Todd Rundgren


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Healing is a subdued, reflective effort unlike anything else in Todd Rundgren's catalog. Certainly, there are some familiar elements throughout Healing, particularly on majestic ballads like "Compassion," but there are more new variations on his style since any album since Initiation. Not coincidentally, that record had hints of the spirituality that surges to the forefront on Healing, but it was nowhere near as musically focused as the latter record. Apart from "Compassion," there is a true lack of singles, which doesn't mean that there aren't standouts -- since "Golden Goose" has a weird, jerky hook and the opener "Healer" is a terrific pop single -- that stand on their own merit. Instead, the record works as a whole, flowing as seamlessly as Something/Anything? or Hermit. Unfortunately, it's not as strong as either of those records, largely because it's about texture and spirit, not individual songs. In a case like that, the music and ambience are as important as the actual songs, and while they're often very provocative, they tend to meander as well, particularly on the three-part "Healing" suite that comprises the last side of the record. On CD, its calming effect is dissipated because the bonus 7" single "Time Heals"/"Tiny Demons" is added at the end. Their presence makes it clear that Healing was intended as an album unto itself, without much in the way of singles, because each song -- the former being excellent new wave pop, the other a fine ballad -- could have been a single unto itself. In this context, they may deflate the lasting spiritual impression of the album, but they add musical weight, helping make the disc a fine effort.

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