Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Todd Rundgren 8: Another Live

Todd’s concerts with Utopia were incredibly ambitious affairs, utilizing as many as three keyboard players who could also juggle other instruments as needed. But they were also fun, interspersing some of his “hits” in between lengthy prog workouts while adorned in feathers. Another Live offers a sampler of sorts, looking back while striving forward.
As was not uncommon at the time, the album contains live recordings of songs that had not been released in any other form, so the listener gets a fresh perspective alongside the audience at the shows (save those who may have been following the tour from stop to stop). “Another Life”, as one might expect, considers reincarnation, amidst a complicated arrangement that incorporates a trumpet for some reason. “The Wheel” is an acoustic departure, offering a respite from the frenetic sounds we’ve come to expect from Utopia. The band gets loud again for “The Seven Rays”, which seem to have replaced (or evolved from) his interest in chakras.
Side two fades in mid-performance during a sinister introduction to the instrumental “Mister Triscuits”. Then the real fun starts. A faithful version of “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story melds into a smoking take of “Heavy Metal Kids”. Particularly striking is the cover of the trash-rock classic “Do Ya”, three years after it had been a B-side by the Move, but a full year before Jeff Lynne re-recorded it in ELO. And of course, “Just One Victory”, the grand finale on A Wizard, A True Star, serves the same purpose here.
With most of the tracks relatively short and the whole album totaling only 45 minutes—compared to the hour-long slabs of plastic that had been his norm—Another Live certainly provides a slightly more digestible glimpse of Todd’s latest incarnation. At the same time, it seems like the end of a chapter. Or was it?

Todd Rundgren’s Utopia Another Live (1975)—

1 comment:

  1. Some of the songs do meander some ("Mister Triscuits", "Another Life", but not so much to totally bore the listener. The spirituality in "The Wheel" and "Just One Victory" is appealing. It's interesting that both Yes and Utopia hit on progging up "Something's Coming". I doubt that Todd had ever heard Yes's version, though, since it was only and obscure European single at the time. As for "Do Ya", The Move had covered "Open Your Eyes" live, so I imagine this was Todd returning the compliment.

    This album is a snapshot of the band that few beyond its fanbase really needs to have. (My LP was a free copy that I won). The sound quality is only average, at least on vinyl. The cover is really amateurish. I guess there's an alternate cover with a photo of Todd's sweaty head instead, but that wasn't exactly a sales draw, either.