Todd Rundgren

The Definitive Rock Collection

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A two-disc collection bringing together tracks from influential pop genius Todd Rundgren's solo career as well as his work with his prog rock ensemble Utopia, Rhino's The Definitive Rock Collection is an enticing if somewhat underwhelming retrospective. As the track listing does make room for cuts that go up to 2004, Definitive Rock Collection bests Castle's similar release Todd Rundgren vs. Utopia which only went as far as 1982. However, to say that the Rhino anthology earns its title as the definitive Rundgren collection is problematic. In fact, as each Rundgren album is so distinct from the preceding one, it could be argued that no collection could truly represent his varied career, and that is the primary problem with this collection. Sure, you get many of Rundgren's best-known tracks including "I Saw the Light" and "'Hello It's Me," as well as lesser-known classics like "Wailing Wall" and "Sometimes I Just Don't Know What to Feel," but the flow is off. One could imagine a better single-disc collection of his '70s solo work that makes room for more of his superb album cuts like "Range War" and "International Feel." As it stands, the first disc here leaves off such tracks in attempt to hit the most representative cuts off each album and in the process feels somewhat truncated especially to those listeners familiar with the original albums. The problem becomes even more compounded when you get to disc two and begin leap-frogging through Utopia's expansive and deep catalog, which has been filtered down here to just 11 tracks. At that point, you haven't even gotten to his late-career solo stuff which, in truth, isn't really required listening for the average person just looking for an introduction to Rundgren's catalog. Ultimately, while The Definitive Rock Collection may spark interest in discovering the rest of Rundgren's oeuvre, it falls short of being as rewarding a listen as the full albums themselves.

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