Initiation (Todd Rundgren album)

Studio album by Todd Rundgren
Released June 14, 1975
Recorded Secret Sound Studio
Media Sound Studio
Bearsville Sound Studio
Genre Psychedelic rock, progressive rock
Length 67:34
Label Bearsville, Rhino
Producer Todd Rundgren
Todd Rundgren chronology
Singles from Initiation
  1. "Real Man"
    Released: April 1975
Professional ratings
Review scores
Rolling Stone(Not rated)[2]

Initiation is the sixth solo album by Todd Rundgren, released in the summer of 1975. With this album, Rundgren fully embraced the synthesized prog sound he had begun exploring in more depth in his work with his band Utopia. However, unlike Utopia, in which Rundgren had limited himself to playing guitar, most of the synthesizers on Initiation were played/programmed by Rundgren himself.


Initiation was a concept album that could be broken into two parts corresponding to its two sides, each of which was over 30 minutes long. The first side was made up of Rundgren's songs from various rock genres, similar to previous Rundgren albums such as Todd; all of the members of Utopia appeared, as well as many of Rundgren's friends such as the members of the Edgar Winter Group on "Fair Warning". The second side, however, was entirely made up of the heavily synthesized instrumental work "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire", named after a 1930 book of the same name by theosophist Alice Bailey (whose works, influenced by the writings of H.P. Blavatsky, also included the concept of "initiation" and the "seven rays"). Rundgren performs all of the instrumental parts, with an enormous amount of the work being programmed and performed as well as co-written by a (largely uncredited) Roger Powell.

Album opener "Real Man" (which featured all of the original members of Utopia except for M. Frog Labat) and the modulated a capella "Born to Synthesize" have Rundgren acknowledging that he should face himself and follow his dreams of experimenting more with music than creating conventional pop records. "The Death of Rock and Roll", ironically the hardest rocking song on the record, takes a stab at the critics that rejected his previous rock albums A Wizard, a True Star and Todd. At the same time, Rundgren was also experimenting with Eastern religious concepts, exploring these themes on "Eastern Intrigue", as well as forming the basis of "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire". The closing tracks of the first side, the "disco-prog" title track and the soul music-inspired "Fair Warning", cryptically state that Rundgren is ready to push forward and that it is up to the listener to follow along or tune out.

The second side, the side-long, multipart "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire," (evidently based on the occult treatise by Alice Bailey) is a springboard for synth experimentation. On vinyl and in the iTunes Store, "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire" was indexed into four tracks, each consisting of one of the four movements of the piece (with "Outro - Prana" appended to the fourth track); track times for the individual movements are given below. Both the CD and vinyl erroneously list the song as being 36 minutes exactly.

The album is one of the longest single LPs of all time, totaling almost 68 minutes of playing time. Due to the length of the LP, Rundgren sped up the master tape to eliminate 2-3 minutes per side as well as EQ'ing and limiting the recording's dynamic range to fit the entire album onto one piece of vinyl. The album's original inner sleeve included a "Technical Note" stating "Due to the amount of music on this disc (over one hour), two points must be emphasized. Firstly, if your needle is worn or damaged, it will ruin the disc immediately. Secondly, if the sound does seem not loud enough on your system, try re-recording the music onto tape. By the way, thanks for buying the album". All CD copies contain the same audio and it is unknown if the dynamic range has been restored on these pressings.

Track listing

All songs by Todd Rundgren.

Side one

  1. "Real Man" – 4:27
  2. "Born to Synthesize" – 3:41
  3. "The Death of Rock and Roll" – 3:48
  4. "Eastern Intrigue" – 5:05
  5. "Initiation" – 7:03
  6. "Fair Warning" – 8:08

Side two

  1. "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire" (Instrumental) – 35:22
    • "Intro - Prana" – 4:21
    • "II. The Fire of Mind - or: Solar Fire" – 3:50
    • "III. The Fire of Spirit - or: Electric Fire" – 7:33
    • "I. The Internal Fire - or: Fire by Friction" – 19:38
      1. "Mûlâdhâra: The Dance of Kundalini"
      2. "Svâdhishthâna: Bam, Bham, Mam, Yam, Ram, Lam, Thank You, Mahm"
      3. "Manipûra: Seat of Fire"
      4. "Anâhata: The Halls of Air"
      5. "Vishudda: Sounds Beyond Ears"
      6. "Ajnâ: Sights Beyond Eyes"
      7. "Brahmarandhra: Nirvana Shakri"
    • "Outro - Prana"





Year Chart Position
1975 Billboard Pop Albums[3] 86


Year Single Chart Position
1975 "Real Man" Billboard Hot 100[4] 83


  1. Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2011). "Initiation - Todd Rundgren | AllMusic". Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  2. Miller, Jim (2011). "Todd Rundgren: Initiation : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". Archived from the original on January 16, 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  3. "allmusic ((( Todd Rundgren > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  4. "allmusic ((( Todd Rundgren > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Billboard. Retrieved 2011-12-17.
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