Todd Rundgren, ‘Space Force’: Album Review

Todd Rundgren’s relentless creativity has served him well over the years. Whether creating solo masterpieces like Something anything? and A magician, a real staror producing albums for artists as diverse as Grand Funk Railroad and XTC, he is as precise as he is blind.

These personality traits make him an ideal collaborator as well as a possible nightmare in the studio. But it’s also undeniable that his professional attention to detail has produced a long list of all-time greatest albums by many of the artists he’s worked with: Grand Funk Railroad (We are an American band), Meatloaf (Bat out of hell), New York dolls (New York Dolls) and XTC (Lark), among them.

space force arrives as a hybrid work: part Rundgren’s solo album, part Rundgren sitting in the producer’s chair. As in 2017 White knight, he collaborates with a range of artists whose CVs are as long and as varied as his own. Guests this time include members of Cheap Trick, Roots, Sparks and Weezer, and they help Rundgren satisfy his boundless curiosity in the dozen new songs collected here.

And like White knight, space force is at its most interesting when the artists’ sense of adventure matches Rundgren’s or when Rundgren himself is wading deep in studio wizard waters. The more they get, the better the results. But space force is pretty conventional, as far as Rundgren albums go, so don’t expect to find many reasons to revisit the record in the way its 70s catalog invited deeper dives.

Adrian Belew Participates in New Age/Soft-Rock Tribute “Puzzle,” Sparks Collab “Your Fandango” Is a Peak of ’70s Overseas Artists and Newness Throwback with Rivers Cuomo, “Down With the Ship”, comes and goes without a second thought. Only “Espionage” with the rapper Narcy, “I’m Not Your Dog” with a Thomas Dolby game and the muscular “STFU” with Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick mark the spirits. Over two dozen albums in his solo career (plus LPs with the Nazz and Utopia), Rundgren is always heading to unexpected destinations. Don’t expect to be engaged for the entire ride.

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