Great Rock Albums of 1982: Utopia- Swing To The Right
Back in 1982 or there about, I remember reading a review on a Utopia album, not sure if it was this one or their next one, where the reviewer stated that Todd Rundgren was being pulled down by the rest of the band. I never agreed with that statement because I have always thought that Powell, Sulton and Wilcox were all talented musicians and song writers in their own right. For me, this was purely the case with their 1980 album “Adventures in Utopia,” although that is their best album.
Let me say straightaway that “Swing to the Right” is not quite as good as the 1980 classic but it’s not that bad. They do venture away from the more hard/progressive rock sound of the classic and adopt a more new wave approach. For the most part it works and even before U2 made it popular in 1983, the album is full of political lyrics aimed at corporations, religion and war mongers. My impression was that it’s a dig at the Regan administration which embraced all of the things that Utopia were having a go at. It is also the reason why Bearsville Records were reluctant to release the album at first.
The opening title track is the most progressive rock like song on the album and it boasts an excellent guitar solo from Rundgren. “Lysistrata” is also a good track and the swing to the more new wave sound definitely begins here. “Junk Rock” goes even more new wave and is a dig at synth pop which was rapidly gaining a foothold in the early 80s. “Shinola” does go back to a more progressive sound and Rundgren’s vocals remind me of some of his 1970s solo albums. The next few tracks are all what I have already spoken about, lyrics about political issues played to a new wave sound. For the most part, I like it and the standout track from these is “Last Dollar On Earth.” The closer, “One World” goes a little ways back to the more known Utopia sound and that ends the album rather nicely.
1. Swing to the Right
3. The Up
4. Junk Rock
6. For the Love of Money
7. Last Dollar On Earth
8. Farenheit 451
9. Only Human
10. One World
Todd Rundgren- guitar, vocals
Roger Powell- keyboards, synthesizer, vocals
Kasmir Sulton- bass, vocals, keyboards
John ‘Willie’ Wilcox- drums
Todd Rundgren deserves to be in the Rock Hall of Fame both as an artist and a producer. It’s an act a sacrilege that he isn’t. The argument that his playing with Utopia demeans his talents is totally rejected by me and many others. It could be said that he should be there a third time with Utopia because they have made some good albums over the years. “Swing to the Right” is one of them.
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