Hermit Of Mink Hollow

(1978), 8.5/10
After a series of ambitious works with Utopia and solo projects (the very conceptual Initiation and the painstaking recreation of classic rock standards on the first side of Faithful), Rundgren dropped back into straightforward pop with the completely solo Hermit Of Mink Hollow. It’s still intricately produced, and Rundgren’s skills as a multi-instrumentalist are stronger than they were when he made Something/Anything; if that album had a few rough edges, it’s difficult to tell that Hermit is a one man effort at all, even pulling out a credible saxophone solo in ‘Bag Lady’. The best known song here is the syncopated piano groove of ‘Can We Still Be Friends’, one of the few genuinely expressive pieces in the Rundgren catalogue, like he wrote a song to express feelings rather than demonstrate his technical prowess. In the same category is the simple ‘Lucky Guy’ (“When there’s pain, he never minds it/When it’s lost, he always finds it.”) and the melodic ‘Hurting For You’, where the staggered vocals on the chorus are a great arrangement touch. There’s also the aggressive rocker ‘Out Of Control’, while ‘Onomatopoeia’ is a production masterpiece, a novelty song that actually bears repeated listening, with tons of sound effects inserted seamlessly into the song. There’s tons of catchy mid-tempo stuff – the opening ‘All The Children Sing’ and the bouncy ‘You Cried Wolf’, and apart from a couple of naive social commentary lyrics, there’s little to complain about. Hermit Of Mink Hollow is a terrific, tight little record where every track is likeable.

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