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Articles Home » 2012 Articles » Utopia (Todd Rundgren's) - 2012 Live At Hammersmith Odeon '75
Utopia (Todd Rundgren's) - 2012 Live At Hammersmith Odeon '75

ARTIST: Utopia (Todd Rundgren's)
ALBUM: Live At Hammersmith Odeon '75
LABEL: Shout! Factory
SERIAL: 826663-12906
YEAR: 2012


LINEUP: Todd Rundgren - guitar, vocals * Roger Powell - keyboards, synthesizers * John Siegler - bass * Willie Wilcox - drums * Luther Vandross, Anthony Hinton - background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Freedom Fighters * 02 Mister Triscuits * 03 The Last Ride * 04 When The Shit Hits The Fan/ Sunset Boulevard/ Le Feel Intenacionale * 05 Heavy Metal Kids * 06 The Wheel * 07 Open My Eyes * 08 Sons Of 1984 * 09 Do Ya * 10 Couldn't I Just Tell You

Although incomplete, this is a welcome early Utopia live recording from October 9, 1975 at London's Hammersmith Odeon. The original BBC broadcast was three hours long and whittled down to fifty-five minutes on the notorious bootleg LP 'Nimbus Thitherward' a year later. While essentially that album with better sound, the packaging is incredibly chintzy with no photos or liner notes that an historical document such as this so richly deserves. A missed opportunity but filling in the blanks this was a notably different line-up from that recorded the debut and 'Another Live' with keyboardists Moogy Klingman and Ralph Shuckett gone, leaving Roger Powell to twiddle the ivories and knobs. Augmented by Willie Wilcox and soon to move on bassist John Siegler as well as two background vocalists including the late soul star Luther Vandross; this is Todd in his element and a smokin' set at a budget price.

The Songs
Opening with and according to Rundgren in his opening banter, 'the Utopia single that was never released'; 'Freedom Fighters' is the only song from the first record that made the cut here but what a classic, punctuated by Todd's guitar wizardry and vocal histrionics. Roger Powell's dazzling ten minute 'Mister Triscuits' is the album's centerpiece while 'The Last Ride' from 1974's 'Todd' is close to soulful Hall & Oates territory; a stylistic carryover from 'War Babies' sessions perhaps but excellent nonetheless. 'Heavy Metal Kids' from the same album is rife with pop hooks and meaty riffs that would have made BOC blue with envy but maybe that was the point. Of course with outstanding musicianship at a premium, Todd was still calling Utopia's shots injecting tunefulness whenever and wherever possible as evidence on the acoustically driven clap-along 'The Wheel' for the disc's lighter but poignant moment while the updated version of The Nazz 'Open My Eyes' begins the set's full-frontal pop assault with 'Sons of 1984', a more than respectable cover of The Move's 'Do Ya', and rousing 'Couldn't I Just Tell You' from the monumental opus 'Something/ Anything?'.

In Summary
The sound quality is excellent but I would love to hear the entire concert and apparently there was a 3-disc bootleg available several years ago. These days I'm sure someone has it floating out there in digital land but until the day arrives when I succumb to the incessant lure of downloading, this release will have to do.

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