Turning the attention to The Difficult Side Rundgren turns social agitator on Bread, three minutes of power ballad about starving Americans living below the poverty line, and continues in the same territory with Bag Lady, a piano ballad that verges on the melodramatic but has its heart in the right place.

After that the listener probably needs something a little more upbeat, andYou Cried Wolf ‘s bouncy assessment of an ex-lover’s false alarms in the commitment department meets that requirement fairly well. Rundgren drops it right back for the melancholic piano-driven Lucky Guy, which followed Out of Control in the original sequence. In the other setting, however, it’s about time for a howling up-tempo raver. Out of Control fits that requirement to a T and both sequences conclude with Fade Away an exercise in sumptuous harmonies that winds things up with a closing statement that works as well as All The Children Sing does as an opener.

With the tracks sorted into both sequences it’s difficult to say which one works the best, and I’m inclined to agree with Rundgren’s assessment that the Easy Side/Difficult Side idea wasn’t a problem and that the record wouldn’t suffer for it. As it is, I have ‘em both, and in an environment where you’re going to be playing your favourite tracks on shuffle the album sequencing isn’t really an issue, is it?

In any case, regardless of the actual sequence, what we have here is a collection of 

snappy, cleverly arranged quality pop songs that’s possibly the best, and definitely the most accessible, thing he’d done since back around Something/Anything. That’s not to suggest they’re all classics, but it’s a remarkably consistent collection that’s remarkably free of duds and candidates for the shuffle button.

© Ian Hughes 2012