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Thread: Todd Rundgren

  1. #51
    If you want to get super-pedantic about it, “original Utopia” was Todd, Dave Mason (not that one), “M. Frog” and the Sales brothers. Mason died in 2013, so this version’s not happening, either.

    I did see the Todd/Kaz/Roger/Willie line-up in 1994 at a warm-up show for their “Redux” tour. We probably won’t see that lineup either, since Willie and Todd had a falling out, and Roger’s carpal tunnel won’t allow him to play keyboards anymore.
    Last edited by Progbear; 09-14-2020 at 12:10 AM.
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  2. #52
    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    Today I was scrolling through Todd's discography on Spotify, looking for live albums to listen to, and saw that Liars Live (the audio) was on there. What?! To my knowledge, that had only ever been available as a DVD.

    So I went onto iTunes and immediately bought it. There's some great versions of these tunes, both old and new, and to have a good audio version of this concert puts me over the moon.
    Really? I'd not heard about this. Thank you, man!
    And the code is a play, a play is a song, a song is a film, a film is a dance...

  3. #53
    Member Unfrankie Valli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    I did see the Todd/Kaz/Roger/Willie line-up in 1994 at a warm-up show for their “Redux” tour. We probably won’t see that lineup either, since Willie and Todd had a falling out, and Roger’s carpal tunnel won’t allow him to play keyboards anymore.
    I agree that Roger Powell's performing days with Utopia are probably over, but Rundgren and Wilcox toured in Utopia last year so are presumably reconciled.

    Full show here:

  4. #54
    Just a few days ago I went to see Todd and his band perform in Atlanta (about 3 hours away from where I live). First time ever seeing him in concert, and I was blown away. Great set list, and the performers were all so good. I was super excited to see Kasim Sulton, Prairie Prince, and Gil Assayas all together as well. Jesse Gress and Bobby Strickland I was not as familiar with, but I love them now. What a fantastic group of musicians. I could not get over how good the band sounded, and how full those song renditions were. Never thought I'd get to hear "Real Man" (one of my faves) performed live, so that was a highlight. Now I need to dust off some of my Rundgren and Utopia concert DVDs...

    Also as a bonus, I ran into Sean on my way out of the venue!

    Sean, for some reason it never crossed my mind that you might be at that concert too -- even though you're also a fan, and local to that area. It was really nice getting to meet you in person after all these years, and chat for a few minutes face to face. Made the whole experience even cooler.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
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  5. #55
    Moderator Sean's Avatar
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    So glad you got to take in a live Todd show! He was in really good voice and the band was kickin!

    Great to meet you as well!!

    Here's a bit of the show-






  6. #56
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Was Todd performing any of his recent singles? Have to say I haven’t enjoyed them, but wondering if they work better live.

  7. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean View Post
    So glad you got to take in a live Todd show! He was in really good voice and the band was kickin!
    Agreed, his voice sounded great and the band was tight and energetic. I'm glad I finally got to see these guys in concert.


    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    Was Todd performing any of his recent singles? Have to say I haven’t enjoyed them, but wondering if they work better live.
    The only recent thing they did was "Evrybody" from Global, and they played it as the encore. Not one of my favorites, but they made it a lot of fun in a live setting.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
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  8. #58
    Moderator Sean's Avatar
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    Everything he did was from the 70s. Last tour he mixed in some newer stuff, but this time it was all about a dose of the Wizard album + hits and a few deep cuts.

  9. #59
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean View Post
    Everything he did was from the 70s. Last tour he mixed in some newer stuff, but this time it was all about a dose of the Wizard album + hits and a few deep cuts.
    With the tour name having "The Individualist" in the title, I was expecting to hear some tunes from that album -- would've been happy if they played some, but honestly I'd have been happy with just about anything. The set list was really enjoyable, and had some inclusions I did not expect at all.

    That latter half of AWATS was so much fun.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
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  10. #60
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    I like Global!

  11. #61
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    I don't know how it's viewed by his fans or rock fans in general but I found a used copy of Back To The Bars at my local record shop. I still haven't listened to it. There was a copy of Something Anything which I bought as well. I had a copy 20-25 years ago which I sold so I was glad to get it back.

