One Long Year

Review by Bill Bricker (Switch to

Todd Rundgren's focus on computers and the Internet is adequately represented in "One Long Year," his most recent wide release of music since 1997's "With a Twist." One vestige of that Bosa Nova experiment where he retooled his classics in a traveling Tiki Don Ho lounge style surfaces here in the form of "Love of the Common Man."

The collection of songs, however (newly crafted for the most part), is more evident in the opener, "I Hate My Freaking ISP." A hard driving rant that any cyberpunk can relate to. This creates one half of the bookend which is completed on track 10 by "The Surf Talks." The album starts with expressed angst at technology offering a world perpetually inches out of reach, and ends with the calmer, more haunting peace of passive wisdom, "Beware, I love you." (The Beach Boys meet Mahavishnu?)

Track two, "Buffalo Grass" is another indicator of Rundgren's relocation to Hawaii but still offers his patented background vocals, strong melodic lead, and multi-purpose lyrics. It's about addiction, to be sure, but to drugs? Computers? People? Take your pick. The bass and overall sound continue the flavor from ISP, but begins the up and down pace found throughout the disc.

Following the frenetic "Jerk" it's time out for the sarcastic, witty, ukulele rendition of "Bang the Drum," the afore-mentioned rework of LOTFM, and walk down memory lane with "Where Does The Time Go." The latter is one of those tasty pop morsels that didn't find it's way onto disc. It could easily have been a big hit of the '80s had anyone had the presence of mind to promote it. Here it serves to reflect on the current musical trend of mixing sounds from the last 30 years in Rock.

The new material is woven with the old in Rundgren's current power TRi-0 live show that amazingly creates a wall of sound needed for the energy of "Yer Fast." "I like it, I like, I like it, I like it," balances out the "IhateIhateIhateIhate" in ISP. The guitar work keeps pace with the tune. It is nice to know TR can make a hot lick seem as effortless as breathing. Throw in a nod to sampling with "Mary and the Holy Ghost" and a tribute to Philly Soul found in "Hit Me Like A Train" and you have another hour's worth of the musical rainbow that is Todd's world.

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