Recorded during week-long stints in New York City (The Bottom Line), Los Angeles (The Roxy), and Cleveland (The Agora) Back To The Bars features music from Todd Rundgren’s albums Something/Anything?, A Wizard, a True Star, Todd, Initiation, and Faithful with a couple of Utopia numbers thrown in for good measure. Sides 1 and 4 feature Todd with his Utopia cohorts (Roger Powell, Kasim Silton and John Wilcox) whilst sides 2 and 3 feature other musicians with only drummer John Wilcox playing on the whole album. This album features some of his best blue-eyed soul/pop-rock songs and is a real delight to listen to. I’d only ever had The Hermit of Mink Hollow and a couple of the later years Todd albums, so I was coming to this record with fresh ears.
Todd voice is great and his knack for writing catchy, soulful songs is undisputed; the way he uses hooks would make a Cenobite jealous! It’s hard to pick out the highlights as it’s all great for the most part but Initiation, The Last Ride and Black Maria are all fantastic, as is the soul medley of I’m So Proud/Ooh Baby Baby/La La Means I Love You /I Saw The Light.
It’s not all fun and games: there’s nothing from the aforementioned Hermit of Mink Hollow and the songs Never Never Land and Zen Archer fall a little flat for me but these are minor-ish quibbles. There’s no drum solos on here, the band, Todd and the crowd sound like they’re having fun and, other than the medley, no song is over 10 minutes long. So for all those reasons I’m giving Back To The Bars an 8/10 and would recommend this album to listen to. TTFN!