  12. #62
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    Back to the Bars is a good live album; my Castle remastered CD sounds very good. I also have King Biscuit Flower Hour on CD, another winner. And of course the first two Utopia albums.

  13. #63
    Quote Originally Posted by StarThrower View Post
    I don't know how it's viewed by his fans or rock fans in general but I found a used copy of Back To The Bars at my local record shop. I still haven't listened to it. There was a copy of Something Anything which I bought as well. I had a copy 20-25 years ago which I sold so I was glad to get it back.
    LOL, back in the late 70's, I kept my birth certificate in the album sleeve of Back To The Bars, because I needed the stupid thing in order to buy booze when I attending college in Oregon! Get it? Back to the Bars? They wouldn't take a DL in that state. Go fig. Back to the Bars is an ok live document, I'm really not a fan of live albums in general, no matter how good. IIRC, there's some annoying jerk on that album who's whistling his guts out through a few songs in the quiet parts. Last time I spun that was probably in the 70's. I'd prefer to listen to the full song, not a medley as well.

    I was a fan of Todd starting with Runt (one of those Tower Record "what is that that's playing?" discoveries), and definitely loved Something/Anything. My 2 favorites of his are the brilliant Wizard (of course) and Todd - which I listen to often to this day. Utopia is in a class by itself. Initiation is certainly "prog" as well, but it just never really clicked with me like his first 3. Although you can definitely hear his Utopia Mk2 aesthetic starting to rear its head on side one. One problem I had was him cramming more than an LP's worth of tunes onto the platter. C'mon Todd, just because you can, doesn't mean you should! The sound quality suffered greatly - especially considering the pains he went through to engineer and produce these things only to mess it up with micro grooves and over 30 minutes per side. One of the few times I preferred the digital versions of anything. Girls loved Todd, which was an added bonus!

    The last time I saw Todd live was for the RA tour! After that it was diminishing returns IMO. He always followed his muse, which is great, but sometimes that means losing people along the way. I enjoyed Hermit (well really, my GF's did) and Adventures In, even Healing to a lesser extent. But by the late 70's I was into far more diverse and exciting new sounds [insert a dozen+ punk/new wave/new romantic/electronic bands here]. Although Todd did produce some of the best for a few years! Personally, the most exciting thing I've heard from him recently is his collaboration with Sparks.

  14. #64
    Quote Originally Posted by Victorian Squid View Post
    Although you can definitely hear his Utopia Mk2 aesthetic starting to rear its head on side one.
    You say that like it's a bad thing. If by Utopia Mk2 you mean the 4-man lineup with Sulton, Powell, and Wilcox, that is my favorite version of the band (I love all of their records, and even scored a near-mint copy of Oblivion on vinyl at my local record store recently). And I love the first side of Initiation as well, precisely because of how well it melds Todd's more experimental ambitions with his soul/pop/rock influences.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
    - Sturgeon's Lawyer, 2021

  15. #65
    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    You say that like it's a bad thing. If by Utopia Mk2 you mean the 4-man lineup with Sulton, Powell, and Wilcox, that is my favorite version of the band (I love all of their records, and even scored a near-mint copy of Oblivion on vinyl at my local record store recently). And I love the first side of Initiation as well, precisely because of how well it melds Todd's more experimental ambitions with his soul/pop/rock influences.
    I didn't say "ugly" head!

    I think Initiation could have been near perfect if he'd have ditched side 2 and done another song or two - or even a cover - which would have made it a normal album length. But then again, I know a lot of people who prefer the experimentation of side 2, so what do I know? I really think of Utopia as the Mk2 band TBH. The album Utopia was just a bunch of guys making incredible music, and a completely different beast. No pop aspirations there. But that was one of my all time faves when it came out and a benchmark for a lot of what came afterwards for a while. What I appreciated most about Todd was his mixing genres - sometimes in the same song. Common now, but completely unheard of back then. Something/Anything shouldn't have been anything I liked as a teen, but it broadened my horizons.

    Utopia definitely got the short shrift with critics, which is a shame. Starting with Oops and especially Swing, they were firing on all cylinders. I do think there was some contractual issues around the time of Utopia, but I can't remember what it was. That's probably my least favorite from that period. And some real gems have fallen through the cracks as time has passed. Oblivion and POV are all but forgotten. Luckily, I never got rid of my LP collection (started in 1968), so no worries as far as hunting anything down that's out of print!

