Album opener "Real Man" 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 attempts on 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 the album closer "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire". The closing tracks of the first side, the "disco-prog" title track and the doo wop-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 contains the side-long, multipart "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire," which is a springboard for synth experimentation. This ambitious piece, named after a book of the same name by Alice A. Bailey, is credited as a solo effort with Rundgren playing all instruments, unlike the first side which also credits other musicians. 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 "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire", the master tape was sped up to fit the entire song onto one side of the vinyl; the original length was 36:44. It was noted on the album's original inner sleeve that the sound needed to be condensed in order to fit the songs on the album and as a result, it could easily be damaged if played with a worn needle and the sound quality might be low. It was recommended that a person record the album to tape to improve the sound. The CD version avoids this issue.
Singles - Billboard
|1975||"Real Man"||Pop Singles||83|