BRK 6991 Adventures In Utopia
Produced by Todd Rundgren and Utopia
Released on January 1980
US CHART POSITION #32 . . . UK CHART POSITION #57
Find it at GEMM
BRK 6991 cover  

U topia arrived at a compressed cuteness on Adventures In Utopia that would serve them well over the next few years. The change was necessary: 1980 was a watershed moment in music, as artists anticipated the futureworld of 1984, so many moved forward lest they be left behind. Rundgren wasn’t a musical groundbreaker like David Bowie, Peter Gabriel or Talking Heads, but he did share their interest in video as a new frontier, creating a television video (called simply “Utopia”) to accompany this album. I haven’t seen it, but the standalone nature of these songs doesn’t require a visual explanation anyway. The story here isn’t what you’re missing but what you’re getting: ten tightly conceived tracks that finally deliver on the band’s utopian ideal of four engines simultaneously humming (and pulling their share of the weight). Earlier Utopia albums seemed to rise and sag as they corresponded to Todd’s level of participation, but here Todd (and the rest of the band) seem to be equally engaged on every track. Some of its consistency stems from the decision to mask the vocals using effects, so all four members end up sounding about the same. And catchy choruses (long a Rundgren hallmark) abound, seemingly spreading Rundgren’s influence evenly over the entire album. Despite a couple of slow moments, like the synthetic torch song “Love Alone,” Adventures In Utopia is memorable for its swift, contagious energy. “The Road To Utopia” provides an intoxicating entrypoint, and the inevitable hissing of air from the balloon never happens. Playful pop songs rendered with new wave stylishness (“You Make Me Crazy,” “Shot In The Dark”), crowd-pleasing kiss-off songs (“The Very Last Time,” “Set Me Free”), and spacey stories (“Caravan,” “Last of the New Wave Riders”) follow, all of them keepers in the canon. As an outside producer, Rundgren was certainly aware of the new direction in popular music established by acts like The Cars and Gary Numan; in adopting a similar approach for Utopia, Todd mapped out a new future for the band that discarded the outmoded prog rock approach for a cleaner, quirkier sound. To my tastes, this ranks right up there with the best Utopia has to offer; in fact, it’s the Utopia album I play most often.

BRK 6991 inner gatefold BRK 6991 back cover
BRK 6991 inner gatefold BRK 6991 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. THE ROAD TO UTOPIA    4:53
  2. YOU MAKE ME CRAZY    3:38
  3. SECOND NATURE    2:34
  4. SET ME FREE    3:07
  5. CARAVAN    6:59
  6. LAST OF THE NEW WAVE RIDERS    4:19
  7. SHOT IN THE DARK    3:42
  8. THE VERY LAST TIME    3:49
  9. LOVE ALONE    3:52
  10. ROCK LOVE    5:31

    All songs written by Utopia

CREDITS

ROGER POWELL -- synthesizers, vocals
TODD RUNDGREN -- guitars, vocals, engineer, photography
KASIM SULTON -- bass, vocals
JOHN WILLIE WILCOX -- drums, vocals
Chris Andersen -- additional engineering
Mike Young -- additional engineering
John Holbrook -- additional engineering
George Carnell -- additional engineering
Bob Lampnel -- photography
Jamison Goodman -- photography
Danny O'Connor -- photography, album package concept
Utopia -- album package concept
The Creative Directors Inc. -- package design and production
John Wagman -- Utopia logo design

return to UTOPIA discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US/CAN January 1980 Bearsville LP/CS BRK/M5-6991 gatefold cover, picture sleeve
UK January 1980 Island LP/CS ILPS 9602 gatefold cover, picture sleeve
GER 1980 Bearsville LP 201 254  
UK March 1988   2LP/2CD/2CS   repackaged w. OOPS! WRONG PLANET
WW 1993 Rhino LP/CD/CS RNCD 70872  
JPN   Bearsville CD VICP-60275 digitally remastered
UK June 20, 2000 Essential CD ESMCD 761 digitally remastered

 

progrography

© 2003 Connolly & Company. All rights reserved.