  16. #66
    Moderator Sean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    With the tour name having "The Individualist" in the title, I was expecting to hear some tunes from that album
    Like a double shot of this?


  17. #67
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean View Post
    Like a double shot of this?

    The only song I really actually like off The Individualist. Actually, I love it! It’s very quintessentially Todd. In spite of the very “of its time” production, the sound is very “four-man Utopia.” Chords and melodies to die for! I’m sure the fact that I am a bit of a coffee fiend helped more than a little towards me connecting with this song.
    Confirmed Bachelors: the dramedy hit of 1883...

  18. #68
    Quote Originally Posted by Victorian Squid View Post
    I didn't say "ugly" head!
    True! I couldn't quite tell if it was a good or bad connotation.


    Quote Originally Posted by Victorian Squid View Post
    I think Initiation could have been near perfect if he'd have ditched side 2 and done another song or two - or even a cover - which would have made it a normal album length. But then again, I know a lot of people who prefer the experimentation of side 2, so what do I know? I really think of Utopia as the Mk2 band TBH. The album Utopia was just a bunch of guys making incredible music, and a completely different beast. No pop aspirations there. But that was one of my all time faves when it came out and a benchmark for a lot of what came afterwards for a while. What I appreciated most about Todd was his mixing genres - sometimes in the same song. Common now, but completely unheard of back then. Something/Anything shouldn't have been anything I liked as a teen, but it broadened my horizons.

    Utopia definitely got the short shrift with critics, which is a shame. Starting with Oops and especially Swing, they were firing on all cylinders. I do think there was some contractual issues around the time of Utopia, but I can't remember what it was. That's probably my least favorite from that period. And some real gems have fallen through the cracks as time has passed. Oblivion and POV are all but forgotten. Luckily, I never got rid of my LP collection (started in 1968), so no worries as far as hunting anything down that's out of print!
    While I like most of "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire", I think I would have preferred if it was shortened or else if there was more stuff like what was on side 1. Or else make it a double LP. But it's still a pretty amazing record, IMO.

    I really like that first Utopia record also, and even like most of Ra -- "Singring and the Glass Guitar" has some really cool pieces, but it's a bit of a mess; that might be part of its charm I suppose. They did seem to get short shrift, undeservedly. Utopia made some great stuff, even up through POV. My least favorite was probably Swing to the Right, mostly because I just didn't enjoy as many of the songs on that one for some reason (but that was also a pretty depressing point in my life when I first heard it). But the s/t Utopia record was a really tight, punchy collection of pop tunes with brainy chord and melody choices.

    Glad that you still have your LP collection though! That helps a lot, not having to try tracking down stuff that might be hard to find now. I'm still working on building up my Todd/Utopia vinyl collection (even though I've got them all on CD already and should probably be more wise with my money...)


    Quote Originally Posted by Victorian Squid View Post
    What I appreciated most about Todd was his mixing genres - sometimes in the same song. Common now, but completely unheard of back then. Something/Anything shouldn't have been anything I liked as a teen, but it broadened my horizons.
    Same here. I actually didn't discover Something/Anything until I was about 20, and I didn't really like it until about a year or so later when I listened to the whole thing during a late-night study (i.e. cram) session in college. The sheer diversity and craft on display finally hit me, and it led me to check out more of his stuff and to become a huge fan later on after hearing Wizard, Todd, Liars, and the first Utopia record. It broadened my horizons too; at the time I was only really into prog-rock mostly, and hearing Todd's music opened my eyes/ears to a lot of other genres and artists.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
    - Sturgeon's Lawyer, 2021

  19. #69
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean View Post
    Like a double shot of this?

    Heck yes! I love that song.


    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    The only song I really actually like off The Individualist. Actually, I love it! It’s very quintessentially Todd. In spite of the very “of its time” production, the sound is very “four-man Utopia.” Chords and melodies to die for! I’m sure the fact that I am a bit of a coffee fiend helped more than a little towards me connecting with this song.
    Being a coffee drinker myself might explain some of my fondness for that track too. I actually like most of The Individualist. I think that "The Ultimate Crime" and "Beloved Infidel" are beautiful songs. "Temporary Sanity" is probably my favorite from that album though. That ending "We must be crazy" section gets me every time.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
    - Sturgeon's Lawyer, 2021

  20. #70
    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    I like Global!
    I like Global too, possibly a little more than State -- although that depends on the day probably.

