Here's another trip down memory lane, at least my memory lane. Next to a choice few other bands in the Seventies, like Judas Priest and UFO, Todd Rundgren, solo or with Utopia, was one of my favorite artists. I saw him live probably six or seven times between 1977 and 1983. One of my fondest memories is seeing him live in Boston, on the Back to the Bars tour, at the very small Paradise Theater, where I had a front row/table seat a mere three feet from the stage. (You can listen below) I was in Boston, traveling and touring, before returning to college for my Junior rear. I discovered he was in town for three nights and six shows, found a ticket (somehow) and walked to the show, almost 13 blocks both ways, at night, in Boston. While waiting in line to get in, the early show left out and who did I see? None other than Boston's on Ric Ocasek from The Cars. The seats were amazing. So was the show. A once in a lifetime experience. Sweet.
All this preface is to say that Esoteric Recording's release of Todd Rundgren and Utopia Live at the Electric Ballroom Milwaukee 23 October 1978 is from that very same tour, only two months later. The set list, see right, includes a healthy portion of his solo material with several recent and older Utopia songs. (The Paradise Theater recording, a simulcast, is identical to the Milwaukee recording with the exception that two encores, Hello, It's Me and Just One Victory, were dropped from the former.) It was inspired by shows in New York and LA at the beginning of the year which made it to the Back to the Bars live recording.
While that material was planned and recorded in the usual manner for publication, The Electric Ballroom comes straight from the mixing board, with all it's warts and worries, only to be remastered for this CD. It sounds a little muffled at times, but sounds better when played louder. One of things that it keenly shows is the unevenness of Todd Rundgren's voice, more scattered and stretched, something that had been happening for last years, probably from constant touring. Yet, otherwise, the players and instruments are surprisingly buoyant and clear. It definitely felt like I was back at the Paradise for the show.
As a musician, composer, producer, Todd Rundgren's prolific career spans better than 40 years and continues even now. This is a slice of his early life and one that was amazingly productive, releasing two albums a year, for several years. It's also a slice of my life as well, a fond memory. Did I say he's one of my favorite guitarists? Yeah. He kicks ass. Todd Rundgren and Utopia Live at the Electric Ballroom 1978 is definitely worth your purchase.
Todd Rundgren and Utopia Live at the Electric Ballroom is vintage Todd, a concert experience I remember played out only months before in Boston at the Paradise Theater.
1. ‘Real Man’
2. ‘It Wouldn't’t Have Made Any Difference’
3. ‘Love of the Common Man’
5. ‘Abandon City’
6. ‘The Verb ‘To Love”
7. ‘The Seven Rays’
8. ‘Can We Still Be Friends’
9. ‘The Death of Rock and Roll’
1. ‘You Cried Wolf’
3. ‘A Dream Goes on Forever
4. ‘Black Mariah’
5. ‘Eastern Intrigue / Initiation’
6. ‘Couldn't I Just Tell You’
7. ‘Hello, It’s Me’
8. ‘Just One Victory’
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