One of them is the opening cut (Hideaway), which might be painting by numbers but presents a rather interesting picture, as does Influenza, which is clever, but not too clever by half.Don't Hurt Yourself is pretty good advice, delivered with a veneer of sincerity and rather attractive layered vocals in sort of Hall & Oates territory, with There Goes Your Baybay inhabiting a neighbouring postcode.

The cover of Tin Soldier can only be described as ill-advised unless, of course, it’s in there to prove a point. If it is, and the point is the one I suspect he may have been making (look how far things have gone and what I’ve been reduced to) it sort of succeeds, but not enough to escape shuffle on past this one territory.

It’s fairly obvious Todd has a thing about Gilbert & Sullivan, which is where Emperor of the Highway is coming from. Mileages will vary according to your G&S tolerance, or willingness to listen to reasonable approximations thereof. Bang the Drum All Day delivered a hit, and while it bubbles along quite merrily the first time or three, repeated exposure on a regular basis is probably something to avoid. 

The synths send Drive off down the hard rock highway in a pretty much take it or leave it manner. It’s not annoying enough to have me hit shuffle, but I wouldn’t go out looking for it either), and Chant provides a lively way out of the album, and it’s one that hardly sounds like a tortured artist at work. As a collection of pure pop with a fair dash of synthesised soul Artist works well enough, not quite Rundgren’s best work, but under the circumstances it was never going to be. It mightn’t be a match for, say, Hermit Of Mink Hollow, but it’s not bad. Infectious in places, and enjoyable enough in its own way, but worth going out of your way to track down? 

A slot in the five album collection I found it in is, I think, around the right environment. I shelled out the dosh for Hermit and Faithful, got a bit of a discount, and, on that basis, a Tortured Artist comes as a bonus.

© Ian Hughes 2012