Album Title
Artist IconUtopia
Artist Icon RA
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First Released

Calendar Icon 1977


Genre Icon Progressive Rock


Mood Icon Gritty


Style Icon Rock/Pop


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Album Description
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RA found Utopia moving away from the long, experimental instrumental jams that distinguished their first two albums, but what's surprising about it is how the group changed. Sure, the lineup was different but their approach changed on RA, as they moved away from prog rock and toward hard rock. In that regard, it makes sense that Rundgren's possessive has been stripped from Utopia's name, since the band no longer sounds like an indulgent spin-off of his own albums. RA has little to do with either Rundgren album that preceded or succeeded it. In fact, it's an anomaly in both the Utopia and Rundgren catalogs. Never before had Rundgren attempted what appears to be a full-fledged concept album, and never again did Utopia trade in pomp rock and all the grand, "important" themes that go with the territory. RA may not have a genuine narrative through line -- with the exception, that is, of the closing 18-minute epic "Singring and the Glass Guitar," an "electrical fairy tale" Rundgren narrates in the voice of a mischievous elf -- but all seven songs feel connected, largely because they're driven home with pure prog bombast. At times, the album feels like parody, particularly because all the sonic overhauls make Utopia sound like Queen. Despite all the indications that Utopia isn't taking this all that seriously -- nobody could write the chorus of "Hiroshima" without having their tongue somewhat in cheek -- but it's impossible to discern whether RA is satire since the murk of keyboards, guitar solos, and crushing chords is somberly played. Such quandaries and questions make RA intriguing, even if it's not particularly good, or listenable for that matter.
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