It seems there's renewed appreciation for Todd Rundgren these past few years, not in the last place because the big man has recently added Europe to his tour schedule again. Pieces about the 'one-time wunderkind' now appear once more in the newspapers and music magazines and Esoteric Recordings are now re-releasing almost all of his records, both solo and with Utopia. For me this is totally appropriate as this creative musician, who gave us wonderful songs like Hello It's Me and Can We Still Be Friends?, should not be forgotten by a new generation of listeners. No World Order and The Individualist are two records from the nineties, a period which is generally seen as not being one of the best of Todd Rundgren. This is mainly because on these records no classic tracks like the aforementioned songs can be found. However, he has hardly ever made a bad record.
No World Order (1993) has been released in various formats which have all been collected on this re-release. This record was the first to appear under the moniker TR-I, to indicate that it was recorded in a different way. The compositions differed from those on previous solo albums. To be more specific: more electronics with rap, almost completely single-handedly made by Todd Rundgren without any outside help, and in an interactive form. In regard to the latter: originally the CD came with additional software which made it possible for the listener to tinker around with the songs on the PC. Fortunately this gimmick has been removed from the re-releases so that we can finally enjoy the records the way Rundgren meant them for us to hear. No World Order is especially in the first tracks a tiring record, because he raps over a strong beat with fierce guitar eruptions. And then suddenly there's the wonderful smoothing song Property which invites us to sing along. It's pretty obvious that Todd switches from one style to another, sometimes with great success and at other times with less effect, but it always remains interesting to listen to. This re-release contains the original album No World Order, the No World Order Lite with alternative mixes and versions and NWO (version 1.01), a Japanese mini album with other alternative mixes and versions.
The Individualist (1995) was the second release of Rundgren's TR-I project and again it's a solo album in the true sense of the word since Todd does everything himself. The songs deal with the issues that occupied him at the time like family values, the social position of women and a good cup of coffee. Most of the songs are calmer and more subdued than on No World Order with great emphasis on Todd's vocals rather than his guitar playing. The record contains a heavy electronic feel because of all the electronic instruments he used. Maybe No World Order and The Individualist are not the best records in Rundgren's career, but they remain worthwhile listening to.
*** André de Waal (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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