liars was a return to form, despite selling about three copies, and when I heard that Arena was going to be a guitar heavy rock album, the anticipation levels went through the roof.Now I'm sitting here with an advance copy of the nineteenth studio Todd album and it's pretty much everything I could have hoped for. Todd himself said Arena "is a definite return to riff-oriented guitar rock. It's supposed to make you reflexively pump your fist and wave a lighter in the air." Well, not quite, but it is a fabulous return to form and the music that made me swoon for him in the first place. Don't come here if you're looking for his experiments in a cappella, bossa nova, and rapping. This has much more in common with some of his heavier Utopia moments, minus the gibberish, and all the better for it.The songs are all short, sharp and to the point, with even the titles restricting themselves to a single word. And for a man who has just turned sixty, he performs them with a fire in his belly. At times he even veers surprisingly close to metal as he rocks out hard, with "Gun", in particular, a pounding riff happy tune that should sound even better with a real band on his live dates. However, this is Todd Rundgren, so the album still manages to be a concept album, albeit a loose one about the nature of conflict.The opener "Mad", is also the single, and it's a straight down the middle rock tune that doesn't really prepare you for what's to come, although it does have a splendid guitar solo. "Afraid" is a much more restrained number which would have slotted easily onto Liars, but then "Mercenary" arrives and blows you away with it's vicious guitar and anti-war ranting. An absolute belter of a song. And is that a tribute to Boston (the band) in the middle? You won't be surprised to learn that "Gun" is about gun control, but it's another heavy rocking cracker. "Courage" takes us back to classic seventies Todd and is a nice change of pace. Coming up to the half way point and "Weakness" seems to be his take on the blues, with a slow, menacing groove.Over on Side 2 (if only), and Todd has decided to beat AC/DC at their own game on "Strike". Yes, really, the most unlikely sentence I've written this year, straight of Flick Of The Switch, with repetitive beats and cries of "are you ready to rumble". Utterly mad and utterly splendid. Then the chorus arrives and he actually does a Brian 'Beano' Johnson impersonation. I had to hit replay just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating. The obligatory comedy number arrives on "Pissin", and I do not want to know why someones "dick is in the mayonnaise". The first skippable number. Things flag slightly on "Today" and "Bardo", the keyboard heavy former sounds like a Liars outake, the latter is a good, mellow, spaced out number that just seems out of context here.But Mr Rundgren still has a few tricks up his sleeve as we near the end, with the boogiefied "Mountaintop" finally attaining the punching the air effect, "Panic" playing homage to some of his own earlier work, and a number that long term fans will find themselves returning to and the closing "Manup", an out and out stadium rocker, replete with another classic guitar solo.It's not the greatest album he's ever made, but it's certainly up there with some of his best. I'm old school, so would have preferred real percussion and bass, rather than Rundgren's preferred protools method, but it's a small quibble on what is one of my favourite albums of the year. I'm not sure about the UK release but there is an American version planned which will come with a DVD and CD of Rundgren's live performance of the album from a US show in July. Something I will definitely be queuing up for, especially if the UK tour lives up to its promise.

      Back to vintage(ish) Todd at last...

      I received the album today. I love it. For me Liars was just a step too far away from the power pop/soul that I personally love from Todd.

      Fantastic guitar playing of a vintage that for me harks back to Utopia and albums like 'Mink Hollow.

      I love it but then again I own ALL of his records.

      Wacky Rock that's Great Entertainment

      I hadn't listened to Todd Rundgren in too long, then recently went on a voyage of rediscovery and browsed through some of his works on I was intrigued by descriptions of Arena - the price was great so I chanced it. I'm really glad I did because I've had many hours of entertainment from this disc. Whether much of it was tongue in cheek who knows, but for sheer musicianship and entertainment value it's a blast. Yes there are plenty of nods to other bands and their works but it's still all Todd Rundgren and his singing and playing are really on great form - it's so easy to criticise but very very difficult to write songs with his feel for lyrics and melody, especially if there's a sense of humour in there too :)There aren't many albums I've bought not knowing the songs where I've actually discovered I love most of the tracks, what a catalogue of surprises.I didn't regret this purchase one bit and would recommend it to anyone who likes well produced rock music that's a bit different but still makes sense!

      Five Stars

      Fantastic 2008 album by todd rundgren , excellent new material and a fast delivery

      return to form

      I was fortunate enough to hear a preview of this album and have two words for you..... "buy it!".It is the best thing he has done in ages. Proper TR songs at last.

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      Open Box: New and un-used. Original packaging is present, although may show light damage from handling.

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