    In terms of late-career Rundgren, I don't think anything he's done has topped Liars for me. That one is a masterpiece in my book.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
    - Sturgeon's Lawyer, 2021

  21. #71
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    I never heard the Individualist before. It's not bad. There's two rap songs on it which I could do without. Otherwise, me likey! I thought it was another "No World Order" which I didn't much care for.

  22. #72
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    I never heard the Individualist before. It's not bad. There's two rap songs on it which I could do without. Otherwise, me likey! I thought it was another "No World Order" which I didn't much care for. Most of my Todd collection is on vinyl. Some titles, like Initiation, suffer from having too much music crammed onto the LP which reduces the dynamic range and makes 'em sound thin. Does anybody know if the CD versions improve this with remastering?

  23. #73
    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarplyrjvb View Post
    I never heard the Individualist before. It's not bad. There's two rap songs on it which I could do without. Otherwise, me likey! I thought it was another "No World Order" which I didn't much care for.
    Yeah, I'm quite fond of The Individualist. It is a fair bit different from No World Order (which I like some of, but it's a much harder listen for me than most of his stuff).


    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarplyrjvb View Post
    Does anybody know if the CD versions improve this with remastering?
    From what I understand, the CD versions do improve the sonics compared to the vinyl. I've got a few different versions of the CD Initiation, and they all sound pretty good to me.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
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  24. #74
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    for me upgrading to a microline stylus helped those albums dramatically, since the inner-groove distortion is pretty noticeable on Wizard, the Utopia s/t, and Initiation. now I don't really hear it at all. fwiw I don't think the CDs are too different, I think Todd mastered his albums that way on purpose, knowing he was stuffing 30+ minutes on a side. amusingly Side 2 of Initiation (which is 36 minutes!) doesn't sound too bad, because the music itself is all synth & drum machine stuff, it's not really dynamic enough where you actually hear the distortion.

    I dig The Individualist too - possibly the only Todd album worth getting between Nearly Human and Liars. For me "If Not Now, When" is the best track, maybe because it reminds me so much of They Might be Giants? The chord changes seem very inspired by John Linnell. fwiw I think his 21st Century albums have been fine, just wish he'd drop the one-man production jobs because they sound pretty thin & boxed up to me. as though he's just using a bunch of stock samples. particularly Arena, which sounds like it would've worked really well with a full band but for some reason it's all canned and synthetic sounds. I guess that's why the more electronic-oriented albums like Liars and State work best for me. There's one he did with two European electronic artists called Runddans which I think is well worth checking out too. Amusingly that's a 40 minute album released on 2 LPs (played at 45), so the exact opposite of what he was doing in the 70s
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  25. #75
    Quote Originally Posted by Victorian Squid View Post
    I didn't say "ugly" head!

    I think Initiation could have been near perfect if he'd have ditched side 2 and done another song or two - or even a cover - which would have made it a normal album length. But then again, I know a lot of people who prefer the experimentation of side 2, so what do I know? I really think of Utopia as the Mk2 band TBH. The album Utopia was just a bunch of guys making incredible music, and a completely different beast. No pop aspirations there. But that was one of my all time faves when it came out and a benchmark for a lot of what came afterwards for a while. What I appreciated most about Todd was his mixing genres - sometimes in the same song. Common now, but completely unheard of back then. Something/Anything shouldn't have been anything I liked as a teen, but it broadened my horizons.

    Utopia definitely got the short shrift with critics, which is a shame. Starting with Oops and especially Swing, they were firing on all cylinders. I do think there was some contractual issues around the time of Utopia, but I can't remember what it was. That's probably my least favorite from that period. And some real gems have fallen through the cracks as time has passed. Oblivion and POV are all but forgotten. Luckily, I never got rid of my LP collection (started in 1968), so no worries as far as hunting anything down that's out of print!


    The first piece of side 2 on Initiation is great. If that had been added to the tracks of side 1 then it would have made a fantastic shorter album.

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